The woman who holds the American record at the New York City Marathon will be back at it again in the streets of New York on Nov. 2.
Kara Goucher returns to the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon after battling injuries over the past 15 months. The 36-year-old two-time Olympian told ESPN.com a successful day would be running in the 2:26-2:29 range.
"I'd love to go back and beat my time on the course, but that's not going to happen. Never say never, but I think I'm a few months away from putting together a 2:25 on the New York course," Goucher said. "For me it's about running a solid race and reestablishing myself as a contender on the world stage."
Goucher made her marathon debut at the 2008 New York City Marathon and set a record with her 2:25:53 as the fastest time by an American in NYC history. Her personal best is 2:24:52 from the 2011 Boston Marathon.
Goucher's first race back from injury will be the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon on Sept. 21, and in the past few weeks, she noticed improvements in her fitness and has adjusted her time goals accordingly.
"I'd love to say I'm going out there and running a super fast time, but I have to be realistic of where I'm at," Goucher said. "I think I'm in better shape than I thought I was. We originally had a goal of 71 or 72 minutes, but we're predicting something a little quicker now (for Philadelphia)."
After nine years in Oregon, Goucher decided to move back to Boulder, Colo., in mid-December and reunite with coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs, who helped launched her career at the University of Colorado.
Wetmore has coached marathoners before, but his training philosophy is different from that of Goucher's previous coaches Jerry Schumacher and Alberto Salazar.
"Jerry was a very big mileage guy. Mark and Heather don't believe in high mileage. They're more controlled and want me to come off workouts a little better and snappier on my easy runs," Goucher said. "It's exactly what I need at this point in my career."
Goucher now trains with 2011 1,500-meter world champion Jenny Simpson and Olympic steeplechaser Emma Coburn. While with Schumacher, Goucher was paired daily with fellow marathoner Shalane Flanagan.
"The marathon can be a very lonely event and that's what made training together very special," Goucher said. "I miss that camaraderie and I miss (Flanagan) as a person. I think she really taught me how to execute workouts better and on a higher level."
The toughest part of the comeback for Goucher was watching from the sidelines of the Boston Marathon.
"It was fun for a little while, but then when the race actually happened I was not happy," Goucher said. "Knowing I still have more to give and not being a part of it has been hard."
It was also during the Boston Marathon that Goucher decided to make a new decision on her sponsor. She spent 12 years with Nike, but committed to a contract with Skechers upon seeing a 38-year-old Meb Keflezighi cross the finish line as the first American Boston Marathon champion since 1983.
"I was in talks with two different shoe companies at the time that he won. I committed to Skechers after the race," Goucher said. "I saw that they were so dedicated to [Keflezighi]. He was out for a bit and they still believed he had a lot more to give."
Goucher also has the support of Oiselle, an upstart women's athletic apparel company based in Seattle. On Sept. 9, Goucher will debut the new racing kit at the Nolcha fashion show as part of New York Fashion Week.
"I'm a little nervous, because I don't want to fall or look like an idiot on the runway. I figure you only live once," Goucher said. "I've been training hard for a couple months now, so it'll be fun to take a little break. I'll still be running 105 miles next week while I'm there."
As the mileage continues to increase, so does Goucher's hope for a third Olympic team and a successful track campaign in 2015. She has a preliminary plan for 2015 and 2016.
"My dream plan would be a really great marathon back in New York, next year do track and then perhaps go to Berlin or Chicago and chase a time that the IAAF has set up and focus in for Rio," Goucher said. "Things have come along really well. I think it's a reality that next year I'll run fast times on the track."