20 Jan Staying Vertical with Mark Pinales
On Saturday, January 5th, William Dyson, of High Five Events, continued to bring in the New Year with Mark Pinales, an Austinite and up-and-coming elite endurance athlete who qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. They discussed his upcoming race, the 3M Half Marathon, and covered everything from his recent string of victories to his favorite running memory of all time.
William Dyson – To say you were busy in 2016 would be an understatement. How have you been this successful?
Mark Pinales – My main focus this training block has been and continues to be staying healthy. I’m focusing on post-race recovery and making sure I take care of my body the right way. It’s been the biggest key to my success. I try to focus on my hard days being hard and taking down time as needed to get my body back to where it feels ready to push just a bit more.
WD – You’re an Austin guy, born and raised. What did it mean to run here while at The University of Texas and what does it mean to run Austin races as an elite?
MP – Coming out of high school, UT wasn’t one of my picks at all. But then I arrived on campus, met the team, felt the environment, and fell in love. I especially loved having family close and being close to home. My family got to watch all of my home meets. Running as an elite here in Austin is perfect. I get to have some local races under my belt and become acquainted with Austin roads. 2016’s goal was to stay here, make my name bigger in Austin running community. In 2017, I want to branch out and test my ability at races across the country.
WD – You’re participating in the Austin Runners Club’s Distance Challenge. Why did you sign up for that instead of focusing on a select few key races?
MP – My mom and dad are runners. My mom has been really getting back into it running lately. She registered for the 80s 8K. I knew Iram from some previous engagements. He basically told me to do ADC, I checked into it and built ADC into my running schedule. The main goal for this series of races was to prepare for the Austin marathon on the home course and use them as solid training races.
WD – As a part of the Austin Distance Challenge you’ll run the 3M Half Marathon. But this is also the final long distance race that you’ll use as a tuneup for the Austin Marathon. Without giving away any top secrets, what’s your plan for downhill to downtown?
MP – There are no real big secrets. In the beginning I will probably follow the pack, make sure my gears are moving the way I want, hit my paces. If I’m feeling good I might pick it up to get the feel for the end of a big race. My ultimate goal is to come out healthy and ready to go for the Austin Marathon.
WD – Austin Marathon presented by NXP. February 19, 2017: Your marathon debut. After hearing that out loud, tell me what immediately goes through your head.
MP – I get this feeling of excitement, sprinkled with a little bit of nerves. The nerves have more to do with my nutrition plan, potential bathroom breaks, and how to properly pace myself for a 26-mile race. If I can go in healthy and prepared, I’ll be ready to go.
WD – Congratulations on being accepted into the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program! How’s your marathon-specific training so far and what are your race-day goals?
MP – My training has been going well. Lately, it has been down with holidays, travel, etc. The break has actually been beneficial as I’m notorious for over preparing. To win my first marathon during my debut, especially in Austin, would be phenomenal. I’m looking forward to a battle with the other talented runners in the Elite Field. In the end, I will run my own race, do my own dance. I want my own game plan that gets me close to the time I want.
WD – The RunLab Elite team won the 2016 Marathon Relay with a time of 2:23:36. Has it sunk in that Mark Pinales wants to run the Austin Marathon faster than that by himself?
MP – HA! Not really; I’m just excited about the opportunity, especially with this being my marathon debut. I’m still unsure of what to expect, but I feel supremely confident with the my training,
WD – How are you training mentally to race your first marathon?
MP – Essentially training by myself. Sometimes I’ll run with Leo (Manzano) and Gilbert’s Gazelles (casually). The great thing about training in Austin is there’s always someone to run with. I do my workouts on my own for the most part. They are long and intense. I like to push myself mentally so I can stay mentally tough during the race. I’m making it as difficult on myself NOW, so that I’m prepared for anything on race day. I hope to run with the pack, but I know that doesn’t happen all the time.
WD – After the Austin Marathon, what race is next on your spring calendar?
MP – I’ll take at least two weeks of easy running afterwards. I’m aiming for March 11, Gate River Run (15K USATF Championships), and April 29,OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon (USATF Half Marathon Championships).
WD – Some people give advice to their future self in preparation for a race. Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give your high school running self?
MP – I’d tell myself to figure out the work-to-running balance in college (much sooner); give yourself more time; don’t expect the world so quickly; understand everything is a process; don’t regret anything. I’m grateful of where life has led me to where I am today.
MP – Hands down, it has to be a run with now current girlfriend (Katie) in Seattle (all through the bayside, city, seas). We knew each other, went off on a long run, got to know one another, and truly bonded. Out of all the wins, that run sticks out the most.
WD – You’ve got a great, flexible job and sponsorships with Skechers Performance and RunLab Austin. What does that do for an athlete both mentally and physically?
MP – I’m appreciative of all the backing from Skechers and RunLab. Without them I wouldn’t have the support system I need or be as healthy as I am. I’m glad they’re in my corner. As for my job, the flexibility truly helps with devoting time to both my career and running goals.
WD – What’s the toughest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a runner?
MP – The mental barrier. I just recently discovered the ability to push myself past my comfort zone. Running comes naturally for me. I enjoy my great workouts, but during a race, pushing past my comfort zone is tough. There have only been two times where I’ve felt completely out of my comfort zone: Stanford 10K as freshmen and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half in 2015 in which I qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials. I’ve begun to embrace becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.
WD – You’re fresh out of college and still relatively young. What are your future running and life goals?
MP – Running goals: I haven’t set any precise long-term goal as of yet. I feel like I have five to seven years of elite running left. Generally speaking, I want to get faster, win bigger races, place high at bigger races, and create a respectable legacy. Life goals: be successful career-wise, be at high enough position to live comfortably, run financial services firm, and eventually open up my own office.
WD – What motivates you to run?
MP – Katie (girlfriend) is a big motivator. My parents are big motivators as well. I want to make them proud and don’t want to fail them. Failing my parents scares me. I want to do right by them and create a legacy for the family both in running and in life. I’m one of the last males with the last name Pinales and my grandfather, another motivating factor, is pumped at what the Pinales name has been able to achieve in life so far.
MP – Running has given me an avenue to reinvent myself, build something more than what I originally was. Running has given me ability to improve, push past my limits, grow as a person. Running has provided me with internal and external discipline. The planning, the scheduling, being consistent, it all transfers and is applicable to my life. Running has helped me grow and mature more than I ever imagined.
WD – Favorite place to run in Austin?
MP – This is a good one. I’d have to say running through the hills of Austin. Stratford is a good example. I love going out there to run and look at all the beautiful homes.
WD – Favorite non-running activity?
MP – There are several! I really like to play guitar. Reading, especially self-development stuff. I really enjoy learning new things, so any time I can absorb something new I jump at the opportunity. Lastly, music… I enjoy R&B, both listening and playing. Avant and Musiq Soulchild are a couple of my favorites.
WD – How do you relax and unwind?
MP – I relax and unwind by doing absolutely nothing. Lounging around is one of my favorite things to do! Naps, when available, are perfect for relaxing. I have a rule: anything less than two hour naps aren’t considered real naps!
WD – Favorite in-race (training) hydration/nutrition.
MP – For hydration – water and Gatorade. I constantly making sure I have enough electrolytes. For nutrition – Clif Shots – vanilla. Christina with Clif Bar introduced me to them and I’ve been enjoying them ever since!
WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?
MP – Pint House Pizza (38th St.) and there’s no second-guessing.
WD – Describe the perfect post-race meal (in Austin).
MP – Anything that’s not relatively healthy. Give me all the pizzas, burgers, cookies, and brownies I can handle!
WD – Morning or evening runs?
MP – Morning for sure. While I don’t like waking up early, I do like getting my morning run out of the way. If my schedule allows, I’ll double up in the evening if possible.
MP – I prefer solo runs. They build up mental toughness. I enjoy listening to music while running alone. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy people and being around them, but when it comes to serious running, solo runs are me.
WD – Mark, thanks again for coming by our office. It’s been great getting to dig a little deeper into who Mark Pinales is and who Mark Pinales will become. You’re making quite a name for yourself and I’m appreciative of you giving us your time. You’ve got a bright future ahead and we’re excited to see what you can do! We’ll see you at the Downhill to Downtown start line this Sunday.
MP – William, thank you and High Five Events for having me over. I enjoyed our conversation. I’m really looking forward to giving my best at the 3M Half Marathon (1/22) and the Austin Marathon (2/19). I can’t wait to no longer say “marathon debut!” We’ll see you this Sunday. I look forward to running with the other elites. Should be a great race!
Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the endurance community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers to understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the endurance community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.
Awards and Recognitions –
2016 – Decker Challenge Champ (1:08:13 – course record)
2016 – San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Champ (1:05:25)
2016 – YMCA Dallas Turkey Trot Champ [8 Miler] (40:21)
2016 – Run for the Water Champ (51:56)
2016 – 80s 8K Champ (26:56)
2016 – Marathon Relay Champs (2:23:36 – RunLab Elite)
2016 – Olympic Trials Qualifier
Two-time All-Big 12, cross country (The University of Texas)