I had regained my will to live, but the will to run is a more delicate flower. In hopes of nourishing it, I bought a bottle of Japanese champagne with dinner. It was sweet, but without the fruity quality of good sweet wines.
"Alcoholic cream soda," said Frank.
"It's better than their red wine," put in Farrington. "That tastes like kerosene."
Soon we were telling stories. I talked about red-necks and bleeding feet in the Olympic marathon ("Gawd damn you, git awn up there where a American ought to be!").
Jeff Julian, the fourth New Zealander and a banker, told a Ron Hill story.
"Ron went to the Munich pre-Olympic marathon in September." said Julian, "but he didn't enter. He simply ran over the course the morning of the race. Then, after Usami won. Hill came up and told him—I imagine a finger wagging—'You second next year in Olympics. Second. Me first.' "
Robinson and I frowned. "Ronnie should know better." I said. "Winning is never so sweet that losing can't be sourer if you get your hopes up like that."
"Right." said Robinson. "I was just thinking it's nice they give 10 trophies here. I'll be perfectly happy to take home any of those at all."
The day before the race we tried out our endurance in the opening ceremonies. In a ballroom before banks of flowers and the flags of the represented nations, we heard from the mayor of Fukuoka, the Japanese minister of education, the president of the Japanese Amateur Athletic Federation and the president of Asahi Shimbun. Frank was edgy.
"I have the feeling I got here a day early," he whispered. "I'm ready right now. My stomach is starting to churn."