RRW: “Girl Next Door” Kaitlin Goodman Hopes For USA Marathon Championships Success

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA (01-Dec) — There’s a high school soccer tournament going on at Davis Senior High School here today, and marathoner Kaitlin Goodman takes a moment to show a visitor how some things have changed since she finished running track here 12 years ago.

Kaitlin Goodman at Dewey Halden Field at Davis Senior High School in Davis, Calif. (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Kaitlin Goodman at Dewey Halden Field at Davis Senior High School in Davis, Calif. (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

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“This track was dirt,” she said, pointing to the brick-red, all-weather track which now encircles the soccer pitch of Dewey Halden Field.  The new track, she said, was made possible by the fundraising of local boosters rallied by her father, Bill Gregg, who has coached here for over 20 years. Just off the first bend of the track, a plaque on the stadium’s wall of fame reads, “In honor of cross-country coach Bill Gregg. Thank you for your extraordinary dedication.”

Goodman –who will race in Sunday’s California International Marathon and the USATF Marathon Championships which finish in downtown Sacramento just 16 miles east of here– is a pure Davis running product.  The 30 year-old athlete grew up just a half a mile from the high school, then attended the University of California Davis where in 2008 she finished sixth in the Big West Conference Cross Country Championships, and 16th in the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships.  Despite moving to Providence, R.I., where she is pursing a masters degree in public health at Brown University and where her husband, Avi Goodman, is an orthopedic surgeon, Goodman will always be a Davis local.

“You can see my parents’ house from my freshman-year dorm room,” Goodman told Race Results Weekly with a laugh, sitting in the aluminum bleachers of the stadium.  She added: “Really close to home; about as close as you can get.”

Proximity to home and the fact that it would be the national championships were the deciding factors for Goodman to commit to the California International Marathon after a nearly two-year hiatus from the distance.

“Pretty much once they announced it as the championships, that sealed the deal for me,” Goodman explained.  “I always want to compete in national championship events and, obviously, it has a special place for me, being where I debuted, kind of my hometown marathon.  How better to have it be the champs and be here at home?

She made her marathon debut at the same race in December, 2014, running a solid 2:39:29 off of low mileage with some late-race pacing assistance from her brother, Brendan Gregg.  That qualified her for the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angles where Goodman struggled in the heat and only finished 54th in 2:48:16.  She had gone through the first half in 1:18:48 before things gradually got a lot harder.  She wanted to stop, but her brother shouted to her on the last lap to finish.

“I don’t think I’m a super-great hot weather runner,” Goodman said, wincing when the subject of the 2016 Marathon Trials comes up.  “That’s always been a challenge for me.  I don’t remember it ever getting hard, but it just kind of all fell apart.”  She added: “The last loop I was running something like 7:20 pace.  It was kind of, like, just finish.”

With then-coach Dena Evans, Goodman picked up the pieces and used the strength she had gained in her marathon build-up to attack her goals on the track.  She lowered her 5000m personal best to 15:29.89, and qualified for both the 5000m and 10,000m at the USA Olympic Trials in the summer of 2016.  She ran well, taking 12th in her 5000m prelim and 11th in the 10,000m.

“I walked out of that marathon devastated, heartbroken,” Goodman said.  “But, I was also very determined not to repeat that experience on the track.  I was so frustrated.  We thought that I was in 15 minutes faster (shape) than what I had run.  So, I wanted to put that fitness to use.”

This year, despite being busy with school and rolling her ankle, Goodman nonetheless lowered her 10,000m time to 31:55.46 last May, making her the eighth-fastest American woman this year, behind top players Amy Cragg, Molly Huddle, Emily Infeld, Emily Sisson, Shalane Flanagan, Kim Conley and Natosha Rogers.  Five of those seven women are Olympians, and all but Infeld have won national championships.

“I’ve been really pleased with it,” Goodman said of her 2017 season so far.  “I’ve started to figure out how to balance everything a little better in 2017. I started grad school in the fall of 2016.  After the Trials I had been putting off grad school and said, it’s time to go back, the start of a new Olympic cycle.”

Goodman began her marathon build-up on September 2nd, after spending the summer in Cape Town, South Africa, doing research for her grad school program.  She achieved consistent 90-mile weeks under her new coach Ray Treacy, the legendary Providence College coach who also coaches Huddle and Sisson.  She was able to do some of her training with those women, but the track sessions –which were marathon specific and at her own pace– she did alone.

“As much as our aerobic days could synch up, I did all my workouts solo,” Goodman pointed out.  “You’d probably say my husband, Avi, was my main training partner for the long runs.  He biked with me for most of those long runs, just carrying bottles and gels.”

Judging by her four races in the fall –she scored one win, two second places, and one fifth place at distances from 8 km through the half-marathon– Goodman is feeling confident about her chances on Sunday.  Although she would not offer a specific time or place goal, she certainly has a lot of room to improve her time from 2014.  Her 10,000m personal best is equivalent to a 2:29 marathon using one, well-tested conversion formula.

“I think I’m a totally different runner than 2014,” said Goodman, who has thought carefully about her race plan.  “I think I will draw on my strengths from being a track runner.  On the track, I’m like a metronome.  I can click off the splits, lap after lap.  We’re trying to bring that same approach to the marathon.  The only thing that’s under my control on Sunday is what I’m doing.  I’m going to run my race.”

Goodman will have plenty of family support along the course including Brendan and their younger brother, Bryce, who is a junior at Davis Senior High School.

“He’s on doughnut duty,” Goodman said of Bryce.  “His job is to bring doughnuts after the race.”

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