Deena Kastor Switching Back To The Track

Deena Kastor competing at the 2011 NYRR New York Mini 10K. Photo: New York Road Runners

She’s hungry to make a fourth Olympic team.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

It’s been five years since Deena Kastor has run 10 kilometers on the track, but that will change on Sunday night when she pulls on her spikes to compete at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational meeting at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.  Kastor, 39, the American record holder for the marathon, is using the race to qualify for June’s Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., where she hopes to make her fourth Olympic team by achieving a top-3 finish.

Twice a silver medalist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Kastor took time off to have her daughter Piper Bloom Kastor in February, 2011.  She slowly rebuilt her fitness last year to prepare for last January’s Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston. There, she placed a creditable sixth in 2:30:40.  She realized then that she needed to refocus her training on the track.

“My training has been more aggressive and playful,” said Kastor through a statement provided by her longtime sponsor Asics.  “I am hungry to make this team. The change has been exhilarating and I’m pushing my limits in training.”

In order to get to the London Olympic Games, Kastor needs to achieve two time standards.  First, she needs to run 32:45.00 or better at Sunday’s meet to assure herself a place in the Trials.  Second, she needs to run 31:45.00 or better to reach the global IAAF “A” standard which will assure her of Olympic team selection should she place in the top-3 at the Trials.

“Her main go is to get the U.S. standard,” her coach Terrence Mahon explained in a text message to Race Results Weekly. “However, she has the green light to go for the Olympic ‘A’ if all feels good in the first few kilometers.”

Kastor’s personal best is 30:50.52, a time she ran in 2002 which held up as the American record for six years until Shalane Flanagan broke it.  She is still the second fastest American of all-time (Flanagan holds the top-3 marks).

Should Kastor make the Olympic Games again, it would be her second time as a 10,000m runner.  The first time came almost 12 years ago in Sydney.   Running under her maiden name Deena Drossin, Kastor started her heat in training shoes because she had an Achilles injury.  She was lapped by the field, finished 18th and did not make it to the final.  She ran as a marathoner in Athens in 2004, where she won the bronze medal, and in Beijing in 2008, where she snapped a bone in her foot just short of the 5K mark and was forced to drop out.

Mahon cautioned that since she hadn’t run a track 10K in so long, that a conservative approach was probably a good idea.

“However, being that this is her first track race in a while you never know,” Mahon wrote.  “She may need a race to shake the rust off a bit.”

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