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The Olympic Experience
A short, but successful spring racing season culminated at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., on June 23 in a 10,000m final that eerily resembled the race in Houston, with a slow start and yo-yo-ing pace keeping many women in contention until the final mile. And much like the race in Houston, the ever-tenacious Hastings found herself at the front of the field, forcing the pace until two laps to go when she fell behind pre-race favorite Shalane Flanagan and collegiate star Natosha Rogers. Not content to just hang on for third, however, Hastings slung herself off the final turn, going by Flanagan and Rogers in the final 100 meters as if they were standing still to win in 31:58.26.
“At first I really didn’t believe it,” Hastings says of her come-from-behind victory. “It was really an incredible feeling. “When I hit two laps to go it was still just trying to be top three and then I guess in the last 100 meters, I don’t know, I flipped the switch and went for the gold.”
Hastings returned to her sea-level training base in San Diego after the trials for a few weeks before heading to Europe for a pre-Olympics training camp. After finally realizing her dream of making the Olympic team, she was determined to enjoy the entire Olympic experience from start to finish, while also putting herself in the best position to be competitive in a loaded 10,000m field.
“I had made the decision ahead of time that I was absolutely going to go there and run as hard as I possibly could, put myself in the best position I can but I was also going to enjoy every second of it,” Hastings explains. “No matter what happened in the race I wasn’t going to let it ruin my Olympic experience.”
Not that the race itself went all that bad. Hastings stuck her nose into it from the start, shadowing the contenders through 5K. A two-lap surge just after halfway dropped Hastings from contention, but she kept fighting and shared the workload with fellow Americans Bawcom and Lisa Uhl for a few laps before pulling ahead to finish 11th in 31:10.69, a personal best.