The fastest American half marathoner of all-time returns to action on Sunday at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon benefiting the ASPCA.
The City of Angels has been good to the fastest American half marathoner and marathoner of all-time, Deena Kastor. Last year, in preparation for trying to qualify for the 2012 London Games, Kastor, a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon in convincing fashion, crossing the finish line in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 48 seconds.
She’s returning to defend her title this Sunday, and it’s been quite a roller coaster ride over the last 12 months. In January, the 39-year-old from Mammoth Lakes, California finished sixth in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. In June, she had to pull out of the track Trials due to a severe back injury. But just because Kastor failed to qualify for the London Games doesn’t mean she’s finished.
“I’m thrilled to be racing again,” Kastor says. “I feel great to be back on the starting line at another wonderful Rock ‘n’ Roll event. This race is a celebration of my fitness.”
And as a true testament to Kastor’s competitive spirit, she isn’t just using the event to high-five her fellow runners and wind through the crowd at a leisurely pace.
Sunday’s race isn’t a victory lap that capstones a long and successful career. No, Kastor wants to run fast in Los Angeles. She wants to win again.
“I’m hoping to go 1:12,” Kastor stated on Friday. “Running and racing is a high-pressure job, but I love it nonetheless. I love the camaraderie of the race, especially the Rock ‘n’ Roll events where people of all abilities can get together and celebrate their fitness.”
Despite the fact that she will be blazing by the bands on the course at a brisk 5:30-per-mile pace, Kastor admits she will be listening to the live music along the way. “I love it!” she says of the tunes. “These races are the perfect combination of music and running. Most of us are out there with our MP3 players in training and so it’s nice to have everything out there on race day for us.”
Now that she has weathered the back injury, Kastor says she’s looking at this race as a way to build her “foundation”. She hopes to run another Rock ‘n’ Roll series half marathon—perhaps Las Vegas in December—before a spring marathon.
Kastor, who continues to be coached by Terrence Mahon of the Mammoth Track Club, has been logging 70-80-mile weeks in preparation for this weekend’s race. “I used to run over 100 miles a week, so I’ve still got some more building up to do,” she admits.
Running and training aside, Kastor has been putting her efforts into another important calling: leading the Mammoth Track Club. Partnering with her husband Andrew, Deena will be helping transform the organization from purely an elite club to an all-encompassing group of local runners.
“The new Mammoth Track Club will welcome runners of all abilities,” Kastor says. “We will be sponsoring ten running events throughout the year as well as helping promote youth running programs. We really want to give back.”
This sense of community is what has spurred Kastor and her husband into action, and this weekend Kastor’s friends and family in the Los Angeles area will line the course and cheer her on.
“I always pick races that have sentimental value,” Kastor admits. “And the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon is a race that gives me this level of support. I will have people who love me close by. It’s wonderful!”
About The Author:
Duncan Larkin is a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released in July.