Lessons learnt from Boston 2009: Kara Goucher, by Larry Eder

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As I was minding my own business today, a short piece in SI.com jumped out at me. It noted that Kara Goucher had commented that she felt as if she had run a twenty miler, then a hard 10k at Boston. That's fine. Then it said that she was considering racing London on Sunday. Her coach, Alberto Salazar noted that, while not impossible, it was probably not that likely.

Here is a bit of a reminder to our gentle readers: A marathon is supposed to be a twenty mile run, and then a hard 10k. Kara ran her heart out yesterday, she did just everything that she could have done to win, well just about everything. Be confident that Kara, her coach, Alberto Salazar and her team will go over every piece of that race to learn from it. Why? Because the goal is not to win just Boston marathon, the goal...

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is to win London 2012. Kara Goucher and her coach are working on the long term plan. Mistakes will happen, but little mistakes. Little mistakes take the medal from gold to bronze..or a medal at all.

The only issue that I had with her race was that she lead from 22 miles on. The wind was much more of factor than any had imagined, and Kara took the brunt of the wind.
That hurt her for the final onslaught, or as our big haired band from the 1980s, Europe, might say, "the final countdown!".

Yes, the race pace was, gentle yesterday, until twenty miles. But welcome to the World Champs or Olympics! That is how most of them are run! Kara has run two world class marathons and taken third in ING New York and BAA Boston, two of the toughest courses in the world and she ran against elite, seasoned marathoners! These women
are tough, Salina Kosgei has run twelve marathons!

What you saw from Kara Goucher yesterday was true emotion. She let her guard down after the race, because, as tough as she is, she did not do what she knew she could. She was lucky to have her husband, Adam Goucher, one of the classiest athletes in our sport, and a man who has more metal in him from surgeries than most hybrid cars today.

Want to know what it takes to be a world class distance runner? Ask Adam Goucher! The guy has endured some tough surgeries and rehabs and yet, has not developed some major attitude. The guy has had his titles and knows what it takes to reach that level. Being there for someone you love takes a lot of courage.

But, what was important, in my mind, was that, Adam was there when Kara,who ran a great race, needed him, and to me, that was not only refreshing but real life. An elite athlete is selfish, two elite athletes, one doing well, the other not-that can be a nightmare. Like marriage, two elite athletes is not a 50-50 deal all of the time.

Nike does not, in my mind, truly appreciate what they have with Kara Goucher. They sprinkle her on signs and advertisements, but they have not figured out that young American women identify with her and like the idea that she is real, not anorexic and has a real life. Women do not needidols or graven images, they want someone real. ee cummings real (look up the poem, I have run it here before).

Kara Goucher will run Boston again, and probably London someday. She will learn from this race, dust herself off and focus on the real goals. She is that type of athlete, and she is that type of person.

My only other suggestion is that she has to throw the mantle of all who care about her and need her to win off her back for her to achieve her ultimate goals. Pressure is one thing, the whole country relying on you can make one breathless. At the end of the day, as Cary Pinkowski said to me as we boarded the flight back to Chicago, " Hey, it's a marathon," with an all knowing, zen master knowledge.

Boston is a marathon. It wants respect and it seems to grant victories to the athletes who have struggled the most.

Kara Goucher will be back....


All photos courtesy of Photorun.net.

For more on the sport of athletics, please click on http://www.american-trackandfield.com

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