Looking Beyond London
After London, Hastings took some down time from training to rest a nagging bone bruise in her foot and go on vacation with her family in Europe. She also decided to part ways with Mahon and the Mammoth Track Club, and returned home to Leavenworth at the end of August to contemplate her fall racing season—one which did not initially include plans for a marathon—when her phone rang. On the line was New York Road Runners elite athlete consultant David Monti. After some discussion about her situation, Monti suggested Hastings reach out to New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith, who Hastings didn’t know that well, to see about joining her in Providence, Rhode Island so they could train together for the New York City Marathon, a race Smith had finished fifth in two years in a row.
At the beginning of September, Hastings was on a plane to Providence to join Smith, who is coached by her college mentor Ray Treacy, the head cross country and track coach at Providence College. The impromptu pairing of these two top marathoners turned out to be a natural fit.
“It was one of the easiest transitions I’ve ever made. I moved into Kim’s spare bedroom and just started doing what she was doing,” Hastings says. “I just completely jumped into her training and at first I could only finish half of her work- outs, but it came around pretty fast. Workouts were consistent. It was really cool. I felt great.”
Hastings and Smith made the little over three-hour drive to New York together at the beginning of November, both feeling fit and confident. With a stacked women’s field that included reigning Olympic champion Tiki Galena of Ethiopia, among others, Hastings was optimistic about the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best female marathoners in the world.
“I was really confident going into New York,” Hastings says. “In New York I don’t know if I could have run a PR, but I think I could have had my best race.”
That race never happened, as it was canceled just two days before due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Not wanting to waste their hard-earned fitness, Hastings and Smith were granted entry into the Nov. 18 Yokohama Women’s Marathon in Japan two weeks later. Leading up to the race, Hastings came down with a head cold, which got bad enough that just a couple days prior she considered not starting. Her health eventually improved, but a few miles into the race an awkward achiness set into her body, and Hastings knew it was going to be rough. She dropped out just after the halfway mark. Smith went on to finish sixth in 2:27:35.
“I was struggling pretty bad,” Hastings recalls. “I hit the half at 73:30 or so and I was going down from there. It was not my day. You can get away with that in 5K/10K, but not in the marathon.”
Never one to dwell on disappointment, Hastings quickly picked herself up after Yokohama and started weighing her options for the year ahead. Her situation in Providence was only supposed to be an interim solution until she figured out a long-term plan, but Hastings quickly fell in love with the city—and fell in nicely with her new training partners, Smith and U.S. 5,000m record-holder Molly Huddle—and recently announced that she’ll be making a permanent move to the Ocean State.
Racing-wise, whether she seeks redemption on the roads — perhaps as soon as the March 17 NYC Half Marathon or the Boston Marathon on April 15 — or tries to improve her times on the track remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: when Hastings gets back up after being knocked down, her next move is to start running fast and kicking past.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” says Hastings, who turns 29 this month. “Failing doesn’t make me ever want to stop. It makes me want to push harder. Everyone has setbacks, but I’ve always had my best runs after disappointments.”
This piece first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Competitor magazine.