Kara Goucher

"I've learned that it's what you do with your miles, rather than how many you've run." ROD DEHAVEN

As awesome an accomplishment as it is to run in the New York City marathon, we have a philosophy about never participating in any activity that could make our nipples bleed. Instead, we'll just stick to the sidelines where we can nurse our Sunday morning hangovers with egg sandwiches and a fleeting glimpse of comely Queens native Kara Goucher as she jets by.The 30-year-old runner finished yesterday's marathon in 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 53 seconds, making her the fastest American woman to run the race and placing her third overall. It was the ravishing runner's first marathon, although she has previously competed in half-marathons and the Olympics. Check out our gallery of the fleet filly and fantasize about what it would be like to date a woman whose super-speed puts her only a few toxic mutations away from being a superhero.

November 3, 2008
Even if she hadn't contended for 18 miles, even if she hadn't run the fastest New York City marathon by an American woman yesterday, Kara Goucher would have had a lifetime of memories from her marathon debut."People were yelling, 'The Queens girl!' I just wanted to stop and give them all a hug," Goucher said after her third-place finish in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 53 seconds, the fastest time ever by an American woman making her marathon debut. "I can barely walk right now, but I loved it. It was awesome."Goucher, 30, who was born in Queens, grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Portland, Ore., vainly tried to keep pace behind women's winner Paula Radcliffe, but right around the 18-mile mark, cramps took a toll on her.Her emotions held up well, though. She and her two sisters moved from Queens to Waldwick, N.J., when Kara was 3. Her father, Mirko Grgas, was killed when his car was struck on the Harlem River Drive by a drunken driver's car, and the family moved to Minnesota.

All along the race route yesterday, Goucher felt the power of the spectators, who all seemed to know her story. "It's just such a good feeling to be supported by so many people who don't know me," she said, adding that her post-race "victory lap" was more of a celebratory stroll because she couldn't run anymore.Alberto Salazar, a three-time winner of the NYC Marathon, coached Goucher, who had never run more than 22 miles at once. She said Salazar left her a note in her backpack yesterday morning that said simply: "Have faith."She hung in with Radcliffe and second-place finisher Ludmila Petrova for as long as possible, hiding behind Radcliffe to shield Goucher from the strong winds until Radcliffe simply sped away.But Goucher still found her first marathon to be a success.

"The marathon just holds a lot of importance to me," she said, fighting back a few tears, as she did after the race.

"I was born here, because this is where my dad came to live when he came to the United States. This is where he lived. This is where he died. This is where my coach became who he is as an athlete.

"I was so excited to run here, and so sad it's over. Even as lousy as I feel."


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