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Manager nixes plans for Goucher to run in London Marathon

Kara Goucher

Former Duluthian Kara Goucher felt so good after finishing third in the Boston Marathon that she wanted to run another

26.2 miles -- this Sunday in the London Marathon.

The plans were nixed after discussions with her coach, Alberto Salazar, a former Boston and New York Marathon winner.

"She's not doing London," her manager, Peter Stubbs, said Tuesday.

The races on back-to-back weekends would have been unprecedented for a top runner after a top finish, but the slow pace in Boston plus the expectation of a long layoff -- she's going to try to start a family -- left Goucher begging for a quick turnaround. Goucher was serious enough that Salazar called in other top coaches to see if it was possible to run a second marathon six days after the first and still have a chance to win.

"I think that she

doesn't feel tired," Salazar said. "You want her to gain the experience, but you don't want to tire her out."

Competitive runners usually race in no more than two marathons per year because their bodies need that long to recover from the grueling distance.

But Monday's women's race was no ordinary marathon.

The lead pack ran the first mile at a 6 minute, 28 second pace -- more than a full minute slower than the athletes would typically run in training. Not until Goucher pushed the pace with about six miles left did they really break a sweat.

"I do feel like we jogged 20 miles and then ran a tough 10K," Goucher said Tuesday, jogging jauntily in place to show reporters that her legs weren't tired.

Goucher, who has run just two marathons and placed third both times, alternated between acknowledging, "It's really not going to happen," and pleading for the chance to get back on the streets to undo what she considered a tactical mistake in Boston that cost her a victory. At one point, she pulled out a Chinese cookie fortune that told her to consider small accomplishments along with the big ones.

"I'm not going," she said before breaking into a laugh. "But I'll let you know."

Complicating the plans is that Goucher and her husband Adam, a two-time U.S. champion in the 5,000 meters, would like to have children. Goucher is not planning to run a fall marathon or next spring, with the goal of getting back into shape for the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I'm not going to have a baby and then run three months later," she said. "The overall goal is for me to be the Olympic champion."

Goucher had only run one other marathon -- in New York last fall -- but she said that was a more challenging race where "I worried about dying." When she still felt strong more than halfway through Boston, she got overconfident and disregarded her game plan.

"It was impatience," Salazar said. "The problem with that is that everybody felt really good there."

Goucher said there was bickering in the lead pack, as runners faked aches and pains that would prevent them from being in front against the wind.

"I just couldn't take it any more," she said. "I just got antsy. I wanted it so bad."

She became so frustrated with the pace that she pushed to the lead with about six miles to go, abandoning the advice Salazar had given her.

"Everyone seemed really annoyed that we were running that slowly, but no one was willing to go to the front," Goucher said. "I wasn't going to let six women turn onto Boylston Street together. I wanted to get rid of the people who shouldn't be there. And then the ones that should beat me."

Having expended too much energy in the front, with an 8 mph wind in her face, Goucher didn't have enough left for a finishing kick. She was outsprinted to the finish line by Salina Kosgei and defending champion Dire Tune, who traded places several times on the last few blocks of Boylston Street before Kosgei hit the tape 1 second ahead -- the closest finish in the history of the women's race here.

Goucher was 9 seconds behind the Kenyan winner.

Tune took just a couple more steps before collapsing to the pavement, unconscious; she was taken to the hospital as a precaution, and it was there that she learned she finished second.