February 2, 2022
We’re so excited to introduce Kristin Barrali (pictured left) and Jody Burr (pictured right) – the incredible duo who will be running in the 2022 Boston Marathon through the John Hancock Non-Profit Program.
Kristin (she/her) spent nine amazing years as an 826 Boston staff member. Jody (she/her) is a local artist as well as co-owner of Anomia Press. Both of these powerhouses will be training together for the upcoming marathon and agreed to take some time out of their training to help us get to know them a little better.
Enjoy learning more about Kristin and Jody below!
What are you most looking forward to about running in the Boston Marathon?
Kristin: I’m looking forward to the race but I’m also a bit nervous. There’s a lot going on in the minds of runners before a race. I have been a marathon spectator for years and love that you see runners in all shapes and sizes. I can’t wait for the race to start, for that anticipatory bus ride to Hopkinton early Monday morning, and to stand with so many others to embark on this challenge of a lifetime.
Jody: I grew up in Jamaica Plain, but I’ve never actually been at the finish line of the Boston Marathon or seen the whole route, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing the event from start to finish. I’ve never run anything close to 26 miles and I’m a little scared of how hard it might be, but one thing I’ve learned from running half marathons (another thing I never thought I could do) is to trust my training and not let my brain get in the way.
Tell us about your favorite book, poem, or writer and your connection to it/them.
Kristin: I love books that are about characters and situations that are new to me. Two of my favorite books are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Homegoing follows three women and seven generations starting with the slave trade in Ghana in the 18th century and ending in modern times. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a coming of age novel written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese immigrant to his illiterate mother that looks at race, class, and masculinity.
Jody: I have always loved to read – as a kid I could always be found with my nose in a book. As a visual artist I connect my work more to poetry, because it uses words in a more abstract or associative way, inviting the reader to fill in the gaps. Some of my favorite poets are Jane Hirshfield, David Whyte, and Nikki Giovanni. Each of them crafts their words like sculptures, to evoke the divinity and mystery of ordinary moments.
Tell us about your training – what are you enjoying and where do you need our community to cheer you on in the next few months?
Kristin: I have never run a marathon before, but I have ran and trained for several half marathons. I like the training, the long runs, the dread of going out there on a cold, icy morning, and then feeling amazing after completing it. Jody and I ran an epic 12 mile training run recently. 12 miles seems long now, but in a couple weeks, it will seem short!
Jody: The hardest part about training is that you have to make yourself do it all the time, even when you don’t want to. I actually like running in the cold, but it’s hard sometimes to get myself out of the door on a dark morning when the sun isn’t up yet. I love running, though. Running is such a great way to see the world at the pace of my own two feet – the long runs Kristin and I do on the weekends are the most fun because we can get all over Boston and really see the city.
What drew you to 826 Boston?
Kristin: I knew 826 Boston was a special place the minute I walked in the door for my job interview in 2012. I applied to work at 826 Boston because as the mom of (then) two young kids in Boston Public Schools, I saw firsthand how so many kids had such creativity, brilliance, and positivity. I also saw the challenges faced by teachers with large classes and not enough support. I decided I wanted to be a part of that support structure to partner with students and teachers to honor the creativity and the amazing stories inside of them.
Jody: I first learned about 826 when I lived in Brooklyn and used to pass by the Superhero Supply Co. in my neighborhood. It took a while to figure out that it was actually home of a youth writing program (826NYC). When I moved back to Boston and had kids, they both had the chance to do field trips to 826 Boston and publish a book with their class. I’m so inspired by the student-centered focus of 826 – the way these programs empower youth to express their ideas creatively, confidently, and with joy.
What’s one piece of advice you think everyone should know about?
Kristin: If it’s wet or cold, do not wear cotton.
Jody: Your best work comes as soon as you can turn off the inner editor and get out of your own way.
What’s one song that you would want as your theme song?
Jody: I actually have a playlist called “Daily Theme Songs.” A few that put me in just the right mood, especially on my runs: Shaky Shaky by Daddy Yankee, Soon by My Bloody Valentine, and Starfish and Coffee by Prince.
Anything else about yourself that you’d like to share?
Kristin: I am thrilled to get to be a part of this team; to do something hard, but rewarding, while also bringing in more supporters for 826 Boston. It is something I wanted to do while I was working at 826 and I am grateful to have this to keep me connected to the amazing people involved with this organization.
Jody: In addition to being artists, my husband Andrew and I also own a tabletop game company, Anomia Press, that shares 826 Boston’s passion for empowering people through literacy and creative play. We’ve been fans for a long time!