Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Kara Goucher Ready to Try the Marathon?
Wednesday was the Millrose Games Press Conference and most of the mainstream media's attention turned to this Friday's rematch of Bernard Lagat and Craig Mottram in the famed Wanamaker mile.
We'll have more on that later (below), but the more newsworthy element in our minds was Kara Goucher's new enthusiasm for the marathon, and her indication that she may run the marathon this year.
Goucher took the second half of the 2007 by storm, first with her sprint over the final lap to beat out Joanne Pavey and Kim Smith for the bronze in the 10,000m at the World Champs in Osaka. Up next was an 8:34 3k, a 14:55 5k, and then what we consider her most impressive run of the season a 1:06:57 half marathon to win the BUPA Great North Run where she defeated Paula Radcliffe (in her first race back from her pregnancy) by nearly a minute and ran 37 seconds faster than Deena Kastor's American record (the course for the Great North Run is not record eligible).
After the Great North run, Goucher did not sound like a marathon was coming anytime soon. She said, "I have to say the half-marathon is really hard. The thought of going twice as far right now, No thanks, at least right now. But there's definitely a part of me that's intrigued now. If I could put the time in and the mileage in ... I feel like I could have handled those last two miles better. But a marathon, I'm still definitely not ready to do it." (25 minute audio teleconference that includes the quote above here)
The winter months let Goucher ride in one of the lead cars at the New York City Marathon (NYC Director Mary Wittenberg is a great marketer), have knee surgery (the week before Christmas she had a flap of cartilage shaved off her knee - she only missed 1 week of from running, then had 1 week of cross training, and then was "right back at it basically with 90 miles a week right after that.") and have a little more time to reflect on her incredible 2007. With the time to ruminate, Goucher sounds more eager to move up to the marathon.
Kara Goucher Press Conference Video (9:36)
Last year, Goucher went into the Great North Run with very little training for the half marathon distance. She did one longer tempo run before the race and she and her coach Alberto Salazar thought she could run 5:10 pace (1:07:44). Instead she ended up running much faster (5:06) with a 4:57 and 4:49 mile (yes downhill), despite slowing down the final two miles as the pace and distance caught up to her a bit.
Wednesday Goucher sounded more like someone wanting to tackle the marathon than she did just 4 months ago. Yesterday, she said of her BUPA Great North Run, "It really showed me with proper training I could have run even faster. It's opened my eyes that obviously I want to run another half and I want to run a full marathon now. I'm excited about it now. It's not something I'm dreading. Whereas before I was dreading that stage (the marathon) in my career."
When asked when the jump to the marathon may be, Goucher indicated it may be as soon as this November in New York. She said, "I would love for that to be this year, but I'm just going to have to see how the year plays out. Anything can happen, I had this knee surgery just totally out of the blue and unexpected. I want to run the New York City Marathon, it's a goal of mine now to come and win in New York, but it will have to be when the time is right."
(Alberto Salazar was in the audience with the press and while Kara was on stage was asked when he hoped Kara's marathon debut was going to be. He said, " I hope it's this year.")
Watching Paula Radcliffe win in New York, had a profound experience on Goucher. She said it "was one of the most inspiring experiences for me, seeing Paula and the way that she took the lead right away and pushed it... It was amazing. I wrote her a letter to tell her how inspired I was by it... Afterwards, I was reflecting and I was 'I want that to be me someday'".
No doubt beating the greatest marathoner in the world at the half marathon and then 5 weeks later watching her win the New York City Marathon increased Goucher's confidence to conquer the longer distances. Success breeds success and Goucher's 2007 has left her believing there is very little outside her reach. She said, "I always dreamed of going to the Olympics and being competitive and becoming one of the best women in the world... but now that I've won a medal at the World Championships and I've run the half marathon that I've run, it's kind of opened my mind to anything is possible. I believe I can get back there... My goals are bigger. I want another medal. I want American records and I want things that before that I wanted but they seemed a little out of reach."
As for Friday's mile, Goucher said she's a very "competitive person" and nothing short of the win will leave her satisfied. She's never run on the short track in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden but her husband Adam has. His advice? "Not to be intimidated and to go for it".
Kara initially planned a longer indoor season, but the knee surgery compacted it. After Millrose she will run a 2 mile in the UK on February 16th (in the same meet where Galen Rupp will run the 3000).
After their running careers, the Gouchers may be able to become marriage counselors.
Kara Goucher Press Conference Video(9:36)