It was a much different scene than 2012, but Duluth, Minn. native Kara Goucher crossed the finish line at Saturday morning's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon with her hands held high and a smile on her face.
Really, that's all she wanted.
"I felt great. My coaches last night said if you go faster than 5:40 [mile pace], you are going to die," she said, laughing. "So I was really paying attention to that. But then with two miles to go, if I see something in the 5:30s, that's okay because I only have two more to go."
Goucher finished the race in fifth place with a time of 1:15:14, which is about six minutes slower than the course record of 1:09:46 she set during the 2012 USA Half Marathon Championships.
Goucher, a two-time Olympian, was returning to racing after battling injuries for the past year and a half. She said Friday afternoon her intention wasn't necessarily to win, but instead to run well and enjoy the moment.
"It was so great," she said afterward. "The cheers made it seem less daunting. I knew no matter what I ran today, I would be supported."
Goucher said Friday she hasn't ruled out a return to competitive racing, including possibly trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.