By Lisa Hughes

MARBLEHEAD (CBS) – Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan says she “felt such a sense of validation” after winning her first major championship at the New York City Marathon in November.

“It took seven years, if not a lifetime, to achieve that one moment,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan was back in Boston Tuesday. She is the headliner on John Hancock’s elite American team for the 2018 Boston Marathon; arguably, the best American field assembled since Hancock became the race’s principal sponsor in 1986.

Flanagan and fellow elites Des Linden and Molly Huddle spent the morning with a group of local charity runners training for the Patriots Day race, getting in a run and offering up some training tips.

shalane2 Flanagan Says Americans Can Dream Bigger After Her NYC Marathon Win

Shalane Flanagan, Des Linden and Molly Huddle (WBZ-TV)

“I write down my goals,” she told the dozens of runners who came out to run with her on the Esplanade at 7 a.m. “They’re usually pretty aggressive,” she said. “At the top is win the damn thing.” The crowd laughed as they captured her wisdom on their cellphones.

A year ago, injury forced Shalane off the road and into the WBZ broadcast booth on Marathon Monday. She says she was devastated at the time, but realizes now that it was a blessing that was key to her New York victory.

flanagan Flanagan Says Americans Can Dream Bigger After Her NYC Marathon Win

Shalane Flanagan won the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

“The difference was having rest and that break, which I never would have taken had I not been forced,” she says.

She believes her breakthrough win has already had a ripple effect. “I think it allows Americans specifically, the ability to dream a little bit bigger now,” she says.

“It changes everything,” says 5-time Boston competitor Des Linden. “I run with her. I’ve beaten her. I can contend with her. So why can’t that be me?”

Linden finished second here in 2011, just two seconds behind Kenya’s Caroline Kilel.

shalane Flanagan Says Americans Can Dream Bigger After Her NYC Marathon Win

Shalane Flanagan (WBZ-TV)

Flanagan was second in her marathon debut in New York. Seven years later, she broke the tape at the finish line.

In this deeply talented American field headed to Boston in April, Shalane envisions a race to make the fans proud.

“If I could script it — two Americans coming down the final stretch,” she said. “How incredible would that be?”

Watch: “A setback is a setup for a comeback”

Retirement rumors swirled around Flanagan before and after her New York win.

“I thought, what better way to go out? If I won, how could I top this? After I let it all sink in, I thought ‘I’m not done.’ I’d regret it if I don’t come back to Boston; Boston is personal to me. I would have a lot of regret if I didn’t come back.”

So will she call it quits after Boston?

“There definitely is a presence in my mind of starting a family; that’s very important to me and my family,” she said. Flanagan and her husband are currently foster parents to two sisters in their first year of college.

“I don’t know if Boston will be my last or not,” she says. “But I’m going to go in with the intention that it could be. We’ll see.”

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