By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
BOSTON (17-Apr) -- Facing the assembled media at the Copley Plaza Hotel
here today in advance of Monday's 113th Boston Marathon, Kara Goucher's
girl-next-door smile never left her lips. The pressure she surely
feels as one of the few American contenders for victory here in decades
stayed well hidden behind her brown eyes. She projected the quiet
confidence that only superior preparation brings to a marathoner.
"I don't have that feeling anymore," said the 2007 IAAF World
Championships bronze medalist at 10,000m when asked about the jitters
she felt before her marathon debut at the ING New York City Marathon
last November. "I definitely feel more confident. I feel I have a
Goucher, 30, ran the fastest-ever marathon debut by an American on New
York's hilly and twisting course. Following world record holder Paula
Radcliffe stride for stride through the first half of the race, Goucher
overcame stomach problems, a dropped fluid bottle, and severe leg
cramps in the second half to finish third in 2:25:53. Her effort made
her the first American to reach the podium in New York since Anne Marie
Letko in 1994. More importantly, it showed that she had made the
transition from the track, where she was the 2008 USA Olympic Trials
5000m champion, to the marathon.
Under coach Alberto Salazar, Goucher said her preparations for Boston
exceeded what she did for New York. "I'm ready to run the race of my
life," she said, acknowledging that such an effort may not be good
enough to win. "Anything can happen."
Goucher demonstrated excellent fitness last month, easily winning the
Meia-Maratona Internacional de Lisboa in 1:08:30. However, she said
that her effort there told her less about her shape than she had hoped.
That's because based on her split for the last 1.1 km, it appears that
the course was long by 100 to 150m. "It really didn't tell me much,"
she said looking puzzled. "I had to run the longest kilometer of my
While the course here is different from New York's, featuring a net
downhill, there are many similarities in the racing conditions. As in
New York, the elite women run in a separate, all-women's race without
the benefit of pacemakers. Also like New York there are many hills and
turns, huge crowds line the course, and it can be very windy. Athletes
who run well in New York, tend to also perform well at Boston.
Goucher, who has done ten training runs on the Boston course, feels
all of this plays to her advantage.
"All I can compare it to is New York," Goucher said of the all-women's
race. "It comes down to pure racing. The time doesn't matter."