EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Kara Goucher conquered her kick.

The middle-distance runner-turned marathoner entered the 5,000 meters at the U.S. nationals for the sole purpose of feeling more comfortable with her kick — that burst of speed that can often decide a race.

Goucher had felt uncomfortable with her ability to turn it on late at the Boston Marathon, where she finished third.

“I don’t usually fear the kick, but in Boston I did, big time,” she said after winning the 5,000 on Friday night. “And I think it cost me.”

Goucher, who lives in Portland and trains under three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, won the 5,000 meters last summer at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, for her first national title. She was second in the 10,000 meters and went on to run in both events in Beijing.

Last September, Goucher announced she was turning her focus to the marathon.

She finished third in New York City, becoming the first American woman to earn a top-three finish in the event in 14 years. Her time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 53 seconds was the fastest marathon debut by an American woman.

In Boston, 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 before Kosgei hit the tape 1 second ahead. Goucher was 9 seconds behind the Kenyan winner.

“If you can’t kick, sorry, you’re always going to be fifth or sixth – or ninth and 10th,” she said.

Goucher purposely didn’t enter the 10,000 meters at the national championships this week so that she wouldn’t be tempted to run the event at the worlds in Berlin – along with the marathon.

Salazar gave her a tactical plan for the 5,000 meters and she stuck with it, hanging with the pack at a slow pace before breaking out in the final 500 meters. She won in 15 minutes, 20.94 seconds.

With her speed demons vanquished, Goucher heads to Berlin in August with confidence.

“I’m excited for it. It will be like finding out who I am as a marathoner,” she said.

CEO FOR A DAY

High school decathlete Curtis Beach recently mentioned he’d like to run USA Track and Field someday. He got a taste of what the job really feels like Saturday.

CEO Doug Logan invited Beach to spend the day with him going to meetings and planning sessions and hanging out in the VIP section at the U.S. championships.

“It’s not every day that a world-class high school athlete is devoting mental energy to contemplating administration of the sport,” Logan said. “I was eager to meet him.”

The highlight of Beach’s week? Well, it would probably still have to go down as the moment he crossed the line in the final race of the decathlon to win the national junior title.

Still, lots of gold medals are being handed out this week. Not as many athletes get to spend time seeing the inner-workings of their sport.

“I’ve been passionate about helping the sport any way I can,” Beach said. “Not just doing it from the perspective of being an athlete.”

Beach, who just graduated from Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, will compete at the Pan-American Junior Games later this summer, then head to Duke.


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