No Fear Of Shedding Tears

Kara Goucher called me out–and no, I’m not going to cry about it.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

I am not one for shedding tears, or losing to girls, and I have no plans to do either at next month’s P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon. Sorry folks, but Kara Goucher will not beat me on January 16.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t run well in one of her first races back post-pregnancy, but c’mon now, how hard will it really be for me to beat her? I’ve never lost to a girl in a head-to-head matchup in 13 years of racing, and Kara hasn’t raced since, well, I can’t even remember! I’ll probably have to show her how to lace up her racing flats and remind her that a bib is a piece of paper with a number on it, not something that collects vomit.

Trash talking aside (for now, anyway), it should be noted that Kara and I have never actually met one another. I’ve watched her race probably a hundred times, know all her PRs and everything about her training history, including her most recent workouts all the way down to the tenths of seconds. (And no, a 34.9 second 200 at the end of a workout doesn’t scare me.) She, on the other hand, couldn’t pick me out on the starting line, or tell you any of my personal bests, even though I heard rumor that she recently printed out this photo of me and affixed it to the mirror in her bathroom for some added motivation before heading out for a morning workout. She can study that photo all she wants, but come race day she won’t know what that orange and black blur was that hit, err, blew by her on the way to the finish line.

In the interest of playing fair, however, I’m happy to fill in Kara (and everyone else, for that matter) on what she’ll be up against five-and-a-half weeks from now: an undertrained and oft-injured local club runner who works more than full-time and doesn’t sleep enough, but still managed to cover 13.1 miles a couple weeks back at the Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon at an average pace of 5:30 per mile. Last I checked, Mrs. Goucher was holding 5:35′s for 6-mile tempo efforts and taking advantage of every last gizmo and gadget her coach, Alberto Salazar, could get his hands on to speed recovery. In short, I feel pretty good about my chances.

Other than the race on December 5, I haven’t run longer than 12 miles in about 8 weeks, haven’t done a serious speed workout during that time either, or slept anywhere close to 8 hours on any given night. And no, I’m not buying any “the baby was crying in the middle of the night” excuses from Kara. Her job is to focus on beating me; Adam can play Mr. Mom until the race is over.

So, for the next five weeks it’s time for me to get semi-serious and pull out all the stops to ensure victory is mine in Phoenix. I will run longer than 12 miles on Sundays. I will start doing speed workouts again. And I will get my butt to bed at a decent hour every night from now until race day. No stone will be left unturned.

To keep myself accountable–and to keep Kara on her toes–I’ll be reporting back here regularly on my progress, as that known trash talker will most definitely be doing over on her own blog. I will not be intimidated, nor will I lose or have reason to cry after the race. And while finishing behind me might crush Kara’s confidence for a day or two, getting pushed to a fast time in Phoenix will most certainly bode well in her bid to win Boston in April. Now that would be worth shedding a tear over.

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Mario Fraioli is the web producer at Competitor.com. He is a former cross country All-American at Stonehill College and has run 2:28 in the marathon. He has all the respect in the world for Kara Goucher and is looking forward to the opportunity to race with her at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon on January 16. He can be reached at mfraioli@competitorgroup.com

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