That Drew Windle took it easy for a week after qualifying for the IAAF World Championships and still ran the fifth-fastest 800 meters of his life might have told the New Albany High School graduate more about himself than the actual act of advancing.
"It definitely means I am fit," Windle said. "If you strike while the iron is hot, you will run well and run fast. ... I was kind of surprised, but it felt good to get the win. I'd had mostly easy runs for five days. You just can't predict how your body will respond."
Windle finished third in the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 25 in Sacramento, California, running a then-career-best 1 minute, 44.95 seconds to earn the final spot into the IAAF World Championships next month in London.
He then swept the 800 in two TrackTown Summer Series races earlier this month to help prepare for London, winning July 2 in Portland, Oregon, in 1:46.21 and four nights later in New York City in a personal-best 1:44.63. Windle, who has been a member of the Brooks Beasts running club since 2015 and competes for the Portland Pulse, was sixth with less than 200 meters to go in the latter race, but came from behind as he did in Sacramento.
Windle's first race in London will be Aug. 5. The semifinals are Aug. 6, with the finals following two days later.
This is the first national team appearance for Windle, a 2011 New Albany graduate who was an eight-time Division II indoor and outdoor national champion and 15-time All-American at Ashland University.
"Elite athletes are interesting in that you must be confident, bordering on cocky, and have some humility as well. He tells me 'I just want you to tell me what to do,' " Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey said. "Drew tries to make things fairly simple. He understands that nutrition and preventive health care add up at the end of the day.
"Overall, I think he's starting to surprise himself. Success is a simple equation sometimes."
Seven of Windle's relatives -- including his parents, Kenny, an insurance agent, and Karen, a teacher in New Albany schools -- and his girlfriend, former Saginaw Valley State runner Chantelle Fondren, will be in London thanks in part to a GoFundMe account that helped raise travel expenses.
Kenny and Karen attended almost all of Drew's collegiate meets, missing only one because of the birth of their grandson, C.J., in 2014. Now that Drew runs professionally, they tag-team on the events they attend.
"With him being 2,500 miles away now, we have to be selective," Kenny Windle said. "He's found a gear he didn't have before. He seems to have that edge again that he had so often at Ashland. That's huge. ...
"I think when he went to the national meet, a little part of him wondered if he belonged. (On June 25) he came from the back and closed in like he did at Ashland. He didn't win, but he did exactly what he needed to do, just like he's always done."
Along those lines, Drew Windle anticipates physical races in London -- a departure from his domestic experiences.
"European runners are a lot more physical than we are, but it will be good to get that experience," said Windle, who will turn 25 on Saturday, July 22. "Here, there are a lot of races where you feel like you'll be disqualified if you so much as bump another runner. I was in a pretty tactical 800 race my freshman year of college where we were all clipping each other's heels and what not the entire time. It's going to be pretty physical if I'm to run a 1:44 pace.
"My goal is to at least get through the first round. I'm probably going to have to go 1:44 just to make the final. If I get to the final, medaling is a steep goal, but that's what I am going for."