After a week’s worth of text flurries, social media shout outs, and (for me) an inordinately high amount of emojis – I finally got to talk to Kara on the phone and get the DL on Big Sur as well her post-race week, including a run-through of the Olympic Marathon Trials course in L.A., and a workout with Alysia Montano back in Boulder.
SB: Wow, what a week!
KG: Yes, to be honest, it’s been insane. Really good - but really busy. I’m looking forward to getting back to just training, and my daily routine.
SB: So Big Sur, woah. How were you feeling going into it?
KG: Things had been going well, but I had also come off a really busy month. And I was training through it. The week prior was a 110 mile week. Before that, I had been on the go. The retreat I went to in Minnesota, and then my own retreat. I really hadn’t been resting.
SB: What was your race strategy?
KG: Mark, Heather and I talked about it – and when we got out there we reassessed. The course wasn’t flat, it was breezy, there were a lot of variables. We decided to not overanalyze it. We said, “Okay, let’s go out with the leaders. If I feel good at half way, I’ll push the pace.”
SB: How was your mindset?
KG: When I got into it, and knew I was feeling good, I got aggressive. I pushed it and really started racing. I was like, “woah! I haven’t seen this person in a while!” There was back and forth with the leaders, and they’d look around, and in my head I’m telling them, “No, I’m still here!”
The races I’ve run in the last two years have been all about pace. Just stick to your pace and see where the chips fall. In Twin Cities, I was dealing with the hamstring. It felt like one thing after another. So to have a day where I really felt I was racing – was amazing.
SB: You passed the leader for the final time in the last couple of miles. What was that like?
KG: It was good. When I surged and she broke, I settled in to myself and knew I could just listen to my body. And I was ready to push it. In the last mile, I got to that gaspy place where you’re making those embarrassing noises (laughs) - and I loved it! I ran in the middle of the road, the crowd was cheering, screaming and it was electric. I could feel their energy, and it made me want to push harder.
SB: So good, love that.
KG: It was. I mean things have been going really well, but up until that point, I hadn’t really gotten the validation on paper. When I look at it, I say “That girl might not be top three at the trials today, but in a month – she could.”
First place finish! Kara's style: Mile 21 Shorts
SB: And the hamstring? It’s all better.
KG: Yes, I got in the car and drove for 5.5 hours right after the race (laughs) and if that didn’t aggravate it, nothing will. I’m in a good place, feeling healthy and strong. I’ve got my team of people, with massage, ART and mobility. I’m feeling ready.
SB: So I have to ask… after the race, you emailed me about a tragic port-a-john event, right before your race. You willing to share?
KG: Ohmygod. This is horrible. It might be the most horrible poop story ever. So I was warming up. The sun wasn’t up yet, still dark. There were only two port-a-johns in the elite area. The woman in front of me is taking a long time. I finally get in there, have a quick pee, and step out.
I go to change my flats, and I notice something brown on my hand. I smell it and instantly know… “Oh my god, that’s poop.” I have a little freak out. I see some more on my jacket sleeve. The smell. I feel like I’m going to throw up. I call Adam over, and he helps get me cleaned up. I’m pulling myself together and doing drills, when I look down and notice more all over my leg. And I’m like what-the-hell! I didn’t even go number two, so I figured out that the woman behind me must have had a big problem and it got all over me. It was honestly the most disgusting thing – and here it was minutes before the race start!
SB: Wow. And it’s crazy that that didn’t mess with your head!
KG: Seriously. I mean, the thing that we joke about… “That person just totally s--- on you” actually happened. What’s funny is that once the gun went off, I forgot about it. I forgot about it and got down to business.
After the race, I was putting my warm ups in a plastic bag, and Adam was like, “what are you doing?” I said something about taking the clothes to wash them, and he was like, no way. We put the whole bag in the garbage.
SB: Girlfriend, you did the right thing! You know we got boxes of those clothes and will set you up!
KG: (Laughs) I know. It was the right thing to do. But I was like, that Wallace Jacket is a nice jacket.
SB: Okay, poop story, check check. The next day you previewed the Olympic Trials Marathon course. What did you think?
KG: It’s good. I liked it. It starts with a 2.2 mile section then goes into a 6 mile loop that will be repeated 4 times. I like this type of course. I like to hear my coach and my husband a lot during races. It helps me.
From the LA Marathon course!
SB: What’s the terrain like?
KG: All super flat. There’s one “hill,” if you want to call it that, about 100m long. There is a technical section within the 6 mile loop, mostly just turns. It goes by the Coliseum which is cool, and finishes in front of the convention center.
SB: We can’t wait! Where will be the best place to spectate?
KG: You can easily watch part of the 2.2 loop, and then head about a mile into the 6 mile loop. At that point you can jog back and forth between two sections of the 6 miles loop – so you’ll get to see the race a lot. It’s an amazing course for spectating.
SB: Cowbells up!!!
So you’re back in Boulder. We loved seeing the pics of you and Alysia working out on the track.
KG: Definitely! Yeah, that was so fun. I got to spend a lot of time with Alysia and I just love her. We’d known each other over the years on the circuit, always super friendly, but we hadn’t spent much time together, and the photo shoot for Soleus allowed us to do that. She asked if I’d help pace her through a workout since she was doing longer intervals. She was doing a bunch of 1200’s at 6 min pace which is more my style – but a longer effort for her.
She likes to own lane one, so I just stayed on the outside of lane one, inside of lane two and that worked great. It’s funny…even after years of “knowing” someone, it’s great to form a new friendship. New friendships are possible all the time.
SB: Seriously. I need the pic of you guys as a poster on my wall. Woman crush Wednesday every day! Thanks for your time love, and can’t wait to watch you crush it in February!