PHOENIX — American record holder and Olympic Bronze medalist Deena Kastor returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in ten months today at the seventh annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon. Kastor set a new Arizona state record with a time of 1:09:43, ending the longest dry spell of her now-legendary career.“This race solidifies that my training has been going well,” said Kastor, after her victory that smashed the 15-year-old state record of 1:13:39 set by Marie Boyd in Tucson. “Running sub 1:10 off this training makes me excited about my next phase going into the London Marathon in April. Today was the first time in a couple of years I felt like my old self running again.”
Kastor, who broke her foot during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon and spent most of 2009 recovering, ran an aggressive first mile in 4:54 and was on American record pace through four miles before a stubborn headwind and lack of competition slowed her in the second half. Reigning American marathon champion Ilsa Paulson of New York City finished a disappointing second in 1:17:04, well off her 1:13:20 personal best.
“I knew it could go only two ways, really good or really bad,” said Paulson. “I’ve been doing a lot of miles for many months, but the speed is just not there yet, it’s the last thing to come. I felt like I could run a 5:45 pace forever, but when I had to try to run a 5:20 pace to stick with Deena for the first two miles it just fried my legs.”
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