good," he says.
rumbling inside, I plow on as twigs and bones snap underfoot. My right foot is
giving out now. A big fat cramp is building. Try picking up...Oh Jesus does
that hurt...Forget it, we'll just back away a little now...Maybe just ease off
and walk...I can't, there's John waiting for me. I'll show him I can run to
where he is.
Two miles to go
to Ted Corbitt's 24-hour record. Ted is a friend. The first 24-hour I ever read
about was his 134 miles, 782 yards in 1973 in England. I have heard him talk
about it. I can't help it now that I am at 132� miles, but I am walking. I keep
promising myself I will run to it, but I keep putting it off. Perhaps I cannot.
Then with two laps to go, I feel the only honorable way to pay homage to Ted's
effort is to feel it as deeply as I can, so I ram myself into a trot. This
version of running could be easily outwalked by a fast walker, but I guess I
realize there is nothing left to be ashamed of, nothing left to have false
pride about. It is the best I can do. It gets a little better, actually, as I
go. Phew, one lap over. Good God, a whole other one now. I will break it into
sections. Run this curve. Fine. Now down the straight. I keep laying mental
track, not too much, don't overload the system, and I go through where I
imagine the mark is. If there were time to rest and take it in, I would cry.
Maybe I do in a half-strangled kind of way. So I have finally gotten somewhere.
I don't know entirely why this is where it feels like I have done something,
but it is. Out here the air is very thin. Anyone else who's climbed up to this
vicinity knows what it means to wheeze for oxygen. They're pals.
John says, after he sees me hug a few people celebrating this record. "Now
keep that up. Don't let your emotion make you lose sight of your work. You must
keep moving. Walk if you must and then run. Come on."
I do try for a
while, but I feel I can do little more than try not to crumble too quickly.
After a conference among my friends, Joe is appointed to tell me that I am
losing second place and slipping down into third. Then fourth. It hardly
surprises me. Peddie and I have been jabbering at each other a little bit about
being so close. I hear a coach or a friend yelling at Peddie, "Pick it up,
will you. The American's just four laps ahead of you."
I feel the
equivalent of a grim smile. It's odd being "the American," being
someone anyone would bother to chase. I find I simply don't care. Now I want to
get to the mark of 136 miles, 716 yards, established by Don Choi of the U.S. in
1978, and I grind along at a fairly brisk walk.
I reach Choi's
mark around 23 hours. It is the last briar on the footpath. Park Barner's
American record is still 24 miles or so beyond where I am likely to get.
Impossibly far off. Now I am No. 2 American on the alltime list. I am exhausted
finally, truly and profoundly, and although I feel satisfaction, it is dim
compared to my present struggle.
push on," John warns me. "Can't you run a little bit now?"