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Linden was “immediately exceptional,” Natalie Davila says. Ninth grade, varsity meet, beating the senior boys.”For college, Arizona State’s coach, Walt Drenth, appealed to her with his no-nonsense approach and the culture he had created, where working hard was expected.Linden describes the vibe as, “Our team is really good.She and her older sister, Natalie, were always athletic.Linden played four years of varsity high school soccer, a winter sport in Southern California, which left the fall for cross country and the spring for track.Skeptics abound, and the same folks who think Linden didn’t really win Boston so much as survive it on a once-in-a-century weather day.Writers at Lets are already betting against her for 2020, predicting Huddle, Jordan Hasay, and Amy Cragg will make the team for Tokyo.And while her career statistics show sterling performances that put her among the fastest American women of all time (her PR, a at Boston in 2011, ranks sixth on the list), people tend to forget everything but a W.Even as Linden strode down the final stretch to the 2018 Boston finish line and the biggest moment of her career, Paul Swangard, commentating the race live for NBC Sports, called her a “blue-collar kind of runner.” Linden hasn’t watched a replay of that race, but sometimes when she’s in the middle of a run, coasting along the dirt roads surrounding her Michigan home, she’ll think about it and literally laugh out loud.
In a deluge of rain, with temperatures in the high 30s and 25-mph headwinds, Linden didn’t even bother to warm up.With her husband, Ryan, an Ironman triathlete, at her side, she walks down the driveway, clicks on her watch, and they break into a trot. For years, fans knew Linden—“Des” to anyone who’s really a fan—as the chill, head-down worker, the plugger who never hid her goals or her disappointment when, yet again, she came close but didn’t win.