Goucher looks back on London OlympicsEDITOR'S NOTE: Duluth native Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore., reflects on her race in the Summer Olympics women’s marathon from Aug. 5, where she finished 11th in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 7 seconds. Teammate Shalane Flanagan was 10th in 2:25:51. Goucher wrote this for the News Tribune.
By: Kara Goucher, for the News Tribune
Editor’s note: Duluth native Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore., reflects on her race in the Summer Olympics women’s marathon from Aug. 5, where she finished 11th in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 7 seconds. Teammate Shalane Flanagan was 10th in 2:25:51. Goucher wrote this for the News Tribune.
Four years ago, in 2008, I raced two events in the Beijing Summer Olympics, at 5,000 and 10,000 meters on the track. I left Beijing with a feeling of regret and sadness for not enjoying an incredible opportunity in my life. I made a vow to myself that if I made the United States Olympic team again, for London 2012, I would have an incredible time and enjoy every moment. I’m walking away from London with an amazing experience that I will always treasure.
I had so many friends and family in London and it just felt like a very special race from the beginning. I knew that (training partner) Shalane Flanagan and I were incredibly fit and that if the opportunity arose, we were capable of some special performances. I knew I wasn’t a medal favorite; I knew it was the greatest female marathon field ever assembled. I thought that if other people made mistakes, and I had my best day, I could find myself inside the top 10.
About 30 minutes before start time we were greeted with heavy rains. It wasn’t comfortable, but it made Shalane and I laugh. After all, we are from Portland. We were excited to get this race under way. We quickly found ourselves at the front of the pack. The race was going out slow, quite conservatively, and because of that, there were a lot of women up front. We had no intention of leading, but there we were, in front and staying out of trouble.
Leading the Olympic Marathon for 12 miles is the biggest thrill I have ever had in my career. The crowds were literally deafening. The fans were so loud, cheering with excitement. I told myself to soak it all in, this was a moment in my lifetime that would never be replicated. It was incredible. The fans on the London course were the best this sport has ever seen.
Unfortunately, I started to cramp in the race. Around 16 miles I started to feel some unusual tightness in my adductors (hip and legs). As we started the final eight-mile loop my right calf began to seize up with tightness. Two miles later, it was my hamstrings, and as I pushed through the final four miles, my back was cramping with intense pain.
I ended up 11th. No top-10 finish, no personal record. Not what I wanted. Not what I have dreamed of. Not what has gotten me out of bed the past four years and what has motivated me to take hours of pain and spend literally days on my feet.
But I pushed to the end. I did all that I could. And unlike in Beijing four years ago, I left it all out there on that marathon course. I can walk away without regret. A little disappointment, sure, but no regret.
London was an incredibly positive experience. It was a step forward. I will always remember it fondly. It will be the race where I got a taste of what it is like to be the absolute best in the world, and that taste will motivate me to keep pursing my dreams. I have dreamt of running in the Olympics since I was a child. I have been fortunate to now have done it twice.
Let’s see if I can do it again.