PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kara Goucher looks focused and determined in the TV footage from the 2012 Olympic Trials qualifying marathon in Houston. It’s the Goucher the world knows: fast and tough over 26.2 miles. PHOTOS: Goucher qualifies for Olympics
But there is another side few get to see.
It’s on display here, in her West Portland home, as she wakes her two year old Colt from a nap.
“Hey sweetie,” she says, picking the child from his crib. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon in early July.
“It’s okay, oh did you have a good nap? Are you still sleepy?” Goucher whispers in his ear as she holds him close on her chest.
It’s a soothing beginning. But no one likes the end of nap time. Colt begins to cry. “Oh honey,” she says, rubbing the child’s back and kissing his forehead. It’s okay,” she whispers.
Kara Goucher is one of the fastest female marathon runners in America, an Olympian, and the owner of a bronze medal in world competition.But to a fussy little one, none of that matters.
“He's out of sorts,” she says, walking downstairs still carrying the crying Colt. “You're out of sorts! That’s okay,” she says to him.
But this is a big day at the Goucher home and Kara hopes the package that arrived earlier in the mail will distract young Colt. Her husband, Adam, also a runner and a member of the 2000 Olympic team, carries the big box into the living room.
“Yeah? Can you help me open that?” Kara says to Colt. “Does that look like fun? Can you help me?” she says. As Adam slices through the packing tape with a knife, he looks up and says “this is pretty cool huh?”
It is indeed. Kara and Adam Goucher are opening the package carrying her uniforms and gear for the 2012 Olympics in London.
“And yah it’s just really, I mean just you know getting something that says 'USA', it’s just so, it’s so exciting!" she says.
Colt has quit crying and looks interested too as tops and warm ups and headphones come out of the box.
“Oh! What is it? You're going to help me now?” Kara says. “I think I see my racing uniform Colt. I think this is it! I've seen it on the news, now I've got it myself," she says, holding up a red running top.
This will be Goucher's first Olympics as a marathoner, and also her first as a mom. She barely stopped running around the birth.
“I remember that my mom was here and I nursed him and we sat for a minute and I waited until the clock turned 10:15 and he was officially a week old and I told my mom I'm gonna go for a walk. And I knew I was lying,” she says.
She was running.
And she’s rarely stopped since. Leading up to the Olympics, Goucher ran up to 120 miles a week both at Nike and on the streets of Portland. She's work out twice a day, in the morning with a coach and in the afternoon on her own, from her home.
“Sometimes I'll run down to the grocery store, the QFC. So I'll run down on Skyline for awhile then I'll run down Cornell, then down Miller to the grocery store and Adam will pick me up there and we'll grocery shop. And I'm always like, bring a sweatshirt it's cold in there. Then I get down there and I'm sweaty and I'm like, do you have my sweatshirt? And he forgot it! But I love running from my house," she says.
Kara Goucher started running as a 7th grader. The sport gave her confidence, focus and an inner peace unlike anything she'd ever felt.
PHOTOS: Kara Goucher through the years
Now, at 34 years old, she guards that time. “So running's really my time,” Goucher says. “And people always ask me if I think about Colt while I train or when I race and I really don’t that much," she says.
Although there was a moment of mommy guilt at the qualifying race for the Olympic marathon team when her son colt "melted down" as Goucher prepared to run.
“As we came to the starting line, he doesn’t like yelling, and there was all this yelling as we came to the starting line and he was just bawling! And my sister's holding him over the rail and he's just like baaaahhhh,” she recalls. “And Shalane (Flanagan) said 'I can’t look at your son, it’s gonna make me cry.' And I just blocked it out. You know I lifted up my sunglasses and said 'it's mommy' and he just kept crying," Goucher says. She thought only of running for the next 2 hours but with a mile to go and safely in 3rd place, which locked in her spot for the Olympic team, her mother's worry returned. “I was like, I can’t wait to go see him and of course by the time I finished he was perfectly happy," she says.
Now, with the marathon race just days away, the Goucher family is gathered in London hoping for Gold.
There are faster runners in the world, the Kenyans for example. But Goucher believes the Olympic course will slow everyone.
"It favors someone more like me who hasn’t run 2:19. You know? I haven’t run some of these times that the Kenyans especially did this past year or Shalane. We haven’t run these times. But this is a little bit of an equalizer, this course because no one's gonna be able to go out and just hit 5:20 from the beginning," she says. Goucher believes she has a good chance.
But she thought that in Beijing too and came away devastated, finishing out of the medals in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters races.
“Four years ago, I put so much pressure on myself to medal. I had medaled the year before at world champs and I felt if I didn’t come home with a medal it was a failure,” Goucher says. “Um (pause) living, you know, not medaling and living through that experience and realizing I was still the same person and especially having a son and just being a little older, I have a totally different outlook on this Olympics,” Goucher says.
It's a lesson seasoned by her journey.
“I'm just determined that I'm going to have a great race and I'm hoping it's good enough. But if it’s not, I'm not gonna... all I can do is what I can do," Kara Goucher says.