For Amy Hastings, the last year has had so many starts and stops that she might as well have been on the Lexington Avenue local.
But Hastings, 29, said in a recent telephone interview that she’s nonetheless right on track for a good race in the ING New York City Marathon, where she expects to arrive “in better shape than I have been for my last two marathons. And, I’m older and wiser.”
Hastings, who finished fourth in the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials and then made the team for London at 10,000 meters, had planned to make her NYC debut last year. Reluctant to give up on all the work she had put in, she scrambled to find an alternate race after Superstorm Sandy intervened, and chose the Yokohama Women’s Marathon on November 18. On the long flight to Japan, she began to feel under the weather; a head cold helped derail her race and she did not finish.
On her return, Hastings flew to California—where she had trained with the Mammoth Track Club from 2008 to 2012—to pack the contents of her storage unit into the back of her car and drive from San Diego to her native Kansas, where she celebrated Christmas with family before making the rest of the trip to her new long-term training base in Providence, RI.
There, she re-joined training partners Kim Smith and Molly Huddle and Ray Treacy, who had helped last year during her NYC build-up in a relationship that has since been formalized.
Her goals for the 2013 track season were to break 15 minutes for 5000 meters and to make the U.S. team for the IAAF World Championships at 10,000 meters. She fell just short of the former, happy nonetheless with a personal best of 15:09.59, and succeeded at the latter, but only after an agonizing wait. At the USA Championships on June 20, Hastings finished fourth in 32:31.28 on a hot, humid night in Des Moines, IA. One place shy of the podium, she had to wait until third-place Tara Erdmann fell short on July 19 in an attempt to gain the qualifying standard to know if she would be representing the U.S. in Moscow.
“It was a little bit of a rough summer,” Hastings acknowledged. “I’ve been in both situations now, where I’ve spent all summer trying to chase [the standard] and get on the team, and spent all summer waiting to see if I’m on the team. I’ll tell you, I’d much rather be chasing than waiting.” She finished 14th in Moscow.
Hastings, who hasn’t raced since then, had planned to use the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, in Boston on Columbus Day, to knock off the cobwebs. A niggle in her hip—now healed, she said—kept her home.
“One of the biggest things I've learned with marathons is that the build-up never goes perfectly, but if you can keep your head on straight through the ups and downs then [small setbacks] won't hurt your race,” she said.
“I’ve had a couple of tempo runs that were better than I’ve ever done before. I’ve been pretty much stride for stride with Kim.”
If that doesn’t offer sufficient cheer, there’s always Finn, a 4 ½-month-old kitten who’s been trained like a dog.
“We’ve got a cat who fetches and will sit on command,” she said. “It’s the perfect amount of entertainment during a marathon build-up.”