Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today's NYC Half preview: Deena Kastor

Source: NYRR

The cookbook is on hold and so, for now, is starting a family. But that doesn’t mean that Deena Kastor hasn’t been busy.

The American marathon and half-marathon record-holder has been training for the NYC Half while working on what she calls her “current passion”—building a track and field facility in her hometown of Mammoth Lakes, CA.

A multi-tasker, Kastor has been working with her husband, Andrew, and two friends, Jim and Elaine Smith, on what they call the Mammoth Track Project. “Once it’s completed, we look forward to hosting the world’s athletes,” Kastor said. “We’re fund-raising and look to break ground this year.”

The track would be open to the public year-round. “Andrew and I have traveled the world, and we haven’t found a place on earth we like better than home,” Kastor added. “We look to share this with all athletes of all abilities.” The project motto is Elevate your fitness. Stay on track. “We believe that by becoming a better runner, you become better at any sport,” Kastor explained.

The project has diverted focus from the yet-to-be-published Making Strides in the Kitchen, a cookbook featuring Kastor’s own recipes and based on eating for optimum performance. “I’ve put a lot of energy into the Mammoth Track Project and my cookbook has suffered,” she said. “It’s completed, it just needs someone to move it.”

The track project also takes precedence, for now, over plans to expand the Kastor family. “Although Andrew and I want a family, it never seems an ideal time,” said Kastor, 37. “We still haven’t scheduled having a baby.”

Kastor herself is adopted, and because of her own experience she has a positive outlook on adoption. “Being adopted was something I always knew,” she said. “My parents continually reinforced that, of all the children in the world, they had chosen me. So I always felt special. When they had my sister naturally four years later, my parents led me to believe that I was getting a sister, not that they were having another child.

“My family is strong, loving, and generous in so many ways,” continued Kastor, who has never had any wish to trace her blood parents. “I know, without a doubt, that my success in sport and life is directly related to all they continue to offer me. To this day, my dad, mom, and sister travel to my races. They have been traveling with me for 26 years. They are a deep well of support.”

Kastor’s mother has been her inspiration. “My mom battled breast cancer nine years ago,” Kastor said. “She fought aggressive cancer like it was a head cold. Through a lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, the removal of all her lymph nodes, and losing her hair, she never lost her spirit. She never missed a shopping trip or Friday sushi dates with my dad, and never let a single flower go neglected in her garden.”

Kastor will run the NYC Half seeking to improve on the form she’s shown since her comeback from a broken foot sustained during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. It took more than a year for her to regain full strength in the foot. In the first weeks following the injury she was on crutches, carrying essentials like her water bottle around the house in a backpack. “It would be a celebration when I could walk down the street with my dog,” she said. “I looked forward to buzzing around the kitchen creating a meal for friends and family.”

More than three months passed before Kastor could run again. “That first day, just five minutes of running had an intoxicating effect,” she said. “Now, I look forward to breaking barriers again.”