Kastor Glad to Be Up and Running

Kastor Glad to Be Up and Running

USA TODAY

Kastor Glad to Be Up and Running
By Dick Patrick

Deena Kastor had big plans for the summer track season — personal bests in the 5000 and 10000 meters, plus a trip to the world championships.

Then in May she was playing with her chocolate lab, Aspen, when she stepped on one of the industrial-sized pine cones sprinkled throughout the yard of her Mammoth Lakes, Calif., home, rolling her left foot and ankle.

“I knew it wasn’t good as soon as I did it,” Kastor recalls. “The pain was nothing like I’d ever felt before.”

An MRI exam revealed a cuboid bone stress reaction, a precursor to a fracture. “I didn’t break it, but I really pissed it off,” she says.

The injury forced Kastor into a boot for a couple of weeks, onto an underwater treadmill and into a re-evaluation of her plans.

With no summer on the European circuit, she shifted her training focus to Sunday’s LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, where she’s a favorite in a field that includes defending champion Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania.

“It sounds cliche-ish to say (the injury) was a blessing in disguise,” Kastor says, “but I thought that all along. I knew I’d be able to come back and fulfill the other half of my goals for the year, which was to run a fast marathon.”

Kastor, 32, thinks she’s in the best shape of her life, superior even to last year when she took third in the Athens Olympics marathon. “But you never know what race day brings and the challenges you’ll face,” says Kastor, who last month set a U.S. record for the half marathon (13.1 miles) at the Philadelphia Distance Run. In 2003, she set the U.S. record of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 16 seconds for the 26.2-mile marathon.

Kastor figured she was in sub-2:20 shape for Athens. The problem was the hilly course and hot, humid weather; Kastor ran 2:27:20. She has mentioned breaking 2:20 in Chicago, but that’s not her primary goal. “The marathon is my best event, and I’ve never won one,” she says. “I want to win. I feel I’m much better off just going out there and running an aggressive race than trying to obsess what my watch is saying.”

A Kastor win would be the first by a U.S. woman in a major international marathon since Kristy Johnston won Chicago in 1994. The drought is not on Kastor’s mind: “Whether it’s been done a million times or not, I just want to win one.”

Kastor is confident, thanks to the workouts supervised by long-time friend and new coach, Terrence Mahon, an ex- 2:13 marathoner who’s a protégé of Joe Vigil, Kastor’s retired coach. “She’s one-upped every workout she’d done before Athens,” Mahon says.

He tweaked Vigil’s training once he began working with Kastor at the start of the year. The biggest change was adding a workout that includes a tempo run at marathon pace followed by a speed workout.

“That serves two purposes,” Mahon says. “It puts more marathon-pace work in there and makes her come back with speed after that.

“The major difference is (physical) maturity. She’s able to handle a little more this year than she could last year than she could the year before that.”

Kastor, for all her devotion to training, has other interests including writing, cooking and eventually operating a cafe.

She has put the finishing touches on a cookbook. She’s also furnishing a beach house near Oxnard, Calif., that she and husband, Andrew, a personal trainer/therapist, recently purchased.

“I’ve had a great time decorating,” Kastor says. “I’m getting out of the pine cone-bear-log scene and going towards seashells and different shades of blue.

“We love it there. It’s like a family beach. There are really wide stretches of sand, and it’s very peaceful.”

Not to mention pine cone free.

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