In the office Ryun is regarded as just another staffer. He is tall, lean and conservatively dressed—dark blue blazer, button-down shirt, striped tie. His horn-rim glasses, which he wears because he is nearsighted, give him a scholarly look. He is mild-mannered—Jim Ryun, mild-mannered photographer for a small metropolitan daily—apparently incapable of anger, at least outright anger. It sometimes seems he isn't aggressive enough for his trade.
There has been a three-car collision on Topeka Boulevard. Ryun is assigned to check it out. He grabs his camera case and rushes from the building. "Twenty-two in car," he reports. A package of Melba toast is on the seat of the car, a sign that Heather was there. Ryun reaches the scene in one minute and discovers three cars bumper to bumper. Not very photogenic. He gets out of the car anyway and looks it over, then climbs back in. "Twenty-two returning to office," he radios. Later, a leather-goods store is robbed, but the owner doesn't want any pictures taken. There is nothing to shoot anyway.
That afternoon Ryun finally gets a picture. The Journal has a feature called "Cook of the Week." Ryun is assigned to shoot a Mrs. Sharp, next week's winner. She is waiting in her apartment, dressed to the nines. Her kitchen is too small for pictures, she says, so she has set up a few empty dishes on the dining-room table. Nothing in them, mind you. She was told she didn't have to prepare her specialty, vegetable casserole, for the picture. Ryun asks Mrs. Sharp if she has anything that might serve as a centerpiece. Some flowers? she suggests. Ryun fetches them and places the vase in the center of the table. He attaches his strobe equipment and crouches. Mrs. Sharp smiles. Flash. Ryun rises and moves the vase of flowers one way, the casserole dish the other. He crouches again. Smile. Flash.
Ryun thanks Mrs. Sharp and packs his gear. She thanks him and asks, "Are you Jim Ryun the runner?" It generally comes sooner or later. Ryun says, yes, ma'am. "My husband has seen you jogging," she says. "We have lots of joggers in this apartment house and...."
Later Ryun explains that he never tells subjects who he is. "They tend to get all gooey," he says. When someone asks who's calling, he tells them the Capital-Journal. But most people find out anyway. He can be photographing a Topeka executive and suddenly there are a couple of secretaries standing in the doorway, seeking an introduction and, well, acting all gooey. If this pains Ryun, he doesn't show it. He merely looks a trifle embarrassed.
The Ryun apartment is a clutter of equipment, baby and sports. Heather's swing hangs from the ceiling. Nearby is a teeter-totter. Behind it, on the floor and almost hidden in a corner, is the Sullivan Award. The silver medal from Mexico lies on an old steamer trunk. Track shoes are scattered about. One pair belongs to Anne, and surely the Ryuns must set a family record for difference in shoe sizes. He is 11½, she 3½.
By the front door is a large basket containing tennis rackets and balls, a basketball, several baseball gloves and two paddle-ball rackets. Yes, he is very much interested in all sports. "I watch the Monday-night football, the Sunday football—as much as I can," he says. "The guys in the office keep trying to get me out for the touch football team. I'd like to, but it's a rough game and the chance of injury...."
On a wall in the alcove is a painting of Ryun running the 3:51.1. The artist is Gene McClain. "He was a good miler, a 4:05 miter," Ryun says; then, a moment later, adds, "Well, a fair miler." It's not a putdown, merely a correction.
It is evening at the Town Club on the 17th and top floor of Topeka's First National Bank Building. The Ryuns are having dinner out. Jim has on a dark gray suit with a vest. "Is a daiquiri O.K. to order before dinner?" he asks. A waitress with a mountain of silver hair brings one for Jim and one for Anne.
Ryun won't discuss why he has resumed training. If he did, it would create pressure. "I don't want to commit myself to anything," he says. But besides his training schedule there are signs that he is serious. On the day he started running again, Ryun flew to Austin, Texas to see Jack Daniels, the assistant track coach at the University of Texas and a research physiologist. There Ryun underwent tests involving skin folds to determine how much body fat he had, and he breathed into bags to gauge his oxygen debt. Daniels had tested Ryun before, so he was able to compare his condition. He has since tested Ryun in Kansas, and indications are that he has regained most of his stamina.