Kara Goucher was in Chicago this past weekend to run the (newly re-titled) Chicago Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon. (This was the one truly negative thing about my going to Ohio for the BR100 this weekend: Kara Goucher was finally in Chicago – and I was not.) She did pretty well, finishing in just over 68 minutes, ahead of every other runner, male or female (though she was the only world-class athlete in the field).
The real reason I'm bringing this up, though, is a little piece the Chicago Tribune wrote about her for the Sunday paper. One anecdote in particular struck me as interesting:
“When Goucher learned her Thursday flight from Portland to Chicago was delayed three hours, she went into the Nike store at the Portland airport, bought shoes, a shirt and shorts and took off for a 40-minute run.”
There is nothing terribly unusual about a world-class runner going out for a run during unexpected down-time - though that was clearly what the Tribune was presenting as novel. (“See there, Elaine? Runners are obsessed and quirky!”)
I, however, being an obsessed and quirky runner myself, had a number of different reactions:
1. What? She didn't pack her key running gear in her carry-on? What was she thinking? Who trusts the airline to correctly deliver their checked baggage to an important race?
2. What? Nike put a Nike store in the Portland Airport!? Has anybody else been to another airport with its own Nike store? I guess Oregon really is a kind of running heaven, isn’t it? (Well, Nike heaven anyway.)
3. What? Kara Goucher went into a Nike store in the state of Oregon and she had to pay for her Nike gear? You’re kidding me. What is wrong with the world when a person, who is the sponsored public face of a mega-giant corporation, can walk into a retail branch of said corporate giant, in the geographic epicenter of same corporation, and is asked to pay for the product she so successfully endorses? Wouldn't her very presense in the store be worth enough immediate sales dollars to warrant handing over any little thing her heart might have desired? Maybe someone like Kara Goucher should have, like, their own permanent golden-ticket giftcard hand signed by Phillip Knight himself.
4. And a similar question: How does Kara Goucher walk into a running store anywhere at any time, and not cause a bit of a commotion, let alone in Oregon? In my mind’s eye, the scene resembles something like Miley Cyrus showing up at the local mall. Can you imagine browsing the Dri-Fit rack while Kara Goucher perused the tank tops next to you, and you somehow not noticing?
4. What? She went for a run? Where exactly? If you are Kara Goucher in Oregon, do airport officials allow you to run repeats on the tarmac and enlist arriving jetliners to be your pacers?
5. What? Her flight was only delayed 3 hours? I guess all that money we spent for a new runway at O’Hare really is paying off. Someone tell the IOC that the effort is really paying off. (Because the phrase "paying off" should really get them jumping.)
That's my little dose of amused, bemused, mildly sardonic, observational humor for the moment. Please now, go about your business. Everything is normal...