Kara Goucher, staying warm, 2 November 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Even with her special blanket from her son, Colt, Kara Goucher was not really warm. The winds at the start of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon were strong and gusts of up to thirty-six miles per hour. The temperature felt like in the twenties, and the elite women’s field of nearly fifty runners got off to a timely start.
Kara Goucher had planned on running around 2:28 pace, and with good weather, it would have been pretty close, but in this weather and in this race, Kara Goucher took some chances and as runners do, sometimes it works and this time, it just was not her day….
Kara Goucher is a seasoned athlete. As a college athlete she battled injuries, and when she graduated, she and husband Adam Goucher loaded up their stuff and moved to Portland, Oregon. Why? Because Kara knew that she and Adam could run better. From 2004-2011, Kara and Adam were coached by Alberto Salazar. From 2011 to 2013, Kara was coached by Jerry Schumacher. Adam retired from competition in 2010.
They spent several years racing as elite runners, and as Adam’s career came to a close, Kara’s career started to rise. In 2007, Kara took the bronze in the 10,000 meters in the World Championships. In 2012, she made the Olympic marathon team, after having made the 2008 team in the 10,000 meters as well.
Now back in Boulder, Colorado, training with Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn under their college coaches, lead by Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs, Jenny Simpson had the best season of her career in 2014, Emma Coburn set an AR in the steeplechase and Kara Goucher battled back from injuries, and started to round into shape.
Her race at the RNR Philly Half marathon was pretty good. She wanted a 1:12 and ran 1:11:39. Kara has been smart about her comeback from a back injury. Quite adept at the social media world, Kara has kept expectations down for her upcoming marathon return.
This past July Mark Wetmore, her coach, told this writer, while both of us were in Glasgow, Scotland, that Kara was coming along fine. Her half marathon in September showed that, while Kara Goucher was not in 2:24.52 shape, her personal best from 2011, when she was fifth at Boston, she was returning to shape.
The race was tough. Kara stayed on 2:28 marathon pace for the first half of the race, hitting halfway in 1:14, and stayed on the pace until about 30 kilometers, when the wind, the cold and running in no women’s land took its toll. For elite runners, this is where many drop out. Kara had sponsors and a public who worships her, and between those conditions and her absolute desire to race well, Kara Goucher gutted out a 14th place finish in the women’s race and a 2:37.03.
No women’s land is tricky. Running by oneself, in cold and windy conditions, is even more of a pain. It is downright horrible. Gutting it out in conditions like that is harder than a fast race. Ask anyone who has done both. Some days you have Personal Bests, and then, as famed RW writer Hal Higdon coined in the 1970’s, one has their Personal Worst. Higdon’s comment always was, embrace the personal worst like personal best. Easier to read than to do.
So, Kara Goucher ran a PW of 2:37.03. All runners should be so lucky.
Not the race she wanted, but, she is not injured, just hurt that her race did not go to plan.
The race through the five boroughs was cold and windy. ” I took a gamble, and stayed with the lead pack, to stay warm, but, it was just not my day” was how Kara Goucher, trying to hold back tears, noted to the media.
Several media members asked her questions about her retirement, which was just amazing to this writer, but, in city marathons the abundance of writers thrown into marathon coverage with only Wikipedia as their guide seems to be growing. Kara Goucher had a bad day. Athletes at her level have them, as they battle both conditions and competitors, as well as themselves. Kara Goucher handled the uninformed media quite well.
Kara Goucher, with her son, Colt and her husband Adam, are a media magnet. It is part of the reason why Oiselle apparel and SKECHERS footwear sponsor her. Other brands have told me that, once Kara does retire, her future as a spokesperson for fitness and women’s sports knows no limits. But that, at this time, seems several years away.
That evening, Kara Goucher showed up at the SKECHERS party with Meb Keflezighi and was as charming as ever. The throng that surrounds her, men and women, at all of her events should comfort her that many in the running community get that she is on the comeback trail and that there are ups and downs.
Kara Goucher is an athlete of immense talent and drive. There are many places that she will go in her journey as an athlete, a mother, a wife and a role model to many. That journey is fun to watch, from the outside, but, like all of life, fraught with difficult moments.
But, also wonderful moments as well.
Kara Goucher is back running, and that is good news.
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