Saturday, June 16, 2012

Should've Been in Duluth

Kara runs the 2008 NYC Marathon. Credit: matt semel
It's been a while since we last broadcasted our love of Kara Goucher here at Fit-Ink, but that's not to say we've forgotten about her or loved her a little less. I admit, we missed getting giddy in January for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials when she finished third and qualified for the Olympic team. But I wasn't about to miss another Kara moment when I caught word that she'd be in Duluth for Grandma's Marathon weekend. Except, I did. Again.

Liz might be the Fit-Inker who can cheer Kara from behind like she did in Boston or interview her over the phone or spend five minutes with her at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago expo. I'm the one who probably starts to sound like a crazy stalker (I swear, I'm not!). Suspecting that she's pregnant. Hawking the news boards to find out when Colt was born. Reading her blog updates. All because I've watched meet-and-greet opportunities slip through my fingertips at the cost of other races. When Kara ran RnR Chicago in 2009, I was pushing through some nasty headwinds at the Steelhead 70.3. And now today when Kara ran the U.S.A. Half Marathon Championships--she won and set a course record--I was picking up my packet for tomorrow's Motor City Triathlon in Detroit.

I didn't listen to my grandma-in-law months ago, and I didn't register for the June 16 Grandma's Marathon or shoot for a lottery spot in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. I always said I'd come back to run it, see Grandma, and get a more typical race-day weather experience--and I wish this year had been it. To see Kara--or know that she was sprinting toward Duluth in front of me. To run the same course as Abdi Abdirahman again--I'd like to think that his speed rubbed off on my legs at the 2012 Shamrock Shuffle when I surprised myself with speed I haven't seen above a 5K in months. To get caught up in the excitement of two Olympians running up Lemon Drop Hill, through the streets of downtown Duluth and then across the finish line. It might be an Olympic year and Kara and Abdi might be running 26.2 miles for Team USA come August, but this duo was using the Half Marathon Championship to prepare.

What amazed me even more than their times--Kara won in 1:09:46 and Abdi in 1:02:46--was that Kara hadn't run in Duluth since she competed on the Duluth East High School track team. That was roughly 15 years ago--back when she'd hand out water to the runners, not think about running 26.2 miles. But she still knows her favorite Duluth haunts. Like Bridgeman's, the 76-year-old ice cream restaurant that's mere steps from Grandma's finish line and where Kara was going after her win. How did I miss this ice cream when I ran Grandma's? Guess I know where I'm going the next time I'm in Duluth--I'm certainly not a runner who passes up ice cream after a workout.

Photo grabbed from matt semel at

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