1981: Rehab, Caracas, Eugene, Sacramento, Beijing, Houston, NYC

I began the year hobbling around on my strained/torn adductor through snow drifts on icy cold roads. I balanced this with swimming and strengthening exercises with weights and in the pool. One physiotherapist I visited, and I visited several , gave me a pair of neoprene trunks which I wore for support. Most of the advice I got from the medical community I felt was bogus so I devised a routine of my own to rehabilitate my injury.

At the end of 1980 I was number seven on the all-time performer list for American Marathoners and twenty four years of age. Someone with potential. When I was injured what were my options? Would my governing body (TAC-USA) provide assistance or my shoe company sponsor? No. In fact my sponsor threatened not to honor my contract because of my lack of performance. I had no medical insurance and so had to pay out of pocket for this large expense. What was a grasshopper to do? Stay focused and keep running. I was determined it wasn’t over for me yet.

Shortly after arriving home from a run one January morning I received an invitation to run in a 21k road race in San Cristobal, Venezuela. I was in no way ready to race but the race director seemed eager to have me and I was eager to lose the snow drifts so I decided to go as a “training trip” with a two week stay in Miami before coming home. The race was a semi- disaster as I struggled to a 29th place finish averaging around 5:20 per mile. I also got the inevitable stomach bug and struggled through my training runs the following week in Miami, but I did them eager not to miss any runs.

The two weeks in Florida went pretty well and I was beginning to get stronger. My immediate goal was the Penn. Relays 10k where I hoped to qualify for Track Nationals, which I did in 28:58 the same time I had run there two years before. This solidified my goals for running a track season with a race in Boston followed by two in Eugene and one at Berkley Ca. before the National in Sacramento. The trip out west was a tough one. Allergies bothered me in Eugene and the heat in Sacramento was overpowering, 100 degrees! Mostly though it was a lack of conditioning, I needed to get back to the consistent miles again.

I was planning a fall marathon and I had decided to run at the first Beijing Marathon. One element of being a top marathon runner that I enjoyed and an element which, when I started ,was all we had to look forward to, were the trips. I was intrigued. My sponsor however was less than thrilled and demanded I run NYC. That sealed it for me, I would run Beijing. Always remember who marathon athlete, who marathon athlete sponsor blowhards.

An account of this race, which presents an accurate picture of the experience, can be found in the Ken Kesey novel Demon Box. Also, with author’s son’s permission, see Running magazine’s article, “Running Into the Great Wall”from 1982 issue. I ran like a dog and got passed 100m from the finish, beat out for tenth place and one of the cloisonne vases awarded to the top ten. I plan to write a “Remembrance” of this trip. 

On returning home I decide to give NYC marathon in a month’s time a go. It was risky but the year so far had been a mixed bag and so I thought I’d take a chance. My sponsor was pressing me as well. Two weeks after Beijing I won the National 20k Road Race in Houston Texas over what proved to be a short course. I then finished off the year with a 22nd place at NYC in 2:15:33. I was feeling a bit down after that but amazingly I got a call from a new potential sponsor and an invitation to compete in February in Japan! Get me back in the saddle! Bring on 1982.