It makes me laugh. I try not to label myself. Everybody at this level trains super hard, so it’s not like I’m outworking people. I think I have a degree of talent or I wouldn’t be here.
I’m not the sexy track runner who has potential in the marathon. We see track times and say, “She’s going to be really good when she moves up to longer distances.” I skipped track, so people didn’t have that opportunity to build that excitement around me.
Since winning, I’m like, “Oh, cool. The weight’s off my back.” I feel like there’s less pressure than ever before. Maybe that’s backward, but now it’s about going out and having a ton of fun.
I’ve seen parts of it, but it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I don't want to get emotional. I did watch it to see Yuki Kawauchi's race, which was really cool.
I always struggle with Newton Lower Falls and going over the 95. It’s the first long, hard stretch of uphill followed by a really long, hard downhill. Big moves happen there. It’s like the third lap of a mile race, kind of grueling, the point where you sort of settle—but Boston doesn’t allow for that. And you know what’s ahead: a right-hand turn into hills. It’s a challenging stretch for me, physically and mentally.
I feel like I’m built for Boston. I can handle it. There are taxing parts, but my body gets into a rhythm. Certainly if you look at the course profile and elevation map, it’s not a joke. Even though Boston is full of downhills, which are hard on the legs, I still think the New York City Marathon is tougher.
I didn’t completely wind down—it was still a 90-mile week, and I’d typically do 110 to 120. It was a tough day within a Boston Marathon buildup, but it’s fun to race. You can get stale if you don’t touch on that every now and then.
It’s been mixed. If you’re in a group, sometimes it gets competitive or you want to be in the conversation and you just go with what everyone else is doing versus saying, “You know what? I should probably fall off today and run solo.” It’s important to know how to manage on your own, and if you’re in a race and you have someone else to help you, boom, extra benefit.
A lot of them have to do with age. It’s not a critique on the old system, but I’m 35. With Boston, there’s so much downhill. We’d traditionally go on the course and do a bunch of downhill running, but now I don’t beat my body up like that. So there’s been a bump in strength training. It’s not super intense—a basic routine of lunges, squats, push-ups, and burpees, nothing fancy—but it’s necessary. I do it two days a week after hard sessions. I’ll do the lunges, or whatever the drill is, to mimic the downhill instead.
I do 1K repeats that get progressively faster. Every time I see them on the training schedule, I’m like, “Coach, that’s too aggressive. I don’t think I can hit them.” I dread it, but I surprise myself. I’m getting better at a thing I find daunting, a thing that in the past, I didn’t think I could be good at.
I gradually got back to looking forward to my runs and wanting to put races on the schedule. Prior to that, it wasn’t fun. I had to hit reset and ask, “Do I really want to invest in this anymore?”
Eight hours of sleep per night and a daily nap. Sleep is a simple way and the best way to recover. One day, two days of short sleep is fine, but when it turns into a trend, it adds up quickly, you feel it, and it’s almost too late to dig yourself out of that hole.
Those are certainly in my future. I don’t know how near. I’d like to get through 2021 on the road and do a couple more of these major marathons as long as the body hangs on. Then there will be a shift, a new challenge on another surface, and I’ll test myself in a different way. I’m looking forward to that.
Even when you retire, you’ll still have your coffee company, linden & true.
It’s been really fun. It’s more [my husband] Ryan’s baby, and I chip in when I can. When I start dialing down and spending fewer days on the road, I’ll be on a roaster at some point. It’ll be a fun hobby and hopefully nice business for us in the future.
That’s a question I go through every time I line up. When I started running, I was like, I’m only going to do this if I’m having fun. It’s way too much work if I don’t enjoy it and there are so many other things I can do. I really like competing. When that goes away I’ll hang up and I’ll be really content with my career.
This interview has been edited and condensed for publication.