“I wasn’t ready to give up.”
Heading into 2012, everything in Hastings’ world was centered around making the Olympic marathon team in Houston. Despite not having the marathon experience or the credentials of Davila (who was coming off a second-place finish at Boston the year before), Shalane Flanagan (the bronze medalist in the 10,000m in the 2008 Olympics and second place in her debut marathon at New York), Kara Goucher (three combined podium finishes in New York and Boston) or Kastor, Hastings headed to Houston confident that she had the tools to construct a performance worthy of earning a top-three finish and a ticket to London.
An aggressive competitor who’s never been afraid to take risks in races, Hastings did what she had to do to put herself in position to make the Olympic team. After a painfully slow start to the trials marathon—the first mile went by in a pedestrian 6:11—Hastings planted herself at the front of the lead pack, ready to respond to whatever moves might be made.
But with Flanagan, Goucher, Kastor and Janet Bawcom unwilling to push the pace early on, Hastings, along with Davila, surged and strung out the field. It was a bold move that showed Hastings’ feisty competitiveness, and a move that would set the tone for the rest of the race.
Hastings settled into a groove and ran with the lead pack through the halfway point before she, Bawcom and Kastor fell slightly off pace near mile 15. But Hastings wasn’t willing to let her Olympic dream walk away from her, so, with a bit of encouragement from Kastor, she surged again and was suddenly back in the lead at mile 16.
It was a bulldog effort, but her blazing 5:18 mile split would be costly, and she had fallen off the lead group again by mile 20. As Flanagan and Davila dueled for the lead for late in the race, Hastings tried desperately to stay in contact with a resurgent Goucher, hoping to somehow stay close enough to outkick her for the final Olympic team berth.
Goucher held on for third and later confessed that she ran “outside herself” to drop Hastings in the final miles.
“I knew I was digging a hole for myself in the later stages of the race,” Goucher said. “Because Amy was just not going away.”
Hastings would finish fourth in 2:27:17, just 14 seconds off her marathon PR. But, for the moment, she was physically, mentally and emotionally devastated, knowing she’d left everything out on the streets of Houston and came up 71 seconds short of her Olympic dream.
She bit her lip to hold off the tears as she crossed the finish line, where Goucher, Flanagan and Davila were celebrating with American flags. She didn’t make the Olympic team that day, but she certainly played a big role in making the race while also seasoning herself through the trials of those miles.
“It was tough, when they broke away and I just kind of faded,” Hastings recalls. “I fell about a minute off and then stayed pretty even. With about two miles to go it was really hard, I had to fight the tears at that point. It was an emotional last couple of miles but it was a great experience, too. I’m really proud of the way I competed and how I went for it.”
After a brief break from training, Hastings returned to Mammoth, and true to her never-give-in nature, fought through the disappointment of not making the Olympic marathon team and set her sights on qualifying for a place on the team on the track.
“I came to practice every single day and I was sad in between practices,” Hastings admits. “But when I was at practice I was doing everything I needed to be doing, when I was at home and I was upset I was still eating the right foods, trying to get enough sleep. I wasn’t ready to give up.”