A Rejuvenated Desi Is Excited To Take On The World At 2014 Boston Marathon: “I’ve done everything I possibly could to put myself in a position for the win.”
Desi Came Up 2 Seconds Short In Her Last Boston In 2011 – Coach Kevin Hanson: “She’s been able to hit everything she was able to hit everything she did in 2011.”
April 20, 2014
In a rented loft space yesterday afternoon a few hundred yards from the Boston marathon finish line on Boylston street, an upbeat and rejuvenated Desi (Davila) Linden and her coaches, Keith and Kevin Hanson, of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project, addressed the media at an event organized by Brooks prior to her racing the Boston Marathon on Monday. Monday’s race is Desi’s first Boston since 2011 when she narrowly missed becoming the first American winner of Boston since 1985 as she lost out in a 3-way sprint for the title.
Desi was clearly thrilled to be back in Boston. “It’s Boston – the marathon where it all started. There’s such a rich history and you want to have a tiny little piece of it,” said Desi.
The return to Boston isn’t the only reason why the 30-year-old has been rejuvenated. Linden, who struggled in 2012 and 2013 with a stress fracture (which caused her to drop out early in the 2012 Olympics) and its after effects, comes into Boston after enjoying the first high altitude training stint of her career as she did her base work from January 7th to February 16th in Kenya.
“After the Olympics, it was kind of a struggle to get out the door every day, just fighting my body every day, just trying to get over that hump. Every day was a struggle and I needed to find a way to really enjoy it again and the opportunity presented itself to go somewhere new and train with new people, a different environment, and to be in a culture where it’s 100% running,” said Desi. “Going over there and experiencing it and rejuvenating my love for running was huge.”
Is Linden In Shape?
Refueled with passion, the question is, “Is Desi in good enough shape to possibly contend?” In her return to marathoning after getting injured in her 2012 Olympic buildup, Desi only ran a 2:29:15 in Berlin last September, far off the 2:22:38 she ran in Boston in 2011.
LetsRun.com talked at length with coach Kevin Hanson, the Hanson brother who devises Desi’s workouts, but never has coffee with Desi (Kevin revealed the emotional/psychology stuff and many coffee dates are the sole responsibility of his brother Keith) both Friday and Saturday.
He said Desi’s training has gone very well.
Kevin Hanson On Desi’s Buildup: “She’s been able to hit everything she was able to hit everything she did in 2011.”
“Her training has been very solid. She’s been able to hit everything she was able to hit everything she did in 2011 but the difference is what she had prior to that,” said Kevin to LetsRun.com on Friday.
“Everyone talks about the previous 12 weeks you did before the marathon but I really think it’s the previous two years that count (and Linden missed a year from the middle of 2012 – Linden got a stress fracture when preparing for the 2012 Olympics),” said Kevin. “She’s very fit right now, very excited but you can’t act like she didn’t miss a year because she did. She’s certainly in considerably better shape now than when she ran 2:29.”
“We’re excited about how Desi’s training has gone coming into this,” said Kevin on Saturday.
“The buildup here has been very similar to what we (did in 2011) with the exception of her getting all of her base work in Kenya,” added Kevin Hanson, before adding that Linden did purely base while in Kenya and that they as a result had her start her marathon-specific workouts a little bit later than normal when she returned to Michigan in February.
Hanson said the key to her training is the specific work they do for the Boston course, which Desi loves.
For Boston, Hansons-Brooks Trains For the Course – Not The Distance
“Boston is one of few marathons where you don’t train for the distance, you train for the course,” said Kevin Hanson.
In Kevin’s mind, Boston is a very unique race. If you look at the two halves of the course, the first half on paper should be significantly faster than the second half. The first half drops roughly 300 feet in elevation and has few significant uphills, whereas the second half has many noticeable uphills (Heartbreak hill included) and only drops roughly 125 feet.
If you ran the two halves separately as an all-out half marathon, Hanson thinks the first half would be 1:30 to 2:00 faster than the second half, yet most of the winners in Boston are people who run a negative split – they run the more difficult second half faster than the first.
“There’s a reason why negative splits are so important on this course and how difficult it is to run negative splits because of all the early downhills. It takes practice on running downhills, practice on knowing how that affects your quads and how things will be different once you get to the uphills,” said Kevin, who said the Hansons group is getting more and more confident in their approach to Boston and that they included a lot of practice of running “lengthy downhills.”
Last month in New York, Linden ran just a 71:27 at the NYC Half in her only pre-Boston prep race. Given that Linden’s marathon PR of 2:22:38 averages out to be 71:19, we know that may concern many of you about her being a contender on Monday.
While we didn’t specifically ask about Linden’s NYC race, Kevin Hanson made it clear that the group goes out of its way not to do benchmark workouts or put a lot of stock in a single prep race.
“We try out best not to do a benchmark (workout),” said Kevin. “We know the marathon is not about nailing one workout. “You can taper for a workout and make it a home run, a success, but it doesn’t tell you much if you do it in the midst of the big picture.”
That doesn’t mean his runners don’t repeat workouts from other buildups. They do. He said they always do a marathon simulator (26.2k) workout and a two x 6 mile workout as well. But crushing a workout while tapering for it versus hitting in the midst of a triple digit week are two totally different things.
What Does Desi Think Of Her Chances?
When asked if she been dreaming of sprinting past her rivals and crossing the tape first on Monday, Desi revealed that she has not.
“I hope I turn onto Boylston (at the 26 mile mark) with a minute lead. That’s what I always visualize,” cracked Linden, who then admitted the dream of having a minute lead is unrealistic in this day and age of great marathon depth.
But let there be no doubt. Desi goes into Monday’s race thinking she’s got a shot of being the woman with the laurel wreath on her head when it’s all over, yet at the same time, she realizes there’s only so much she can control:
It’s always you versus you. You can’t control if someone goes out there and runs 2:18. I don’t think I’ll be running 2:18 even if I have the best day ever. I can’t control that. I can control me. I’ve done everything I possibly could to put myself in a position for the win.
It’s something I want for myself. It runs from here (points to her heart) first. When I get to one mile to go and everything in my body hurts, you have to look for that one more thing. People will be proud of you no matter what you do. They will say, ‘You were so awesome, so great.’
But I have to go home and think about it, ‘Did I dig deep enough. Did I have any more in me?'”
No Regrets About 2011
Looking back at 2011, Desi said she honestly has no regrets about the race. She believes she gave it 100%. This year, she’s hoping that she’s stronger and able to stay steady on the 25th mile (the pace slowed in 2011 as the leaders gathered for a big last mile) to keep the pressure on so it doesn’t come down to a 3-way sprint finish.
When asked if she could handle a sub-5 close like the one put up by Rita Jeptoo in winning last year, Desi said there was no way she’d let it come down to that. “I think the best move is to make sure it doesn’t go soft for the (first) half this year. We gotta jump on a respectable pace early to hopefully take away the sub-5 away,” said Desi.
Lots more info below, or join in our “Predict Desi’s Time and Place” contest and win an autographed Desi (Davila) Linden baseball card: MB: 2014 Boston Desi Davila Prediction Contest – Win an autographed Desi ‘baseball’ card.
We video taped five segments during the Q&A yesterday at the press event. We’ve provided a transcript of some of the highlights of those segments below. Alternatively, you can watch them in their entirety below.
Video #1: Desi On Why She Went To Kenya And Whether It’s All About The Win Or Not
Desi explained why she went to Kenya: “It was kind of a struggle to get out the door every day … I needed to find a way to really enjoy it again.”
“After the Olympics, it was kind of a struggle to get out the door every day, just fighting my body everyday, just trying to get over that hump. Every day was a struggle and I needed to find a way to really enjoy it again and the opportunity presented itself to go somewhere new and train with new people, a different environment, and to be in a culture where it’s 100% running. You walk out the door any time of the day and there are hundreds of people running. They love it, embrace it and it’s easy to go out and get it done every day and find joy in it. It makes you appreciate that you get to do this as a job.
Going over there and experiencing it and rejuvenating my love for running was huge.”
Desi was asked if she thinks only about getting the win for the US or are there other goals? How does she mentally approach the race and does she think about doing it for the US? Are there secondary goals or is at all about the win?
Desi: “It’s always (ultimately) you versus you. … It (my desire) runs from here (my heart) first. When I get to one mile to go and everything in my body hurts, you have to look for that one more thing.
I think obviously John Hancock put together the best field ever on the women’s side, but it’s always you versus you. You can’t control if someone goes out there and runs 2:18. I don’t think I’ll be running 2:18 even if I have the best day ever. I can’t control that. I can control me. I’ve done everything I possibly could to put myself in a position for the win.
It’s something I want for myself. It runs from here (point to her heart) first. When I get to one mile to go and everything in my body hurts, you have to look for that one more thing. People will be proud of you no matter what you do. They will say, ‘You were so awesome so great.’
But I have to go home and think about it, ‘Did I dig deep enough. Did i have any more in me?’ …
If I’m the one who breaks the tape, I’m certainly willing to share that celebration with everyone, but he driving motivation, it’s not about the American thing, it’s really definitely in here (my heart) and something I really want and want to share with my team.
Video #2: Linden On Coming Up Just Short In 2011 And Whether She Can Close In Sub-5 Like Jeptoo Last Year
Linden has no regrets about coming up just short in 2011: “I think it was 100% effort.”
Linden was asked if she feels as if she gave it her all in 2011 when she barely lost or does she have regrets?
“I think it was 100%.
When I look back and go. ‘What think what I could have different?’ (I realize) my 25th mile was a 5:30, and we’d been under 5:20 since the 20 mile mark.
Could I have run faster there? I don’t think so. But when you look back and say, ‘How can you get better?’ Be a little stronger so you don’t have to run 5:30 to regroup. Run another sub 5:20. You just can’t let it get that soft that late in the race when you have two people there who can kick well.”
Desi’s not going to let it come down to a sub-5 mile like last year.
Desi was told that the last mile by Jeptoo was sub-5:00 last year and was asked if she could contend with that this year? Her response was great – she’s not going to let it come down to that.
“I think the best move is to make sure it doesn’t go soft for the (first) half this year. We gotta jump on a respectable pace early to hopefully take away the sub-5 away. If it does happen, that’s racing. If it does happen, I’m going to be focused on keeping contact and racing.”
Video #3: Odds & Ends: Desiree On Who She Trained With In Kenya And Whether Valentines Day Is Made Up (Does It Exist In Kenya?) And Her Name Change
As for life in Kenya, she said she ran many times with 2012 Boston champ Sharon Cherop, but that she hung out with ran most often with Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant. She said it was quite normal to cross paths with other stars like Mary Keitany, but she felt in general that the women in Kenya tend to train more on their own and not in large groups like the men.
Off camera, Desi talked about her name change:
“I guess I kind of kicked it around a while (not changing it publicly). But eventually I’ll be out of the sport,” said Desi. “(My husband) Ryan’s a big part of the team. I love him to death (so I thought) let’s just go all in and change it.”
Off camera, Desi also said today that she’ll race in the same shoe she always does – the Brooks T7.
Video #4: Kevin Hanson On Desi’s Training And Boston: “Boston is one of few marathons where you don’t train for the distance; you train for the course.”
Video #5: Keith Hanson On How He Thinks Desi Knows Boston Better Than Any Other Runner In The Field And Is Ideally Suited For It
He thinks it’s a huge advantage: