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Kara Goucher To Run NYC Half Marathon

She's using the race to prepare for the Boston Marathon.

She’s using the race to prepare for the Boston Marathon.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

What was supposed to be a stress-free return to competition last weekend for 2007 world 10,000m bronze medal list Kara Goucher, turned into an exhausting ordeal after her son, Colton, had to be hospitalized and receive emergency treatment.

“He had started to have a large mass on his face,” Goucher told reporters on a conference call yesterday hosted by the New York Road Runners just three days after she finished second at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix. “We took him to a specialist who said it looked like a tumor.”

That doctor wanted to operate immediately, Goucher said. But an MRI revealed that Colton, who was born last September, had an abscess which doctors were able to drain then treat with antibiotics.

“It turned out to be a staph infection in his lymph node,” Goucher explained. She continued: “In the end, it ended up being the best of the worst. He’s perfectly healthy and he’s doing great. He’s been amazing. He’s totally recovered.”

Goucher, 32, who lives in Portland, Ore. with husband Adam, feels recovered, too. Spending days in the hospital with Colton wasn’t the best preparation for a race, her first since finishing 10th at the IAAF World Championships marathon in Berlin in August, 2009. She had hoped to run in the 72-minute range in Phoenix, but hardly slept in the days leading up to the event. Her coach, three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, told her not to worry about her time.

“When, with what happened during the week, I told her two or three days before that she should just go out conservative,” Salazar said. “I told her she’d be exhausted.” He added: “She ran exactly where I thought she would.”

And that wasn’t a bad thing, Salazar said. Goucher, who announced yesterday that she would compete in the New York City Half-Marathon on Sunday, March 20, as part of her preparation for April’s Boston Marathon, had already completed six 100-mile (161-kilometer) weeks of training, her highest mileage block of marathon training, ever. Salazar said that last week’s crisis had not set her back.

“I feel her base is well on it’s way to be established better than it every has,” Salazar said.

Prior to last Sunday’s defeat, Goucher had never lost in a half marathon. After winning her bronze medal in Osaka in 2007, Salazar brought her to the Great North Run in New Castle, England, a month later to see what she could do at the half-marathon distance. In a shocking upset, Goucher romped to the fastest time ever by an American, 1:06:57, on the slightly aided point-to-point course, beating Paula Radcliffe by nearly a minute. Since then she’s won the Lisbon Half Marathon (1:08:30) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon (1:08:05), both in 2009. She wasn’t happy about surrendering her winning streak last Sunday in Phoenix when Mexi co’s Madai Perez beat her by over two minutes.

“You know, I lost by two minutes and I don’t like it,” Goucher said. “I hate to lose.”

But the race helped Goucher re-learn her race routine, and how it would need to be modified now that she has to travel with a Colton. She’s also been getting advice from her friend Paula Radcliffe who had her second child, Raphael, last September. The two speak on the phone frequently, Goucher said, and should talk even more now that Radcliffe is in New Mexico for training.

“It’s nice to talk to her,” Goucher explained. “She knows what I’m going through more than anybody else. She’s encouraged me… to just keep at it.”

Goucher was the first athlete race director Mary Wittenberg announced for the New York City Half Marathon, the richest half marathon in the United States with a $100,000 prize money purse. The former University of Colorado Buffalo said that she picked the race in New York because she knew that it would be extremely competitive and would provide a serious fitness test four weeks before Boston. Goucher said that choosing the New York City Half Marathon for her Boston tune-up was a “no brainer.”

“It just seems like a great run-up for a spring marathon,” Goucher said. “I knew that New York would really get great competition. I really needed to be pushed and run against the best women runners in the world.” She continued: “It was just the perfect choice.”

Wittenberg, a former rower and the 1987 Marine Corps Marathon champion, was clearly thrilled to have Goucher back in New York. Wittenberg had recruited Goucher for her marathon debut in New York when Goucher set the USA debut record of 2:25:53, still her personal best. Paula Radcliffe, who beat Goucher that day and successfully defended her title, had w on the 2007 ING New York City Marathon less than ten months after giving birth to her first child, Isla.

“In New York City we love comeback stories,” Wittenberg said.