It was not supposed to end like it did.
Deena Kastor envisioned a Top 5 finish at the 2013 IAAF Track and Field World Championships in Moscow.
Running in hot, 81-degree temperatures with high humidity on a shadeless course in central Moscow, Mammoth’s most famous female distance runner finished ninth last Saturday, Aug. 10, and not without having considered dropping out of the race “more than a dozen times.”
“It was a really hard race,” she said in a video interview made available on FloTrack.com.
“It was very depleting and I’m definitely looking forward to taking some down time.
“I thought about dropping out more than a dozen times, but I stuck with it and I’m suffering the consequences now.
“It was brutal. It definitely took its toll on some of the girls who went out and maybe tried it above what they were ready to do, but the girls who pulled off the podium finishes today were amazing. I definitely felt like it was threatening out there.
“I may never run another step again after this.”
After arriving back in the U.S., however, Kastor said she may have overstated things a bit in the post-race interviews.
“It is amazing what a big meal and a good night sleep can do for recovering from an extraordinary effort,” she said in an interview.
“I feel good and I’m recovering with family in Southern California. And of course I didn’t want to think of running another step after the marathon in Moscow. I actually thought I was going to faint during one of my post-race interviews.
“Now, I could be persuaded to run again, but most of what I do in the future will be in television, motivational speaking and traveling with ASICS, my sponsor.
“Being a runner is a lifestyle for a lifetime and I will never retire from something I believe makes me a better person in so many ways.”
No one was more surprised at her performance in Moscow than Kastor herself.
Kastor, who turned 40 earlier this year, one week previous to her Moscow race set an American Masters record in the 10K Beach-to-Beacon race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
In that race, she ran 32:28.3 to place seventh overall, breaking a 13-year old Masters record set by Colleen De Reuck.
A week later, though, it was all could do to finish the marathon in 2:36:12.
“I know I’m not going to run 2:19 again ever in my life,” she said, “but I feel like I can keep digging down and trying to get the best out of myself. The race was a rough one—a mental and physical struggle from 5K on, so it made of a really long race.
“My main goal was to get Top 5; I really thought that I was ready to pull off my best performance and that would have been my best finish at a World Championship, but as the race went on, I was getting more flexible [with my goal].
“My goal changed to maybe Top 10, and then to just finish this race.
Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, the defending world champion who has trained part-time in Boulder, Colo., won the race in a come-from-behind fashion. At the 10K mark, Kiplagat was 15th, 29 seconds behind the leaders.
She caught Italy’s Valeria Straneo, the early leader in the race, in the final kilometers and won the race in 2:25:44 to becoming the first woman ever to successfully defend a world marathon title.
Straneo was second in 2:25:58, while Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi was third in 2:27:45.
America’s Dot McMahan (18th, 2:39:52) and Jeantte Faber (23rd, 2:44:03) also ran well.
In all, 46 women finished, but it was a testament to the difficulty of the conditions that 23 runners dropped out.
Kastor, however, persevered, although the problems for her began almost as soon as the race began, she said.
“I just don’t think I ever dug down so hard mentally and emotionally to get a performance out of myself.
“My legs were cramping, my back was getting tight, I was getting chills at one point so I knew that I was low on hydration, but every time I got some fluids, I seem to have reached hard to feel a little bit better. I think they could have doubled the water stations out there.
“I used every water bottle and every sponge I could get my hands on.
“I did the best I could. Usually it takes about 20 miles before you have to start working that last 10K, but I had to start working pretty hard early.”
Her post-race interview occurred just moments after the race, and Kastor said she was definitely wiped out.
Asked if she were serious about having run her last marathon, she demurred.
“We’ll talk again tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and had my legs up for 24 hours, but to make an emotional decision right now, I’d say yeah, I’m done.
“I’m exhausted. I can’t imagine mustering the energy to get another step in now.
“Nineteen [U.S. Teams] might be my final celebration, but I’m definitely honored to be a part of this sport, and I’ll be in it, whether it’s carrying water bottles, to wearing the U.S. uniform.
“We all have our part.”
Kastor’s next run, she said, will have nothing at all to do with competition so much as it will be in fulfilling a long-held dream.
“I am already focused on my 13-year dream of running from Mammoth to Yosemite. On Sept. 10, I am taking about a dozen friends on the 28-mile journey to Yosemite Valley, where we will have a catered campsite for the night.
“My favorite things about running—friendship, amazing food and the Eastern Sierra—sounds like the most ideal way to honor turning 40, summer’s close and a career that I can’t quite give up on.”