Deena Kastors foot has healed. After nine long weeks of recovery, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist was given the green light from her doctor last Friday to gradually begin to work out on the appendage that had failed her last August in the 2008 Olympic marathon race in Beijing.
On Monday night Kastor spoke to a packed room at Snowcreek Athletic Club, trying to turn her tragedy and what she learned from it into an inspiration for others. Kastor went through the details of what happened on race day, including her emotional breakdown as she climbed into the emergency medical race van, after hearing and feeling a pop in her foot shortly after mile two, and realized she would be riding rather than running through the finish line.
As I sat there sobbing into a towel that was meant to wipe away the sweat I never got a chance to produce I came to terms with the fact that I was not going to get my gold medal that day and stopped crying, Kastor said. I thought I had convinced myself that I was whole again.
Since then it has been slow going for the athlete used to running and working out all day long. She ended up having to overcome much more to become whole again, including coming to terms with why her tragedy had to happen on television in front of millions of people, and the fact that her daily routine of slathering on sunscreen at least three times a day could have played a part in her foots collapse.
I have always considered the sun to be a work hazard and I put on three to four coats of sunscreen from the time I get up and walk the dog each day, Kastor said. When they were running tests on me at the hospital the only thing I came up deficient in was Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, so while I had plenty of calcium in my system it was not being absorbed into my bones.
Through it all however, she trusted her local doctor, Mike Karch, and when he told her that she had to give her foot, which had been fractured, eight weeks to recover, Kastor went the extra mile and gave it nine.
I wanted everything to be done right so that I would be out of the boot (the support piece Kastor has had to wear) for good, she said.
Kastor explained to the group her belief that people grow during times of adversity. She was determined that while not able to run she would put her passion into other things, and will be coming out with a cookbook some time next year, tentatively titled, Making Strides in the Kitchen.
She compared her ordeal to that of a student trying to become valedictorian. Even if the student is beat out by another for the prestigious position, they will still have been a much better student because of the pursuit.
Its not the moment that makes you, its the journey, she said.
Kastor spoke at Snowcreek as part of their lecture series. Look for more lectures starting in January 2009.