Drew Windle hit the highs and the lows in Birmingham. The former Ashland 800 runner surprised many by producing the fastest close (24.9) in the 4-lapper and grabbing the silver at 1:47.99.
But he also had to endure some 90 minutes of not knowing whether his initial DQ would stand.
“I was kind of confused,” he admits. “I was trying to figure out how I was the person being disqualified. I was the person getting grabbed and punched and elbowed throughout the entire race because I had the worst positioning.
“I experienced all the negative emotions possible in 90 minutes and when I finally heard [that the USATF appeal succeeded], I was exhausted from so many changes in emotions. I was just relieved.
“I did get to do my lap around the track with the flag, so I had that moment.
“The way I look at it is there are people who get their medals years later from people who were caught doping and they missed out on the entire experience.”
Windle, an unheralded 1:51.94 performer as an Ohio prep, had always wanted to be a performer on the world stage, but admits, “I knew I didn’t quite have the credentials early on in my career at Ashland.”
But then he ran an indoor 1:46.52 on an oversized 300m track as a junior.
“My coach and I recognized in that moment what that meant for me moving forward. It was also a time in the NCAA when you didn’t have to run 1:43 to get noticed,” he says with a laugh.
After college he moved to Seattle to train with Danny Mackey and the Brooks Beasts. The workouts are more intense; there’s more speed.
He reflects, “At Ashland, coach [Trent Mack] and I both knew that I would win Div. II national titles [6 in/out] if I just was healthy at the starting line, so we always made sure we didn’t push the envelope too far.
“Now that I’m elevated to a different level, I am definitely pushing the envelope in workouts with the Beasts.
“The other part of it is just consistency. My first year as a pro I think I missed 25 days due to injuries. Last year I missed 8 days of training. And this year so far I’ve had zero missed days—knock on wood.
“I’m figuring out how to time things and when to push the envelope and when to back off a little bit.”
The results have come steadily. In ’16, his first pro season, he hit 1:45.65 but failed to make the finals at the Olympic Trials. Last year, he ran 3rd at USATF, PRed at 1:44.63, and made the World Championships semis in London.
Heading outdoors this year, he says, “I want to run real fast. I do want to get into the 1:43s this year.
“And despite there not being a major outdoor championship, I still really want to do well in the outdoor USAs. Top 3 would be great but I definitely plan on being in contention with 150 to go, and if that’s the case, I like my chances.”
Then there’s the distant future. “Last year at altitude camp, Danny and I were talking about moving up to the 1500. And then I end up 3rd at USA’s and that changed the trajectory a little bit.”
He has run only a handful of 1500s in his life, claiming a PR of 3:44.46 from his senior year.
“I’m wanting to get into a good 1500 and trying to run under 3:40, and then working down into the mid-3:30s or possibly faster,” he says.
“I definitely want to stick with the 8 through ‘20 but maybe after that we’ll reevaluate and see if I can do what I think I can do at 1500.”