By David Monti.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

June 14, 2012

Deena Kastor's quest to make a fourth Olympic team came to an end yesterday when the 39 year-old Olympic Marathon bronze medalist decided that painful back spasms had caused her to miss so much training that being prepared for next Friday's 10,000m Olympic Trials race in Eugene, Ore., would be impossible.  She admitted that she had been unable to run or even cross-train for the last two weeks.

"I was so excited with how everything was going," Kastor told Race Results Weekly in a telephone interview.  She continued: "I need to be realistic about my prospects for running next week, and I don't think I'll be ready for it."

Kastor said her back began to bother her after her third place finish at the Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder 10-K on May 28, in Colorado.  She said that although her back felt a little tight before the start, it didn't give her any problems during the race.  She said she only started to feel pain and spasms later.  The pain, she said, was sometimes extreme.

"I've never had any back issues in my life," Kastor said.  "I don't know the root of it.  That's the frustrating thing.  It just felt like a tight back.  Racing on it seemed to aggravate it."

After five years of not running in spikes, Kastor had turned her attention to the track after her sixth place finish at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston last January.  Her spring campaign was going well.  She came close to the Olympic Games 10,000m "A" standard of 31:45.00 when she clocked 31:49.23 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29, at Stanford University.  She put in another solid effort at the USATF High Performance Meet at Occidental College in Los Angeles on May 18, running 15:23.51 for 5000m.  The Boulder race seemed to provide further confirmation that she was on track to make the team in Eugene.

"I was actually so excited with how I made the adjustment to lower mileage and had quickened-up a bit," Kastor lamented.  "It's been really fun."

With Kastor out of contention for the team, her Mammoth Track Club training partner Amy Hastings (31:19.87 PB), road racer Janet Bawcom (31:33.50), and former NCAA 10,000m champion Lisa Uhl (31:18.07) look like the favorites to make the team.  Uhl's training partner Shalane Flanagan will also contest the 10,000m but  has already qualified for the USA Olympic Team in the marathon and said today on a conference call with reporters that she's only training for the marathon at the Olympics.

Kastor emphasized that her illustrious career --which in the addition to her Olympic medal includes still-standing national records at 5-K, 8-K, 15-K, half-marathon, and marathon-- isn't over.  She said she plans to continue to receive treatment and get back into training.

"It was not an easy decision," she said.  She added: "I had to put the Olympic dream aside and get my body healthy.  It makes me realize how valuable my health his when you're in pain all day."


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