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After 16 months away from racing, Goucher returns to the starting line

Kara Goucher, mother of one, returns to racing today with a perspective built over 16 weeks. Her son, Colt, was born Sept. 25 in Portland, Ore. His first serious illness was last week as a staph infection caused an abscess on his jaw. Fluid was d...

Kara Goucher, mother of one, returns to racing today with a perspective built over 16 weeks.

Her son, Colt, was born Sept. 25 in Portland, Ore. His first serious illness was last week as a staph infection caused an abscess on his jaw. Fluid was drained and the baby's health improved while Adam and Kara Goucher spent three days in a hospital watching. The situation might have become life-threatening if not for prompt treatment, doctors told the Gouchers.

The family got to Phoenix on Friday for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half-Marathon.

"Colt is doing great and we feel so lucky," said Kara Goucher, 32, who grew up in Duluth.

Getting to the starting line for the first time since Aug. 23, 2009 is Goucher's next step. The track Olympian will be racing for the first time since finishing 10th in the women's marathon at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

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"I absolutely love racing and I've really missed it. I can't wait to stand on the starting line and feel those nerves and excitement," she said. "My main goal is just to get back to a routine. It will be the first time I've traveled with Colt and it is a great opportunity to learn how to deal with him and race.

"I'm hoping for a good solid starting point for the year, nothing super fast, just a good solid place to start from."

The long-range goal is making the United States marathon team for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. After today's 13.1-mile run, Goucher will look forward to the 2011 Boston Marathon on April 18 and the U.S. Olympic Trials in January 2012.

She's been training between 100-105 miles a week recently, under the eye of coach Alberto Salazar. Former Olympian Adam Goucher, recently recovered from knee ligament surgery, is helping as a training partner to set a pace during longer runs, like a 20-miler last week. Twin brothers Ahrlin and Oscar Bauman, living in the Portland area, are also running with Kara Goucher.

"The past few weeks my training has really come along; I'm starting to feel stronger. I've been doing all of my hard sessions with Adam, and usually with the Baumans. I feel lucky to have three great guys who are so committed to helping me be the best I can," she said.

While Goucher has been out of the public eye for more than a year, she's still visible. When the top 10 moments for the past decade (2001-10) were compiled by Running USA, she was recognized at No. 9 for winning a bronze medal at 10,000 meters on the track at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan. The Nike-sponsored runner also just signed a contract with Nutrilite, which produces vitamins, dietary supplements and energy products.

She'll be among 23,800 in today's half-marathon, coming in with a best of

1 hour, 8 minutes, 5 seconds in the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half-Marathon on Aug. 2, 2009. In three career marathons she has a best of 2:25:53 at the 2008 New York City Marathon. Goucher next plans to be in the U.S. cross country championships on Feb. 5 in San Diego, Calif., and the New York City Half-Marathon on March 20.

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Her comeback begins following some difficult days, but she's with her family, including her mom, Patty Wheeler of Duluth, who will have Colt in her arms when the half-marathon starts at 8:30 a.m.

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