On December 9th, I would try to achieve my 9th marathon win. After a few miles into the race, I knew that probably wasn't going to happen. The conditions were warm, 63degrees at the 8am start with high humidity (which would rise near 100% by the end of the race). The lead women's pack and I went out at sub 6 miles, (again, I knew within the first few miles that with the conditions it wasn't going to be a speedy day for me) so I dropped the pace and focused on taking care of myself. This would include taking salt tabs, a few GU gels, as well as drinking fluids at every aid station. I felt pretty weak, but with this being my 26th marathon, I knew anything could happen if I just stuck it out and maintained a steady pace. So I kept wrestling with the devil. Fighting back negative thoughts, I'd soon catch the female Russian in the elite race...Only when I approached her at the half way mark, she let out a big sigh and slowly stepped off to the side of the course.. defeated. A positive thing for myself, I pushed on recognizing the worst is yet to come, but with each step I was closer to that finish line. The course would proceed around White Rock Lake. With the humidity, I welcomed the 15mph head wind. The last 10k would make the day for me. I passed another elite female (this time from the Netherlands), She too sat in the grass defeated on the side of the road. Not having any idea what place I was in, and not focusing on my sluggish time, I shortened my stride and quickened the pace. My legs were dead and if I was going to catch that next place female, I'd have to do it with the "marathon shuffle!" To my surprise, I caught her with little effort and the turned the corner nearing the finish line to find yet another female elite (one of the Kenyans) struggling to even walk, let alone run. I zoomed by effortlessly. This was it. The last 800m! My thoughts were chaotic. I had no idea what place I was in, if the women I just passed were coming back up on me, but I was sure about hammering down and making them work for it if so! Crossing the finish line, I'd be greeted with a second place medal-only to fall over backwards from exhaustion and dizziness ( I must have been holding my breath that last mile!). I laughed at myself, accepted some help up and went on my way to marvel in my success. I didn' come close the the time I wanted, got my butt kicked by the 1st place female, but still felt I accomplished more than was expected from the start. After all, there were 3-4 other elite women in the race with personal bests much faster than mine that could not complete the course at all or at least faster than me that day! 23rd Overall, 2nd Female, 2:53:57 :( Huge THANK YOU to Scott and Vanessa Robinson, Mark and Darcy, Saucony, Body Armor, Icespike, The Simply Bar, GU ENERGY GELS.