Kara Goucher is My Patronus
*Note: If I mentioned speaking to you on the phone at some point today, ping me after the trials are over in 2.5 hours. MY BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kara Goucher is my patronus. This is why.
September 2010: I was training for what would be my first NYC Marathon with the Nike Run Club in NYC three times per week. Through Nike, I would become incredibly familiar with the world of women's distance racing. I was privileged to attend intimate events, and even run with, many of Nike's top runners at the time...save one. Kara Goucher was preparing to give birth to a son, and it was clear even to the super-sub-amateurs who thought 'shoe contracts' meant 'free shoes', that the 'powers that be' considered this tantamount to throwing her career away. She only missed one season. ONE. Having turned 30 and received my MBA that same year, I internalized that chatter about her priorities.
Exactly one year later, I would be pregnant with my first child, formally unemployed, and relocating to Houston to follow my husband's career. The chatter about Kara Goucher would continue to ring in my head every time someone asked me if I had a job (no) or friends in Houston (no). I couldn't help but wonder if the chatter around my priorities mirrored Kara's. In making the right choices for my family, was I making the right choices for myself? Was it unreasonable to think that my fancy ivy-league MBA would act as career insurance if my family needed me to take more than one season away from the job market? Was I making a huge mistake, was I the only one who couldn't see it?
Colt's birth didn't set Kara back much: she PRd by one minute for a fifth place finish in Boston 2011, qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team, and ran a 1:09 for a third-place finish in the NYC Half Marathon. There was some struggle in 2013 that led to big changes in 2014, but none of these changes or choices strike me as poor. Is she a has-been? No way! She ended 2015 on a fierce note; I cannot wait to see what 2016 brings.
When people ask about my career, as in "do I ever think I will make a comeback", I shrug. Am I a has-been? Maybe. I don't see it that way. As far as I'm concerned, I've "been there, done that." I had no idea in 2012 that the best in my life was yet to come. Sure I wrestled with these changes for a few years but now, none of the changes I made strike me as poor. 2015 was terrific, and 2016 is shaping up to be even better.
The pressures of and conflicting messages around adulthood, motherhood, and professional prowess all combine for me in Kara Goucher. When I cheer for her today, and there are tears running down my face as I write this, I am cheering for all us 'been-there-done-thats' with incredible accomplishments behind us, looking forward to 2016.
Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she coaches all kinds of runners for $30 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. Click here to download her Marathon Selection Guide!