When Shibuya had gone, I slept. In a dream I found myself at the start of the Olympic 5,000-meter final. I had trained in secret for years, preparing for this single race. I tore through the first mile in four minutes even, pulling to a huge lead. In the second mile, despite the pain, I surged harder, responding to the astounded, howling crowd, and ran it in 3:58. Over the last few laps, when I should have dropped, I began to sprint, lapping the earth's best runners, lowering the three-mile world record by a minute. In the stretch, amid the torture of the effort and the screams of the multitude, I delivered the limit of my energy and all my body's chemical bonds burst. Only a wisp of vapor crossed the finish line, leaving my nylon shirt folded across the tape.
When I awoke, my fever was gone.
We had developed a cocoa ritual. Before bed the English-speaking runners gathered in a coffee shop off the lobby to choke down a few more carbohydrates. (The traditional prerace steak has been discredited. Recent marathon records have been set on cream puffs and pecan pie.)
Feeling recovered, I put in an appearance. Farrington was at the window.
"I hope there are a lot of little Japanese down on their knees somewhere praying for the weather," he said.
"Surely you don't have to worry about a fast time?" John was the year's second-fastest runner with 2:12:14.
"It would help my chances for Olympic selection. Our committee has decided to send only 12 men to Munich in track and field. There are 21 events. Once they are selected, no one else can go."
"What if a runner was the best you had in an event, but wasn't selected and offered to pay his own way?"
"The committee would say no. It wouldn't be fair to other unselected athletes who couldn't afford it."
"What if everybody could afford it?"