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Once the Trials Crasher, Noah Droddy Is Here To Stay After His 2:09:09 at The Marathon Project

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“After Chicago, I said, ‘I’ve arrived in the arena of my marathon potential but I still feel like I’m sitting in the nosebleeds.’ Right? I’m not there yet. So now, I’m like, ‘Well fuck…I’m there now. I think.’ If I can do that again or even get a little better then that’s pretty good. I like to think I’ve proven myself as a competitor beyond just being like the puke guy or the beer-drinking hero guy.”


Noah Droddy finished second in 2:09:09 behind recent guest Marty Hehir at the Marathon Project. It was major because it was his first race in 14 months. He had to scratch from the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials due to injury and then he withdrew from the Michigan Pro Half Marathon in the fall due to a COVID scare that might have been a false positive. Droddy came into the race with a personal best of 2:11:42 so it was an improvement by two minutes and 32 seconds. In this episode, we take it all the way back to Droddy’s division 3 days, his choice to take a risk on himself and running post collegiately, crashing the 2016 track trials but ultimately putting respect on his name and proving himself in the marathon. You’re gonna want to stick around all the way to the end of this one because he’s also got the funniest drug testing story in the history of this podcast.

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Photos by Kevin Morris.

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Follow Noah on Instagram: @noah_droddy

Follow Noah on Twitter: @ibuilttheark

SHOW NOTES AND QUOTES

Witnessing the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

– “Those guys I consider friends and I want them to succeed but as a competitor, it was really hard seeing this race play out and where I might have been and where I could have been or what I could have done. After that 2:11, I felt like I was in that extended conversation as a guy who on his perfect day could contend for an Olympic team, which has never even been my goal because it’s was far out but it became a reality after Chicago last year. It went from that hopeful high to just this crushing low. It was really difficult to be there but I just had to make the most of it. I was happy for the guys who made the team and I was there to support Emma. I made the most of it but it’s always going to be tough.”

Training for The Marathon Project

– “I ran my first 100-mile week last year. I do feel relatively new to the higher marathon volume. This year specifically and in this build-up, I probably ran maybe eight weeks at 100 or over. That was a new level of consistency for the volume for me. I think that went a long way. The workouts that I did in this cycle a lot of them were 10-mile tempos at around 5:10 pace so slower than I would have done them in the past. But then maybe after those 10 miles at 5:10 pace, I’d do like 4 x mile added on into a 15-mile total run where I was running a little quicker in the low 4:45s or something. The body of work in its entirety is pretty good but I wasn’t doing anything that was really shocking with the exception of maybe a couple of good efforts. Everyone is posting workouts on Strava or Instagram and it was hard to see some athletes who I think could beat pretty reliably doing workouts that I wasn’t sure that I could do. Then you start being like, ‘Am I training hard enough?’ But, I felt undertrained for a lot of my career and still beaten guys like that. You just have to do the right training for you.”

– “In this buildup, by taking a slightly more conservative approach to my workouts, I was able to feel good more often and get consistent work in. I only missed one day in the build-up with a little tweak in my Achilles. I just felt good day to day. Whereas with my Chicago buildup in 2019, I was still in good shape but I was really trying to hammer workouts and day to day I was just kind of in shambles.”

– “I’ve always thought of the marathon as the big leagues of distance running. I think it’s awesome to run fast on the track and the 10K. It’s great to run a fast half marathon. Those are all special things. But for me, the stage of big city marathons…they’re nationally televised, the best fields from around the world, the prize purses are pretty huge. That’s really where you make your name – in the marathon. I always wanted to be a good marathoner. That’s the biggest stage in my mind and the biggest stage I wanted to succeed on.”

The Financial Implications of The Marathon Project

– “I obviously was hungry for an opportunity to get out there after 14 months of not racing. As soon as it came up and I heard about it (during the early Summer when there were some murmurings of it), I was like, ‘Yep. I’m there.’ Why would I pass up on as close to a sure thing as we’re going to hear about? Some athletes were hesitant because they were like, ‘Is it really going to get pulled off at a high level?’; ‘I’m not going to get an appearance fee so why would I go?’; ‘There’s no money in it.’ I was like, ‘I don’t care. I’m going to go run this race because it’s a race.’ Your point about contracts is well taken. My contract is up at the end of this year. We’re always looking to secure our jobs because this is my livelihood now. I have to be career-minded. I knew that I had run 2:11 but you’re always measured by what you have done lately. I hadn’t done anything lately. I missed the trials. It was a great opportunity for me and there was no downside to it as far as I was concerned.”

Why Invest in Noah Droddy?

– “I’m no. 9 all-time in the marathon at this point (for Americans). While I do think in terms of being marketable, I’m a relatable personality in the sport but also I want people to support me because of my performances. I’ve run 61 minutes for the half. I’ve run 2:09 for the marathon now. We always think that we can get better. I think my best years are my next couple of years probably. After Chicago, I said, ‘I’ve arrived in the arena of my marathon potential but I still feel like I’m sitting in the nosebleeds.’ Right? I’m not there yet. So now, I’m like, ‘Well fuck…I’m there now. I think.’ If I can do that again or even get a little better then that’s pretty good. I like to think I’ve proven myself as a competitor beyond just being like the puke guy or the beer-drinking hero guy.”

– “My goal was to run under 2:10. I thought that if I run under 2:10 then that’s a career achievement. How many guys have even done that? That would be special especially coming from where I came from with my background. 2:09? Sold. Now, I think going forward it’s about re-evaluating goals. I’ve only run fast courses really. I haven’t run a challenging course like New York or a course like Boston, which could be very challenging. I think my mindset now that I have that kind of sexy PB to my name – which obviously I want to go faster – but I also want to be competitive. I want to go to these races and have a day like Scott Fauble had in Boston where you’re in the lead pack at the end. I think that’s the next frontier for me as an athlete. It’s being more competitive in those international fields.”

Sizing up the field ahead of The Marathon Project

– “There were guys who had been running really well. A lot of guys ran 2:11 at the trials and really proved themselves too. Yeah, you’re going to talk about those guys who have done it more recently. In my mind, as a competitor, I look at the list and realize I’ve beaten every single one of these guys and they’ve also beaten me too but why not me? I was the eighth overall seed on the final list. I’ve beaten every single guy on that list at some point in my career. If I have a great day and some other guys have good to medium days, just logically I’m confident in my training and I should be there. I knew. I didn’t care if anybody else knew. I was just wanting to go maximize on an opportunity and have a day that I thought I deserved at that point.”

Deciding to go for 2:09

“I’ve already run 2:11. That’s a good time but I wasn’t interested in running 2:11 again. The only other choice was to run with that lead group at the 2:09 pace. All the other guys who ran 2:11 at the trials, that was such a hard day that they were totally justified at going out in 2:09. Again, those are guys who I see as my competitors and people I can run with so if they’re going to do it then I’m going to do it too. It’s that rising tide raises all boats thing. That’s a cool thing about American distance running right now. We are measuring ourselves against each other and the bar is going higher and higher. I saw a tweet from Kevin Hanson the other day about how in the year like 2000 the U.S. sent only one Olympian to the Games because he was the only guy under 2:15. I think we’re seeing the beginning of a renaissance in American distance running. I’m not going to intentionally leave myself out of that. I’m going to intentionally try to be in it too.”

Marty’s Big Move at 22 Miles

“I hardly remember the last 45 minutes. I saw Marty and his move was pretty gradual. I do know that Marty likes to make that kind of move and he kind of effortlessly pulls away. He’s done that to me before. I just remember that we ran fast like a 4:50 split and Marty already had a couple of seconds. I just had those internal thoughts of ‘I’m afraid to blow up now. I can run 4:55 so I’m going to keep running at 4:55s for a little longer.’ The consequence of that decision was that Marty gained maybe 10 or 15 seconds over a couple miles and then the gap stayed there until about the finish. I clawed back a couple of seconds here and there but once I made the decision to maintain that pace and Marty made the decision to get a little bit of a gap, I lost it there.”

The pain of the final miles

“The last two miles lasted an eternity. We say that in distance running when miles stretch on forever but I don’t think I have ever experienced miles that lasted as long as those two miles did. Especially on that looped course, you know where you’re going. You can see where you’re going but it felt like the mile markers would never come. I tried to split my watch so I could make sure that time was going by but I realized in hindsight that I accidentally paused my watch. I looked down and no time had gone by. I knew rationally that time must have gone by but my brain was so fried at that point that I was like, ‘What is happening? Where am I?’ I was hurting pretty bad at that point but I was so motivated to have a good day and not let all the work I had just done slip away by quitting in the last mile or two. I just didn’t want to fuck up what I had just spent two hours building if that makes sense. I was very motivated to get to the line. Obviously we’re all falling apart. We’re all in unprecedented territory of our own running. With a mile to go, I was getting super nauseous and at that point, it was just about finishing.”

The crowd effect

“There were enough people that were scattered around the course that were cheering. I would go by and they would cheer for me. I would listen to see if they were cheering again. I didn’t know who was behind me. I noticed that I couldn’t hear them cheering again. At that point, I knew that I had a good enough gap that I knew I wasn’t going to get caught. I can focus on catching Marty. I realized after a while that gap was not going to come back. In terms of fan support, I knew that my coach Richie, my agent Josh and Emma were at about 800 to go. I was really motivated to see them. I turn that last corner and they’re so fired up because they see us so often but they didn’t know where I would be coming around that last corner. They kind of surprised to see me. I look over and in the last 500m, Emma is yelling, “Fuck em up, Noah! Fuck em up, Noah!” She is running stride for stride with me. I just look over and either Emma is hauling right now or I am blowing up. I had no idea what was happening but it was really cool to run a few strides with Emma approaching the finish line. The crowd support was minimal obviously as it had to be but it was significant.”

“In my mind, I’m like, ‘Who am I fucking up right now?’ Marty has already fucked me up. I’m really just fucking myself up right now.’”

The puke

“To be honest, I’ve thrown up after every marathon I’ve done. Stop. Throw up. No pause. I actually threw up a little bit with three miles to go like over my shoulder but there was no camera on me then. I was definitely doing some hard swallows. Just your body being in motion for so long when you stop, it’s like a really big shock. I was feeling so sick. I would have loved to have gone off to the side and out of view from the cameras. I kind of imagined what if I was winning. I would’ve broken the tape and then just puked everywhere. It would have been the worst marketing finish line shot of all-time…or the best I guess.”


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