IT TAKES A UNIQUE kind of person to be a world-class distance runner, but having a spouse who also understands the sacrifice can make the challenges of the sport a little bit easier.
Luckily for one couple, marriage and racing go hand-in-hand.
Professional athletes Kara and Adam Goucher, of Portland, Ore., will spend their 10th wedding anniversary this weekend in Philadelphia with more than 21,000 other runners at Sunday's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.
They will kick off their special weekend by meeting with fans today and tomorrow at the Health & Fitness Expo in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Kara, who will not run on Sunday due to a sore hip, is looking forward to sharing tips about her training and nutrition with other runners.
"This is the most fun part of my job besides racing," Kara said. "There are so many people who are average racers, but work just as hard as I do. They have to work it into their lives, too, and it's fun to meet people and hear their stories. I just love it."
Kara, 33, competed for the United States in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and most recently placed third in the 2011 Boston Marathon, which is quite a feat considering she was pregnant with her first child, Colton, less than a year ago.
"The first 4 months after Colton was born were very overwhelming for me," Kara admitted. "But, honestly, now I can't even remember what it was like before him . . . If I didn't have Colt, I don't think I would be as good of a runner as I am now."
Her husband Adam's constant support has also helped keep her on track.
"We're always there for one another, and now that we're parents, we do things like, one of us will run while the other watches our son, and then we trade," said Kara. "We both understand what it's like to sacrifice so much, not really having a social life, because this really is a 24-hour job."
While Kara rests her hip in preparation for training for the marathon event in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, she will watch Adam, 36, race competitively for the first time in almost 2 years
"My main goal this weekend is to get my Olympic qualifying time, which is 65 [minutes] or faster, and I'm confident in my fitness that I can do that," Adam said.
The couple has not been to Philadelphia since their days running together in the Penn Relays for the University of Colorado. It was on the track at Colorado where the two first met, and they've been at each other's side ever since.
"We're very fortunate to both have this unique profession and to get to be around each other all the time," Adam said. "This weekend, I'm a little nervous because it's been a while since I've raced, but she keeps reminding me that I can do it. She helps remind me what I'm capable of."
Sunday may very well be Adam's best chance to reach the Olympic qualifying time. The Philadelphia Half Marathon is widely regarded as one of the flattest and fastest courses in the world.
Known as the Philadelphia Distance Run for 32 years, the rebranded event is entering its second year as part of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, with live bands playing throughout the course.