Mammoth Lakes’ Kastor to take big step in comeback
It’s not a coincidence Deena Kastor chose to take the first big step in her comeback from last summer’s devastating foot injury by running in the Chicago Marathon.
Besides being flat and fast, the course provides a bit of Olympic symmetry since it will be used for the 2016 Games if Chicago wins its bid to host. Kastor, the American record holder, broke her foot at the Beijing Olympics.
“I have high expectations for the race,” said Kastor, who won it in 2005. “I’m really excited to get after it and lower my personal record.”
Kastor set the U.S. record of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 36 seconds at the 2006 London Marathon and believes she can better that mark, and even get below 2:18. Paula Radcliffe of Britain holds the women’s world record, running a 2:15:25 at London in 2003.
The 36-year-old Kastor is the first elite woman to commit to run the Chicago marathon, which is sponsored by Bank of America, on Oct. 11.
“Chicago regularly brings in a star-studded field,” she said. “I really think that I am going to have my work cut out for me.”
Among those Kastor expects to see in the field is Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania, who won gold in Beijing.
Kastor won marathon bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was among the favorites last Aug. 17, but felt something pop in her foot just past the 3-mile mark. She pulled up immediately with what was later diagnosed as a broken foot.
Her training for Beijing had gone well, and the injury took Kastor completely by surprise.
“Everything seemed fine,” she said. “My foot got tight for just 30 seconds before it happened. It was more painful than anything I’d ever been through before.”
That pain extended to her mental outlook. After years of preparing to perform on a global stage, Kastor was left with stores of physical and emotional energy she couldn’t use.
“It was bizarre to feel this pent-up tension and not have an outlet,” she said.
It didn’t take long for that sense of unfinished business to spur Kastor to launch a bid to run at the 2012 London Olympics.
“Being not able to perform to my potential (in Beijing) fired that desire,” she said.
Kastor, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., didn’t start running again until November, after her foot had time to heal from the break that was attributed to a vitamin D deficiency. She has addressed that problem by adjusting her diet and adding supplements.
By the spring she had resumed her normal training routine and returned to competition in the Bay to Breakers and the Great Edinburgh Run, winning the 10-kilometer race in Scotland in 32:38 to beat three-time champion Jelena Prokopcuka.
Kastor was a prerace favorite to win her second New York Mini 10K title this month, but did not race due to inflammation in her big toe. She saw a foot specialist in Toronto who advised her to temporarily scale back her training, especially on hard surfaces.
That’s fine with Kastor, whose love of running first took root as an 11-year-old on the trails in the Santa Monica mountains near where she grew up in Agoura Hills, Calif.
She laughed when asked what it will take to run 26.2 miles at a 5:18 clip.
“It’s going to take a strong start, a strong middle and a gutsy finish,” she said.
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