Deena blisters the field in Dallas; sets two records in winning half marathon

Deena Kastor might be 41 years old, but she can still run with the best of them.

Amid chilly and windy conditions Sunday in Dallas, Mammoth’s three-time Olympian and American record-holder turned in the fifth-fastest half-marathon time by a U.S. runner in 2014 with a new course record at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon.

“Going to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas half marathon, I knew I was in good fitness,” she said afterward, “but all other aspects need to fall into place in order to break records.

“Once the race started and I realized I was going to be running by myself into a headwind for at least 8.5 miles, I gave up on pursuing records and just tried to run strong.”

Kastor, the Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon in 2004, covered the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 57 seconds. Along the way, she also set new U.S. masters records for 10 miles (55:13) and 20K (1:08:18). She narrowly missed the U.S. masters half-marathon record (1:11:50) set by Colleen De Reuck in 2006.

The fifth-edition race, which had more than 13,000 participants, started downtown near City Hall and finished at Fair Park.

Kastor, the star runner on the ASICS Mammoth Track Club and a 25-time U.S. champion at various distances, ran the entire race with no other contenders in sight.

“At the age of 41, my fastest days are probably behind me,” she said after running through a practice at the Mammoth Track on Wednesday.

“But I love this sport, and I’m motivated by potential in sport and life. So, I keep going.”

The second woman to cross the finish line was Dallas native D’Ann Mineo (1:18:28), followed by Emily Field, also from Dallas, who placed third (1:18:49).

“Once I realized in the first couple miles of the race how windy it was I wasn’t really focused on the records, but rather putting my head down and giving it my best today performance-wise, which is what we expect as runners every time we get out there,” Kastor said.

“I just forgot about the records and just tried to run tough against the wind. When I got to 10 miles and saw I got the record, I got excited and it pushed me through the last 3.1 miles of the race.”

Last year, Kastor placed third at the L.A. Marathon in 2:32:39 and then went on to place ninth in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in 2:36:12.

Although she said that might be her last high-level marathon, she’s certainly still among the best half-marathoners in the U.S.

Only Molly Huddle (1:09:04), Serena Burla (1:10:48), Desiree Linden (1:11:37) and Adriana Nelson (1:11:50) own faster half marathon times than Kastor this year.

“As a competitive runner, a win is always a wonderful weekend, and to do it here at the Rock ‘n’ Dallas Half was really special,” Kastor said.

 “It was my first race back since the World Championships last summer, so it was a great celebration of health and fitness on the streets of Dallas.”

Kastor, the U.S. women’s record holder for the marathon (2:19:36) and half-marathon (1:07:34), has rarely raced in Texas since she finished up her collegiate career at the University of Arkansas, where she was a four-time SEC Champion and an eight-time All-American. She placed sixth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston.