American Kastor drops out of marathon

"The reason I run is that it makes everything easy for me, especially on the court." Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons

I think I was at James's place this night....We ordered in to watch the women's marathon together at her place with some beer and turkish food...it was fun...relaxing and all...
I am pretty sure I met up with pean that night as well...as I was suppose to hang out with some college friends, although that was sidetracked...another story...
American Kastor drops out of marathon
By The Associated Press
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 8:21 PM ET

BEIJING (AP ) - American Deena Kastor pulled out of the women's marathon early in the race at the Beijing Olympics with a foot injury.
Kastor, the top U.S. runner in the field in Sunday's race, dropped to one knee and held her right foot at about the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) mark. She got up and tried to walk it off but dropped back down again and was forced to give up.
"I felt a pop in my foot. I couldn't stand on it," Kastor said. "I didn't expect to be finishing the marathon on a bus."
She said the foot had been sore for the past week.
"I thought it was just tendons, they get hyper-sensitive leading up to marathon," she said. "I was icing it this week. It didn't affect how I was training."
Kastor, 35, moved from eighth to third in the closing stages of the marathon in Athens to win the United States' first Olympic marathon medal since 1984. She holds the American record of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 36 seconds set at the Flora London Marathon in 2006.
"We prepare forever for the marathon, and I had a sound race plan," she said. "I was excited to get out. I made my country proud and tried to win another medal. As athletes, we have ups and downs. Unfortunately, you can't pick the days they come on."
Another American, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, also pulled out of the race.
"I hurt my knee a few days ago," she said. "I just can't bend it, and it got worse and worse."
Romania's Constantina Tomescu Dita, 38, won the marathon in 2:26.44 and became the oldest to ever win the event at the Olympics. She pulled away from the lead pack near the halfway mark to win by 22 seconds over her nearest challenger.
Reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya outsprinted China's Zhou Chunxiu for the silver to the disappointment of the roaring crowd at National Stadium. Still, the bronze was China's first medal in track and field. Another Chinese runner, ZHU Xiaolin, was fourth.

Running on Fumes in Beijing

Published: August 5, 2008

It was a hot, humid, oppressive Thursday night, but my running group was ready to go. Jen Davis, one of the regulars, had mapped out a hilly eight-and-a-half-mile course in Princeton, N.J., and nine of us set out, trying to ignore the steamy weather.

I had a hard time. My legs felt heavy and I just could not get going. Along with five others in the group, I ended up cutting the run short, avoiding the last couple of miles. And that’s something I almost never do.
When I got home, I called my coach, Tom Fleming, to tell him what happened.
“I have just one word for you,” Tom said. “Beijing.”

Yes, I’m going. I’ll be part of the New York Times reporting team. And yes, I intend to run when I’m in China. I’ll even have a training schedule and will e-mail my results to Tom and talk to him via Skype.

One running partner, if our plans work out, will be Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners. She hopes to run for an hour at least every other day, if not more often.

“I’m going in there optimistic,” she said. “How bad can it be?”

Still, it gives me pause that the United States’ track and marathon athletes are not arriving in Beijing until the last minute. They’re training in Dalian, a comparatively pollution-free city north of Beijing, where they can get accustomed to the time zone and heat. They won’t even try to be out there breathing the Beijing air every day while sweating in the intense heat and humidity.
And it is hard to dismiss the cautionary tales. Tom Fleming, who won the New York Marathon in 1973 and 1975, is an experienced runner and coach. He was in Beijing twice, in 1991 and 1994, both times as coach for the United States women’s ekiden team. In ekiden, a relay race popular in Asia, runners cover various distances to equal a marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
The ekiden races were in March, so heat and humidity were not severe, Tom said, but the pollution had him worried. “What I noticed was that my white shirt was gray,” he said. “That’s when I said, ‘Holy crow.’ You know it can’t be good.

“Let me know if you see any Chinese people running,” he added. “I never saw anyone.”

That’s because ordinary Beijing residents almost never run on the streets where Tom was running.
Running, it turns out, is not a sport for most people in China. And when they do run, their style is, to Western eyes, a bit unusual. Joseph Kahn, a deputy foreign editor for The Times who just returned from five years as Beijing bureau chief, said athletics in China was mostly confined to sports academies that train young people to be Olympians. Otherwise, exercise takes place in the morning in parks, where people do yoga and tai chi and run backward, which they think helps with balance.

“Rarely do people run on the streets, but not never,” he said.

Some athletes who have competed in Beijing said they were defeated by the conditions there.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, a mountain biker, entered a race in Beijing last September. He started coughing soon after the race began, and his coughing fits were so severe that he had to drop out halfway through. Almost everyone had trouble, he said, with only 8 of 50 cyclists finishing the race.

Still, you can avoid the worst of one pollutant, ozone, by running in the morning. Levels peak at midday. And there is some evidence that you can develop tolerance to ozone over a five-day period, said Kenneth W. Rundell, director of respiratory research and the human physiology laboratory at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.

Added to the air pollution is the pollen. The Chinese government has warned that August is pollen season, and counts are expected to be high. I’m bringing over-the-counter pills containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine, a drug that is banned for Olympians under antidoping regulations but is legal for non-Olympians like me.

But Randall L. Wilber, a senior sports physiologist at the United States Olympic Training Center, told me that heat and humidity would take a bigger toll. “We’re actually focusing very, very heavily on heat and humidity as opposed to air pollution,” he said.

Endurance athletes who exercise in heat and humidity can become acclimated in about two weeks. The body adjusts by increasing the plasma volume, making it easier for the heart to pump blood to muscles and to the skin, for cooling. In addition, when you are acclimated, sweating starts sooner and the sweat is more profuse and more diluted.

But athletes — and others who try to exercise — will be affected by heat and humidity even if they are acclimated. And they may also feel the effects of pollution in Beijing, Dr. Wilber said.
He should know. He visited Beijing several times in preparation for the Olympics, and while there he did runs of 40 to 45 minutes.

“I’ve never been there when the air quality was good for more than 24 hours,” Dr. Wilber said. When he returned home, he coughed up phlegm, particularly after exercise. “It gradually worked its way out,” he said.

Dr. Wilber said he expects the air quality during the Olympics to be better than many anticipate. He is confident that the government’s pollution control measures will help.

I hope so. At least by running in the latest New Jersey heat wave, I should be as acclimated to heat and humidity as I can get. And when I run in Beijing, I’m going to try to abide by my coach’s advice. “The only advantage I had running in Beijing was that I did not try to maintain my same training schedule,” Tom told me.

If it is really hard to run or if it seems impossible to run as far as I’d planned, I hope I have the sense to cut a run short.

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