Kara Goucher is a rock star in the running world. She is beautiful and sweet and tough and strong. She has become the paradigm for the modern running woman and fast becoming it for the modern running mother. I am waiting for her to meet me in the lobby of a hotel in NYC and enjoying the surreal feel of the moment…a journey that began months earlier by a simple gesture. I have sent many of my Remanents running (and otherwise) inspired cards and tees to people I have genuinely admired over the years, and have received some of the most gracious responses. The one I received from Kara Goucher was just that–a heart felt note and sincere interest in my running and business. She makes her own cards to inspire her friends. So I asked her to design one (just for fun) with me for charity and she was in. Wow.
We live on opposite coasts, but with e-mails and mailings laced with reassurances like “less is more” and “keep it simple” flying back and forth, we very easily find common ground. We go with a Keith Haring-ish drawing by Kara and a Remanents pun (Kara is often described as a world-class runner “with a heart of gold”…she’s that, and BOLD). It was an effortless collaboration as she picks a shirt style, envelope color and tells a story to inspire on the back. She’s a designers dream. Kara chooses MADD [Mother's Against Drunk Driving] as her choice of charity. Her father was killed by a drunk driver years ago and this will honor his memory. As a mother of teenagers and a young adult, this one is a cause close to home. (See article on Kara’s family and MADD)
I am really excited to see Kara coming through the front door of the hotel. She greets me with a warm smile. She introduces me to her good friend Paula Radcliffe (yes, I am kind freaking out a little to be among these ladies). They have come from a luncheon and were just discussing the specifics of working out later in the hotel gym. It could have been any one of the running women I know scheduling their next workout. I am struck by their “normalness” and by the fact that they are working out the night before a race. Paula catches the elevator back to her room and Kara and I head off to get the new “Kara-tee for Charity”. She runs upstairs and returns shortly looking SO adorable with her baby belly and with husband Adam in tow. LDFs Jane and Jamie have tagged along to help out and are masters at keeping her engaged in conversation while Andrea takes some shots. Adam is charming and kind.
I get to jump in with Kara for a few of the photos and we head out onto the street in front of the hotel to take a few more. We are amazed that this incredible couple is still hanging with this forty something crowd. They are full of genuine excitement for the arrival of their son, a new house and the next part of life. It was hard to remember that they are world class runners and not just another really nice couple from Oregon trying to give back.
So Kara and I hope you will consider buying one of these cards or one of these tees so we can donate 100% of the proceeds to MADD to honor her father. They are only available online at Remanents.
Thanks Kara and Adam, you are a great couple and great sports and we know you will make incredible parents.
10 Questions for Kara:
1. Running skirt, friend or foe?
I have to admit this to everyone. I modeled one for a Nike catalog in 2007 and I really liked the skirt. I wore it a lot, even in the Olympic village! I got a lot of compliments on it. But I could never wear it for a hard serious workout, I just couldn’t.
2. What is your idea of the perfect run (details please…when, where with whom)
The perfect run would be on a beautiful sunny day in San Moritz. I have been lucky enough to enjoy several days of sunshine on the most amazing trails there. But for a perfect run, my dad would be there. That would be absolutely perfect.
3. What training tools/items/gear can you not live without? Will you use a jogging stroller?
I cannot live without my sports watch. I have never been able to just run and not worry about time. I like to document how far and fast I ran. No matter how fast or slow it was. I’m a bit obsessive about it. I love my sports watch! I doubt I’ll use a jogging stroller. When I run it’s my time, and I’m at “work.” I can’t imagine worrying about pushing my son around during that time.
4. What is your present state of running mind? Goals?
I am in my 7th month of pregnancy so running has taken a very different role for me right now. Instead of running as hard as I can and getting as fit as I can be, I have been able to just enjoy my running for what it is. It is time to reflect, time to see beauty, time to dream. I still have the same goals that I always have. Win a medal in the 2012 Olympics and win a Major Marathon here at home in the United States.
5. I was struck by the bond between you and Paula, what qualities do you value most in a (running) friend?
I value someone who is kind and thoughtful. I admire people who dream big and who hold themselves to high standards. I really appreciate people who are successful but don’t feel threatened by others. Paula is the greatest female distance runner of all time, but she doesn’t hesitate one second to help me out. That is a rare and wonderful quality. And you have to be able to be totally honest with a running friend. I love to talk, talk, and talk! I’ve gotten the closest to people on runs. There is an honesty there, you can share anything with each other.
OK, enough about running…
6. Best card you ever received? Given?
Asking me what is the best card I have ever received is like asking a mother which one is her favorite child. I have always loved cards. I have huge plastic tubs of them in my garage because I always save them. My mother is an amazing stamper and she has made me some of the most beautiful and clever cards, they are truly artwork. One of my closest friends always seems to send me a card at just the right time, when I am stressed or under the weather. Getting a piece of art in the mail is so amazing. To know that someone thought of you, that someone took the time to write it out and address it. That is a wonderful feeling. I am like my mom, but not as talented. I prefer to make a card, but I don’t have the skill she does. I am horrible at remembering birthdays or holidays, but I always send a card when I know one of my friends or family needs a smile. I have even given them to competitors who I see struggling! I just think that a card can lift someone’s spirits. It really can.
7. Why did you want to do a card to benefit MADD?
A few days before my 4th birthday my dad was killed by a drunk driver. It has forever changed the course of my life. MADD is a wonderful organization that helps families deal with the grief of such an event. I am proud to support it.
8. You look so cute in your “Run with a heart of [BOLD]” tee! Describe your personal style:
Why thank you! Because of my job, I spend a lot of time in workout clothes. I would say that I am a bit sporty but with a girlie edge. I love pink, I love hearts, I love all that stuff. I like to feel “cute” even when I workout, so that carries over to my personal style off the track as well.
9. Here is a pop culture quiz:
Favorite magazine to pass the time in an airport? I love Self. All the little tidbits of information, I can’t get enough!
A TV show you watch on a regular basis? How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family. Give them a chance, they are hilarious! I also love So You Think You Can Dance.
Movie you could watch over and over? Notting Hill. I have watched it a hundred times on my treadmill.
Last book you read that you loved? I read a lot and I’ve read a lot of great books. But the two I have loved the most I reread once a year. To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby.
What music would we hear in your house on a relaxing evening? I am a total top 40s girl. I like music that makes me feel happy. I listen to a lot of 80s, pop and rock, and a lot of what is current now. My husband is so ashamed! I am a sucker for the radio. I hear it, download it, and listen to it till I can’t stand it anymore.
10. What other things have you been up to (besides designing cards and tees) since you have not been running as much? I hear you are writing a book…what is it about, and more importantly, when is it coming out?
I have been writing a book. It is a book of advice and motivation for women based on my experiences though running. I am not an expert, and I am not a coach. But I have learned a lot along the way that I think can help other women, from beginners to elite, improve and discover the joy of running. It has been such an amazing project. It will be released in April 2011. I have also been going to a lot of of races and expos, just exploring a whole different side to the sport. Being around people who run for so many different reasons, but not because it is their job. It has been such an inspiring time for me. I have loved it.
Extra credit: If I wasn’t a runner I would be …?
Honestly I think that I would have gone on in school to get my PhD to be a Psychologist. I absolutely loved being a Psychology major. I still reach for Psychology Today first when I need something to read at the airport. I am fascinated by how people’s minds work. I would definitely be doing something in the Psychology field.
Kara and Monica
Photos by runner/marathoner Andrea Mihalik