1983: Know Thyself

1982 had been a very successful year and had ended on a high note with a 9th place finish in the National Cross Country and a 5th place finish, six days later at Fukuoka. I had planned a week of R&R in Hawaii after the marathon but had trouble changing my airline ticket without being severely penalized. I decided to skip that and head back to New York. I arrived in NYC exhausted and decided to spend the night in a hotel by the airport, before heading on to Boston. I slept for 16 hours hardly awakening at all. My body was trying to tell me something unfortunately I was not listening attentively.

I jumped back into training & racing running a poor 3k at the Boston College Christmas Relays , in 8:41! after going through the mile in 4:25. I continued to train hard in January 83 and ran a 4:17 mile leg on a relay feeling sluggish and tired. On Jan. 30 I attempted a 10k road race in Phoenix which was a disaster. I hit the mile in 4:47 and felt overcome with fatigue and dropped out. The next day I had a blood test but the results showed nothing abnormal. Maybe a virus? The next day I ran 10 & 6 pushing on. I needed a break but was not willing to take one. The thing that makes a successful athlete is also the thing that breaks the successful athlete. You have to know “when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

In March I spent two weeks in Florida preparing for Boston. I had some good runs but I was not quite building the momentum I would like to. I felt flat and I was having assorted aches and pains. At Boston my calves began to cramp in the first downhill mile and I struggled the entire way finishing 95th just ahead of Joan Benoit.

I was hoping that after a summer of base building and preliminary races, including Falmouth where I ran well and finished 10th, that I would be ready for the Chicago marathon in mid October. My confidence was shaken throughout the year by fatigue and a lower back injury which could severely hamper my stride. My preparations went fairly well but I bombed in Chi running 2:25 after hitting the half right on my target pace of 1:05:30. My back tightened and my stride shortened and that was all she wrote. I was now faced with the task of running another marathon in order to qualify for the 84 Marathon Trial. I had been ranked among the top ten Americans in three of the last four years, but that did not matter. Everyone must qualify in the qualifying period, even world record holders. How stupid.

I was working part time for an athletic shoe company which was putting a massive promotions effort into the 84 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I was one of the companies top athletes and I had not yet qualified for the trials, my confidence was a bit shaken. It was not qualifying that I was worried about, it was the fact that I wanted to contend for the Olympic Team. Running the trial meant nothing to me if I could not be competitive. So, 83 was a mixed bag, maybe I was “washed up” only time would tell.