Des Linden On Running In The Rain, Victory & That Infamous Port-A-Potty Moment

Photo: RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images..
On Monday, Des Linden made history when she won the Boston Marathon. It had been 33 years since an American woman took first place, and Linden says going into the race, she felt like it was time to break the drought and win. "We wanted — the American women wanted — that win so bad, and they brought in all the big guns to train," she tells Refinery29. "This was our year."
On race day, the weather forecast called for heavy showers, high winds, and temperatures in the 40s. Depending on how you look at it, it was the perfect day to break a metaphorical drought. At one point, the conditions were so bad that Linden says she felt like calling it a day and dropping out of the race entirely. But instead, she persisted, and went on to cross the finish line at 2:39:54, cinching the victory for American women.
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Since then, it's been a blur for Linden. "I scheduled my life till Monday, and it was like, Win the Boston Marathon, was the only thing I had," she says. "Now it's getting through the next couple days doing all this fun stuff, and [I'll] take a break from running to regroup physically and mentally, and then see what excites me."
Time will tell what Linden does next, but she took a break from her whirlwind victory lap to tell Refinery29 about her go-to rain running gear, how to handle burnout, and all about that infamous port-a-potty break.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What do you do for self-care after a marathon?
"That's kind of an ironic question. After the race, traditionally you do ice bath, which is really funny, because no one was doing that Monday — because it was freezing. Heating up and getting a massage, and getting back on a good sleep schedule, and just taking time off from running.
"We’ve been training for that for so long, so [you have to] reset physically and mentally. It’s exhausting to throw everything into it, no matter what the outcome. You always need that good break afterwards."
The weather was epically bad during the race. What did you wear?
"I was really well prepared. We have this incredibly great lightweight Brooks jacket that was wicking off the water really well. I think the biggest problem with jackets is, you start sweating and building up moisture, then you get cold anyways. It was breathable enough, but also shedding the water, so it was great. I was like, I’m wearing this the entire day. I was surprised, because at first I was like, It’ll be gone in a mile or two, and there's no way [it will last].
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"I had great gloves with the same type of fabric that just folded over the top of the gloves, so my hands were fairly dry for most of the day. The rest was stuff that you can run through — your legs are fine. My shoes were soaked. There were just puddles that we were sloshing through, where it feels like it’s ankle-deep almost; that was kind of unbelievable."

Sometimes you chase results, and you lose sight of the bigger picture. You need to step back and get back to enjoying the process of running versus chasing down a win.

Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon Champion
How did you mentally prepare for the weather? Because there's nothing you can do to change it.
"Just knowing that, and wrapping your mind around the fact that everyone is running in the exact same thing, so it’s not any more difficult for you than it is for anybody else. So, be the toughest person out there, and you can use the weather to your advantage to a degree. Because if you can gut through it when a lot of people start getting soft or feeling sorry for themselves, obviously that's how you win. I train in Michigan, so [I run in bad weather] pretty frequently. Just haven’t done a marathon in it, so that was a first."
Everyone is obsessed with the port-a-potty situation, and the fact that you helped Shalane Flanagan and showed solidarity and girl power. What happened?
"I was like, I’m dropping out of this race for sure. This is horrible, and I feel awful, and there's no way I’m gonna finish. I nudged Shalane and was like, If you need anything along the way — set the pace, block the wind, whatever — I’m happy to do whatever I can while I’m still in the race. She took me up on that offer.
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"When I felt like it wasn’t my day, I wanted to do everything I could to make sure another American woman had that opportunity and had the best chance possible. So, I was like, Let me help in any way I can. In that process, my legs started turning around, I started feeling better. Shalane helped me as much as I helped her, I’m sure."

I’ve always been kind of the almost or second tier in high school and college. So, to get it done at the biggest race in an iconic way — that's huge and validates all the hard work, and theres been a lot of it.

Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon Champion
Did you expect it to become such a moment?
"It’s been a big story. When you’re running a ton, you spend a lot of time with teammates and go over every scenario. What would you do in this situation? It was kind of comical, because it was like being on a regular run, where she’s like, What do you think I should do? We talk about this all the time on a run, so it's funny in hindsight."
So, what does it feel like to have made history?
"For me, personally, it was incredible, because I’ve been chasing this for so long. I’ve always been kind of the almost or second-tier in high school and college. So, to get it done at the biggest race in an iconic way — that's huge and validates all the hard work, and there's been a lot of it. For women’s running, it’s incredible; it’s a big moment for us. Shalane won in New York, I’ve won [in Boston]. We’re back, we’re going to be in these races, and people should get excited about American distance running, particularly on the female side."
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Last year you took a break from running. What advice would you give someone who feels burnt out, either by a sport, workout, or anything?
"Don’t force it. It should be fun. There’s days that are good and bad, but if you have most days that are bad, and it’s becoming a chore, find a different outlet for a while, and give yourself a break. For me, I just needed to take time and remember why I started and what I loved about running. Sometimes you chase results, and you lose sight of the bigger picture. You need to step back and get back to enjoying the process of running versus chasing down a win."
I’m sure you don’t listen to music while you’re running, but I noticed you tweeted a Johnny Cash song. Are there certain songs you listen to to get inspired or pumped up?
"I’m a huge music fan. When I’m not running, I usually have headphones on. I’ve been listening to a lot of Macklemore, that's my pump up music right now, and then Chris Stapleton lately for wind-down music — it ranges all over the place. I don’t have any one go-to genre."
One final, very serious question: Did you really drink out of your shoe?
"It's not real. Yeah, I'm a big Formula One fan, and Daniel Ricciardo does that when he wins. The Red Bull boys are pretty cool, so I wanted to do it, too. It was this shoe, they're not bad, they hold it in, didn't seep out or anything — if you're looking for a good drinking shoe."

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