Michigan's Boston Marathon winner didn't realize she was winning

A Michigan woman is the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in more than 30 years and she said she didn't even realize she was winning the race.

Desiree Linden woke up Tuesday morning exhausted, exhilarated and a champion. A 34-year-old California native who lives in Michigan, Linden said she was so broken by the weather that she wanted to drop out after a couple of miles but instead stuck around in case she could help one of her fellow Americans. 

"I woke up exhausted like I had run a marathon but also just thrilled like I won a marathon," Linden said Tuesday. "This truly is the greatest marathon in the world. It's an honor to sit up here and be the champion "

Linden told reporters in Boston on Tuesday that she didn't think it was her day. It was so cold and wet she couldn't even squeeze her water bottle. 

She's run Boston before, many times, and lost by two seconds in 2011. She was afraid that would happen again but carried on for her teammates and even slowed down to wait for one of them while she used the bathroom an hour into the race.

When four-time Olympian and reigning New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan fell behind after needing a bathroom break, Linden let her draft so she could catch up to the pack. Later, she helped Molly Huddle reconnect with the group.

"And it turned out I was in third, and I thought, `Well, I probably shouldn't drop out," said Linden, who also earned $150,000. 
"I was taking it mile by mile out there. I wasn't even sure if I was going to finish. I honestly didn't think yesterday was my day," Linden said.  "I thought I might have missed my opportunity in 2011. I thought you can't get two chances to do this, it just doesn't happen."

The long distance Olympic runner with the Hansons-Brooks Running Team in Rochester Hills got her second chance, even she didn't fully believe it.

"I was at one point so delirious I thought there must be some medical emergency with me because I'm running so slow but there's all these cars around me, I can't be winning," Linden said.

But she was - and she did! She crossed the finish line at 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 54 seconds. 

"It was like just do the basics and focus mile by mile and see where you get and if it all blows up. This is still the quickest way to get home."

When she gets home, she will be greeted with open arms and plenty of applause, but for now she's revelling in her victory.