After placing fourth at the Olympic Trials, Desiree Linden planned to race the Boston Marathon. Like everybody else, she’s trying to figure out what’s next

Very little has gone according to plan for anybody this year. And Desiree Linden is no exception.

After placing fourth on February 29 at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials (the top three—Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, and Sally Kipyego—made the U.S. Olympic Team), she was disappointed. The alternate position wasn’t what the two-time Olympian was after on the hilly Atlanta course. However, her spirits were quickly lifted, she said, because she also had the Boston Marathon coming up on April 20—the race she won in 2018.

“Having Boston on the schedule made me move on and not dig into what happened at the Trials too much,” she said. “Then Boston got canceled and I was like, ‘Dear god, I probably need to process this.’

Officials announced on Friday that the 2020 Boston Marathon would be postponed until September 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Linden said she found out at the same time everybody else did, at her home in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

“I went for a run during the press conference,” she said. “Obviously I had been connecting the dots like everybody else and it was the obvious thing to do.”

Linden, 36, took a little time on Monday during a phone interview with Women’s Running to reflect on her Trials race and the Boston Marathon cancellation, as well as offer some advice to runners struggling without races on the calendar. What follows are some outtakes from the conversation.

The Olympic Marathon Trials and evaluating her performance.- Linden said she hasn’t spent a lot of time going over the details of the Atlanta race. The course was difficult, but she felt prepared for it. The training got a little tricky when she came down with the flu about three weeks before the race.

“We managed the training—I just didn’t have a great hand of cards. I had a respectable day, but it wasn’t indicative of my ability and I think the further away we get from that race, the less I remember. I don’t think there’s a lot of value in overthinking it anyway. Obviously the course was super tough and I remember that Laura [Thweatt] was pushing the group most of the second lap [of an eight-mile loop, run three times] and part of the third. She stretched us out a little bit and I covered her move, then Aliphine and Molly went after that. I had run that last [5K] section of the course the day before and I wonder if I over-respected it or got it just right? I was on super tired legs and I knew that last section was going to be really tough for everybody, so I left a little bit in the reserves. When I finished, I was perfectly exhausted—my legs were toast and there was nowhere in those last three miles I could have done more.”

After the Trials finish, Linden said she was feeling more positive because her training had been going in the right direction after recovering from the flu. She knew she could capitalize on it for the Boston Marathon.

“Immediately after the Trials, it was just Boston, Boston, Boston. That was super exciting. That day after the Trials I felt surprisingly decent. Then this buzz about the coronavirus started getting louder and then it became a little more exhausting to get out the door. It was hard to think about workouts geared toward Boston when I started thinking, ‘I could just be recovering right now.’ But also, running is my normal and what makes me feel better. Anyway, I’m enjoying a little break finally and that feels good—I’m just running based on how I feel, assuming we can continue running outside. I’ll slowly get back into it.”

posted Wednesday March 18th
by Erin Strout