Kastor still learning

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    Kastor still Learning

    Parker Morse – Monday, April 05, 2004

    Deena Kastor was considered a prohibitive favorite to win the 2004 Olympic women’s Marathon Trials, but even a prohibitive favorite keeps a Plan B. In this case, Plan B was “make the team,” and Kastor executed perfectly, even breaking the old Trials record (2:29:50) with a 2:29:38 finish, but plan A–winning–went out the window shortly after the 24-mile marker, when veteran marathoner Colleen De Reuck pushed by, going on to win in 2:28:25.”My strategy going in was to run comfortably and easily in the pack for the first half,” reported Kastor afterward. “That went out the window when Blake [Russell, 4th in 2:30:32] started running close to five-minute miles in the first few miles of the race. She’s obviously a good marathoner who came here prepared, and I didn’t want to give her too much of an advantage.” Russell’s advantage had ballooned to nearly a minute by 10-K, when Kastor stripped off her gloves and set off after Russell with Sylvia Mosqueda.

    “We were running about 5:30s. I was very comfortable, very within myself,” Kastor reported, observing that a great deal of her pace training had been faster than 5:30. Mosqueda, less comfortable, dropped back by seven miles, but trouble started for Kastor with a rock lodged in her shoe in the twelfth mile. “I could tell it was going to be a problem,” she said, “So I stopped, and broke a nail trying to get it out. Finally, I sat on the side of the road and broke another nail on my other hand, but finally got it out.” Observers guessed Kastor may have lost as much as twenty-five seconds, but “it felt like forever,” she remembered.

    Still, Kastor was secure in second place, and on the second lap of the criterium course, she caught Russell in the eighteenth mile, taking the lead one hour and 38 minutes into the race.

    That should have been the end of the story, as Russell was unable to latch on to Kastor’s pace, but around 22 miles, “I felt I was getting depleted. I knew what was happening, and I knew I was in for the longest three miles of my life.” Colleen De Reuck, who had overtaken Mosqueda seven miles earlier to move into third place, then Russell in the twenty-first mile for second, had Kastor in sight, and shortly after the twenty-four mile mark, almost exactly a lap after Kastor had moved into the lead, De Reuck passed “like a sprinter.”

    “I was worried,” at that point, said Kastor. “I was fearful that I wouldn’t make the team.” She looked over her shoulder to see how many more De Reucks might be coming, but none were in sight. At the finish, Kastor’s fast-closing teammate Jen Rhines was only nineteen seconds behind (the first not under the old record.)

    “I don’t think strategy was what hurt me,” Kastor explained in a post-race press conference. “The problem was nutritional. I’ll be sitting with a nutritionist” sometime in the future to figure out how to avoid this sort of problem in Athens. Kastor’s seven bottles on the course were filled with Cytomax, but she took no other fuel during the race.

    Kastor’s physical preparation for Athens has already begun. She sat in an ice bath before coming down to the press conference, and had a massage planned for the afternoon. Forensic analysis of today’s race will also happen. “This is a learning sport,” she explained. “We learn from every race.”

    Her competition plans include the track and field Trials in Sacramento, where, if her marathon preparation allows, she will contest the 5000m and 10,000m. If she places in the top three, however, “I’m definitely running the marathon in Athens.”

    Kastor may have hinted at her post-Olympic plans as well. “I’m going to New York City tomorrow as a guest of the New York Road Runners.” The NYRR has a press conference with Kastor, which will be broadcast live at nyrrc.org, on Tuesday.

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