For two years, as the 5'6" Groos struggled to find the correct dosage of artificial thyroxine, her weight fluctuated drastically, from 115 to as much as 145. She raced too often and on too little training. A friend suggested she contact Al Schmidt, the cross-country coach at Florida State. He agreed to work with her, and in January she moved from her hometown of Nashville to Tallahassee. Schmidt doubled Groos's mileage, to 80 miles a week. Each week she did a 20-mile run over hills, pushing the last few miles. Once she ran the final mile in 5:09. "I have not missed a day," she said on Sunday. "As I ran the final miles today, I visualized myself out on my 20-mile loop. I've had training runs that put me further under than this race."
Groos used a 5:21 downhill mile to build her lead to eight seconds at the 24-mile mark. She continued to pull away over the final 2.2 miles and hit the tape in 2:29:50 to become the first U.S. woman to break 2:30 since Samuelson ran 2:21:21 in Chicago in 1985. Ditz held off O'Brien, finishing four seconds ahead of her in 2:30:14. All three had surpassed Samuelson's winning time of 2:31:04 at the '84 trials. Weidenbach came in fourth with a time of 2:31:06.
As the three Olympic marathoners embraced, it was hard not to be hopeful about their prospects in Seoul. While none of them is likely to match Samuelson's gold from 1984, a silver or bronze is possible. But before Sunday's race, Ditz, the veteran, said, "We tend to look to the past for our heroes, not forward to this year's heroes or the next's. There's going to be some wonderful story that comes out of this race."