Lauren Fleshman takes 26.2 in stride

The marathon debut of American Lauren Fleshman proved to be just as painful as she'd heard and just as fun as she'd imagined. The Eugene, Ore., resident and former Stanford University standout upped the ante when she jumped from her 5,000-meter specialty to the marathon. "I didn't mind it," the 16th-place finisher said after the race.

Courtesy of Rachel Wallack

Lauren Fleshman relaxes postrace.

Fleshman was the second American woman to cross the finish line, following Molly Pritz, who finished 12th. As American marathoner and ING New York City Marathon 2009 champion Meb Keflezighi put Fleshman's finisher medal around her neck, she relished the moment: "It's not every day you get a medal from a medalist."

espnW: This was not an easy debut marathon. Did you still have fun?

Lauren Fleshman: Wow, it was so fun. It was also so hard. The last six miles were especially hard. I promised myself I'd smile no matter what. I think I even squeezed one [smile] out in Central Park. It was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done.

espnW: Did you hit the dreaded "wall"?

LF: Definitely, big-time! You never get that feeling in a 5,000. I've never experienced anything like that in my life.

espnW: How do you feel about the marathon distance overall?

LF: I felt good after the first water stop until 20 -- that's when my body started hating itself. The conversation with my body started then. But I didn't mind it [the marathon] in general.

espnW: I have to ask, how was your stomach? I know you worried about it before the race.

LF: I went [to the bathroom] four times before the start; Paula [Radcliffe] was right that nerves take care of that. I had cramps for the first three miles. I thought they were supposed to come on later. But once I had my first water stop, my stomach settled down.

espnW: Are you proud of your performance today?

LF: I'll definitely be geeking out with this thing on [points to her medal] all day long!

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