This photo from June 1980 came to me recently with a batch taken by photographer and Nike mogul Jeff Johnson through his agent Walt Chadwick. I had requested photos from Jeff for use in my recently published book “Tales of the Times”
I did not use this particular photo in the book a rare non action shot just sitting around at BC Track waiting for the start of the NE T&F Champs 10,000 Meter race.
I had joined Reebok at the tail end of 1979 but they had not supplied me with any gear other than shoes and not many of them either so I had made a deal with Bill Rodgers running gear and I am wearing one of his newly minted suits.
I had decided not to compete in the Olympic Trials after the boycott was announced and ran Boston and crashed and burned dropping out at 21 mile. After that I was adrift I ran twice a day usually but my heart was not in it and I needed to figure out some new goals.
I ran at the Bay to Breakers race in May in San Fran as the defending champ but I competed lackadaisically and finished third. I had moved into new digs a rustic little cabin on the North River in Norwell MA and this move along with time to let my disappointment in the way things had turned out go which I don’t think I completely did until after the OT Marathon Memorial Day weekend. I actually had this race on my calendar with a DNS beside it.
I was running a lot of races didn’t consider it unusual or extraordinary seemed most of us did that then and incorporated the minor ones into the overall training plan generally a loose plan. I learned a lot about myself and about racing and just generally enjoyed a good time with my racing fellows.
So, getting back to the photo and the race it was one that I felt I could win fairly handily with just me and some other locals in it but in racing anything can happen but I didn’t lack confidence even though my ego had taken a few blows.
Anyway Ed Sheehan someone I knew pretty well but was not necessarily friendly with took the lead and was running a respectable pace but after a few miles with only a small group of us still in contention I figured I would help with the pace setting chores and so I tried to go past Ed on the back straight and he surged and held me off. Okay then so a few laps later I try again same thing.
So now I’m getting pissed off but I sit back and wait for the right moment but while waiting Ed turns to me and says “Bob, you gonna help with the pace or what?” “Sure thing Ed you want help?”
I blew by him ran that next lap in 60 one after that 65 then eased it on in.
A group of us went for the usual warm down around the res after the race and I approached Ed and asked him why he didn’t let me have the lead earlier and he just gave me a sheepish grin so I punched him on the arm to let him know no hard feelings.
Ed had a great running career at BC High School, Harvard and then as a coach also with Harvard and with the BAA. Ed died tragically in 2005, while running at age 46.