April 11, 2017 | Issue 74
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the morning shakeout
Heading to Boston? Join me on Saturday for the morning shakeout presented by Generation UCAN and hosted by Tracksmith. We’ll gather at Tracksmith’s new home (285 Newbury Street, Boston) at 8:30 and head out for a social 4-mile stumble around the city. Coffee, bagels, UCAN samples and plenty of tomfoolery to follow. Everyone is welcome! Just do me a solid and please RSVP at this link.

Good morning! Let's just jump right into it this week, shall we?

Going Full Droddy on you.

“The media and social media attention that came after it made it a little bit harder to move on from the race itself because I felt like I was trapped in that moment a little bit more than I would’ve been if that wouldn’t have happened,” Noah Droddy told me recently. “That’s all anyone wanted to talk about was that race, which people thought it was cool or whatever, but for me it was kind of devastating. I felt like no one was really understanding that side of it for me.” 

Droddy got a lot of attention at last summer’s Olympic Trials, but it wasn’t for his performance. With his long locks, Prefontaine-esque mustache, tinted sunglasses and backwards hat, the then 25-year-old stood out amongst his competitors and instantly won over fans and media with his hippie-like look, despite finishing in dead last.

The former All-American at Division III Depauw University has bounced back in a big way since, however, turning heads with a flurry of fast times and top placings in recent months. He was runner-up at last fall’s U.S. 10-mile championships, clocked a 63:22 half marathon earlier this year in Houston and, most recently, put up a 94-second personal best at the New York City Half Marathon on March 19, finishing seventh in 61:48.

I caught up with the Boulder-based Droddy recently to talk about his progression as an athlete, why he doesn’t take himself too seriously, what’s changed for him since his race in New York, how he bounced back from the disappointment of last summer’s Olympic Trials, making himself relatable to the average runner, and more. Check it out right here

+ Richey Hansen, Droddy’s coach, recently gave some additional insight on his mustachioed charge’s progression over the past two years—along with some background on the evolution of the Roots Running Project—in Part I and Part II of his podcast, Sessions. It’s almost two hours of part monologue/part interview, but worth a listen for any coach interested in learning what taking a long-term approach to developing an athlete really looks like. “It takes a year in the system to really see what you can do,” Hansen explains. “Which I think we’re seeing right now with what he’s had at the New York City Half. But the consistency and the trust in that the training is going to get you to a level that you have yet to touch was a big shift [for Noah]. Not necessarily believing he could compete against those guys but just trusting that what you’re doing is going to translate into certain levels of fitness when you go out there to compete.”

+ Droddy might not want to spend the next three or four years talking about his sub-62 minute half in NYC but no one can blame him for going on about it for three or four weeks. Stephen Kersh of Citius Mag spoke with Droddy a week before I did and got his thoughts on a few topics we didn’t hit on, like The Blue Jean Mile and gardening. Worth a read, unoriginal headline and all.

Let's go digging.

I’m still tired of writing about doping, but it’s not going away anytime soon, so I’ll continue to cover it when I’ve got something to say. The reigning Olympic marathon champion, Jemima Sumgong, got popped for EPO last week. Her former training partner, Rita Jeptoo, is also a known EPO cheat. Their agent, Federico Rosa, who I interviewed in 2014 shortly after news of Jeptoo’s positive was made public, was quick to disassociate from Sumgong and once again cast the blame at “unscrupulous Kenyan doctors who approach the athletes, brainwashing and subjecting them to illegal treatments.” Am I surprised? No. I’m not surprised by the positive test or Rosa’s quick statement trying to protect the reputation of his family’s business. It’s been the same order of operations every time someone from the Rosa stable gets popped: disassociate from the athlete immediately, admit there’s a doping problem in Kenya but proclaim their own innocence, get the athlete to tell the media they acted on their own (waiting on this in the Sumgong case), wipe their hands free of it. Rosa and Associates have had four of its athletes—Jeptoo, Sumgong, Mathew Kisorio and Agatha Jeruto—test positive for doping since 2012 (Sumgong also previously tested positive for prednisolone, a decision that was later reversed), which despite “following more than 2,000 Kenyan athletes over 27 years and the cases positive to controls were numerically insignificant and all in the last five years,” is worth its own investigation. Drug testing, especially in Kenya, was virtually nonexistent for a majority of those 27 years (it’s still not even close to being decent, but it is improving thanks to organizations like the World Marathon Majors, whose funding of out-of-competition tests helped nab Sumgong), so a mostly spotless track record doesn’t amount to a whole lot in my book. Are there skeletons waiting to get unearthed? I don’t know, but I think someone should dig around a bit.

Quick Splits

— As Droddy’s professional career is just starting to take off at age 26, Tina Muir’s is coming to an end at 28. Why? “My heart just wasn’t in it any more, and once I finally admitted it out loud, I felt relief, not fear,” Muir wrote last week. The 1:13 half marathoner went on discuss the health-related reasons behind her decision, specifically amenorrhea, which many female runners are ashamed to talk about, apparently. As someone who has also opened up and written about a taboo health-related topic, I commend Muir for her honesty and willingness to help others through her journey. I hope to interview her for the morning shakeout in the coming weeks. Side note: Muir is relaunching her "Running For Real" podcast later this week and I recommend checking it out. Her old podcast on Runner’s Connect featured some great guests and made for insightful listening. 

— Quick correction on one of last week’s entries: Gary Robbins took a wrong turn at the Barkley Marathons and approached the finish line from the wrong direction, so even if he reached the gate seven seconds faster than he did, he still wouldn’t have counted as an official finisher. Gary’s classy blog post about the experience is worth reading. “I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one's fault but my own,” Robbins wrote. “That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.”

— On that note, Derek Murphy, who maintains the excellent Marathon Investigation blog, had a great post about what makes the Barkley Marathons stand out in a world where people go out of their way to brag about “accomplishments” they didn’t earn. “It’s exhausting dealing with people that cheat, steal, and lie their way through races and to Boston,” Murphy writes. “This story struck a chord with me. I am hoping that it will impact others as well, and maybe help them understand the meaning of true accomplishment. Be proud of your effort, but don’t claim a result that was not earned.

— In the continued interest of time, Confessions of a Watch Geek (see what I did there?!) was the most enjoyable thing I read last week. It resonated with me on a few different levels and made me take a little more pride in my own various forms of geekdom (running, writing, coffee to name a few). Plus, it’s just a great piece of writing (and also includes a nice complement to the “Work Hard, Rest Harder” entry from last week’s morning shakeout). “I was obsessed,” writes Gary Shteyngart. “And I had time to indulge my obsession. I believe that a novelist should write for no more than four hours a day, after which returns truly diminish; this, of course, leaves many hours for idle play and contemplation.”  

— I’ve linked to a few pieces in past issues of the newsletter and I’m going to share another one here this week: Ben St. Lawrence of Australia. Excellent, honest insight into his transition from party boy into serious athlete, what running has taught him, dealing with the selfishness of training, developing patience and more. The key to success isn't just working harder,” writes St. Lawrence. “You definitely do have to work hard, there is no denying that, but you also need to be smart, to figure out what works for you and then have the confidence to do that consistently.

— Next Monday I’ll be competing in the Boston Marathon. If you’re in the tracking mood, I’ll be wearing bib #599. If you’re somewhere out on the course, please tell me I’m doing a “guhd jawb!” Even if I’m not, I’ll love you for it.

That’s it for Issue 74. Get at me by replying to this email or shouting at me through the Twittersphere

Thanks for reading, 


P.S. Generation UCAN, this month’s sponsor of the morning shakeout, will be celebrating Meb Keflezighi’s legendary career on Saturday afternoon from 12:30-2:30 at the Sheraton in downtown Boston. Register here if you’re interested in attending (it’s free!). 

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