Foot racing is one of the few sports which make us wish (at times) we were older as a new age-group leads to new challenges and better chances to succeed. Other times it just makes us feel old. So while NBA legend Michael Jordan copes with turning 50 today, Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist and 25-time U.S. champion across all running disciplines, competed for the first time in the Master’s Division (40+). Having turned 40 last Thursday, Deena chose Pasadena, California for her debut, taking on the Kaiser Permanente Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon benefiting CureMito (how’s that for a convenient name?)
So even as Jordan continues searching for an outlet to quench his infamous competitive spirit, Kastor was racing in Pasadena as a final tune-up for the Asics Los Angeles Marathon, a home town race she will be running for the first time March 17th. She was also going after Colleen De Reuck’s 2006 American master’s best for the half-marathon (1:11:50).
After a strong third-place finish at the February 2nd USATF National Cross Country Championships in St. Louis, Deena stayed right on-pace through the first half in Pasadena — 33:58 at 10K, 71:46 pace. It was in the second half that Kastor slowed to finish in 1:12:57 (5:34 per mile for the distance).
“It was definitely a strength person’s course out there,” she said afterwards. “There were a lot of hills to tackle, both up and down. I wanted to push hard the whole way, but it’s difficult to focus on times on a course like this where the hills pile on throughout.”
Colleen De Reuck set her record on the flat top Philadelphia Distance Run course — also home to Kastor’s one-time U.S. All-Comer’s record of 67:53 (2005). The Pasadena course featured significant elevation changes. Though a detriment to her record chances, the course may well serve her well March 17th as the L.A. Marathon, also has its share of rises and falls.
Still the open division American record holder at 67:34 — Berlin 2006 — Kastor will now return to her home in Mammoth Lakes for a final month of altitude training before returning south for the marathon in L.A. on March 17th. Having grown up in Augora Hills, California outside L.A. along the Ventura Highway, Deena was joined in Pasadena by many family members and friends.
For any still interested, the L.A. Marathon has less than a thousand slots still open for their March marathon.
Come to think of it, maybe M.J. should consider foot racing. It can handle all the competitiveness any one can generate, even one as obsessive as Michael Jordan. Plus, he’d be a newbie in the Senior Clydesdale Division.