Baseball fans may get a glimpse of Kara Goucher before Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago as the White Sox face the New York Yankees on KQDS-Fox 21 in Duluth. The U.S. Olympian is throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.
Running fans will get a much closer look Sunday, for more than an hour, but will have to be up early for the 6:30 a.m. inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon. The Web site competitor.com plans to have start-to-finish coverage specifically of Goucher on what’s been dubbed Kara Cam here. The 13.1-mile race is a tuneup for the World Championships women’s marathon Aug. 23 in Berlin.
“My objective in Chicago is get in a good, hard effort,” Goucher, 31, said recently from home in Portland, Ore. “I would like to use this race as a chance to execute my Berlin plan, so I’ll run conservatively for the first half of the race and try to drive hard the last third. I want to find another gear the last three miles.
“I have no time goal, but obviously I’d like to run a personal best. But I sort of ran the race of my life the first time I ran a half-marathon and I don’t know if I’ll be able to run a time like that right now, during a heavy training load.”
The former Duluthian has won her previous two half-marathons. In her debut at the distance, at the Great North Run in 2007 in England, she set an American women’s record in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 57 seconds, and was first in the Lisbon (Portugal) Half-Marathon on March 22 in 1:08:30.
Sunday will be her U.S. half-marathon debut, although the women’s field isn’t expected to offer much competition.
“[Coach Alberto Salazar] wants me to run the first half of the race at my goal marathon pace [about 5:18 per mile], and then start to pick it up. He wants me to really push that last mile,” said Goucher, who finished third in April’s Boston Marathon after being out-kicked in the final mile.
Goucher’s mother and sister, Patty Wheeler and Kelly Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth, are expected to be in Chicago on Sunday. Later in the day, Goucher and her husband, Adam, will take flights to Munich and Zurich, Switzerland, before arriving by train in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She’ll work out there for about 15 days before going to Berlin.
Also sharing in pregame festivities Saturday in Chicago, the White Sox beer vendor who was voted most popular by fans from the Miller Lite Appreciation Month held during July will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Country-folk singer and song writer Sean McConnell will perform an acoustic set and the national anthem.
Live audio commentary of Sunday’s half-marathon on competitor.com will be provided by former U.S. track Olympians Todd Williams and Juli Henner Benson. There also will be a live race blog by online editor Sean McKeon.