“I talk about why I had success in Boston—it’s a 26.2-mile race that this year felt like 30, right? You add in the wind, and the conditions, and it suddenly feels longer, which is part of why I have this advantage in my mind. And so why not test that theory out in the actual distance? I think I can finish a marathon feeling like I can probably go another 10 miles, I just couldn’t go a lick faster, so let’s see how far we can extend that. I think those are all intriguing to me.”
I’m super excited to welcome my first returning guest back to the show: 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden. Linden and I last spoke on Episode 3 in late January, a couple months before she won the race that changed her life. A lot has transpired since she broke the tape on Boylston Street in mid-April, including the launch of Linden & True Coffee, a coaching change, more media appearances than she can remember, and a sixth-place finish at the New York City Marathon a little over a month ago.
Linden and I caught up recently at The Running Event in Austin, Texas and talked about all of those things in great detail and then some, including where her scrappiness and competitiveness come from, why her win in Boston was so validating, the importance of having confidence, trust, and faith in yourself on race day, the advantages of training in a group versus training alone, how her training has changed since leaving the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, what the rest of her competitive marathon career looks like and why ultra-distance races appeal to her, what’s exciting her in running right now, why it’s important to tell your story, and a lot more.
“I could remember standing at the start line the next year and [seeing] how impactful what I do—that solidified it for me—how impactful a job I have to see the world come here and run this race. And when the howitzer went off, I couldn’t pull myself away and I was really overwhelmed at the time. It was a testament to all the work we do to put this on and just standing there and seeing the people run past the start line…it was just overwhelming, but it was something I’ll always, always remember.”
Really enjoyed sitting down with Peter Ciaccia, president of events at the New York Road Runners and race director for the New York City Marathon, for the podcast this week!
Ciaccia, 65, will be retiring next month after 18 years with the organization. He took over race director duties for the world’s largest and most popular marathon in 2015 and oversees the production of every NYRR event throughout the year. Ciaccia, who is “committed to growing and sustaining a vibrant, inclusive running community,” has helped grow NYRR’s total number of finishers by over 40 percent.
We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, including: what he’ll miss most about his job, and the mark he hopes to leave on the organization—and the sport—when he steps down after this year’s New York City Marathon; how he plans to spend his time in retirement and the origins of his impeccable fashion sense; his upbringing in the Bronx and how that shaped his passion for health and fitness; why he first got involved with the NYRR in 2001 and how his role there has evolved over the years; his time working in the music industry and how that experience has influenced the way he thinks about and puts on running events.
I asked Ciaccia about the importance of professional athletes to races and what he’s done to help bridge the gap between the front of the pack and the back of the field; anti-doping and NYRR’s Run Clean initiative, which he spearheaded in 2015, and why that’s so important for the sport; the NYRR Youth Wheelchair Training Program, which he helped launch in 2016, and the opportunities it’s created for disabled kids; and whole lot more.
“My goal isn’t to garner more media attention or to shock the world or to even top Boston. My goal is to keep the love of the sport, to stay healthy, and to continue chipping away at times because ultimately I think [that] kind of like Des Linden has shown the world, if you are able to stay healthy and train consistently for a long period of time, that’s where you get really good.”
Stoked to have Sarah Sellers on the podcast this week! The 27-year-old Sellers, who works as a nurse anesthetist in Arizona, was the surprise second-place finisher at April’s Boston Marathon, running a personal-best of 2:44:04 in cold, windy, wet conditions. Sellers, who took home $75,000 for her efforts, didn’t realize she was the runner-up until after she crossed the finish line.
In this conversation, we talked a bit about what’s changed for her since Boston while looking ahead to her next big race, the New York City Marathon on November 4. We also discussed whether or not she’s felt an added layer of pressure after her breakthrough performance at Boston, how she’s learned to move on from bad races, where her mental toughness comes from, injuries and the changes she’s made to her training and lifestyle in order to stay healthy, defining herself as more than just a “runner,” balancing training at a high level with working a demanding hospital job, the importance of the support system she surrounds herself with, and a lot more.
“I’m comfortable saying I’m a marathoner and everything feeds into the next marathon and making sure that’s great. So if that means being a little out of shape for some summer racing or some off-season racing, that’s OK. I think you kind of check your ego when it comes to that stuff and know that it’s playing into the bigger picture.”
Two-time Olympian Des Linden comes on the podcast and discusses a wide range of topics, including her pre-run coffee habits, how she pulled herself out of a slump last fall, what it’s like to live with a triathlete, how she’s approaching this year’s Boston Marathon, and the importance of being open and honest about her journey as an athlete.(more…)