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"She came back after Montreal with her eyes opened," says Connolly. "I think she was hungry, and I played on that."
The next year, 1977, Ashford won the sprint "double double"—the 100 and the 200—in both the collegiate and the AAU championships, and from that point on she and Connolly aimed for Moscow in 1980.
After the 1978 season, Connolly and UCLA parted company, temporarily, she thought. But as it worked out, the separation was permanent. Pat was now free—when, that is, she wasn't seeing after the seven children she and Harold had accumulated in their various marriages—to concentrate on Ashford and the Moscow Olympics. She had observed that many track champions, not just sprinters, seemed to produce their best marks in the year that followed a year of exceptionally hard training. With that in mind, she persuaded Evelyn to drop out of school in January 1979 and undertake a doubled training load. "I told her, 'I don't know how you're going to perform this year, but you've got to take the risk so that 1980 will be easy, just as a matter of keeping fresh and sharp.' "
As it happened, the 1979 season turned out very well, culminating in the World Cup II victories over Marlies Göhr and Marita Koch, the East German world-record holders in the 100 (10.88) and 200 (21.71), respectively. The difference: eight months of mornings at UCLA's Drake Stadium track; afternoons over the hills and on the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice, running on the sand and in the water; and evenings in a variety of gyms and health clubs.
This summer the training methods were the same but the goal different. "I just want to run as fast as I can this year," said Ashford in July. "I know if I do that, I'll have the world record. I'm really thinking about the 100 because I know if my time comes down in the 100, the 200's automatically going to follow. Maybe the 400, too. I don't know. But I feel good now. My times this year have been consistently where I want them."
Ray and Evelyn were having lunch at a Hamburger Hamlet in Westwood Village before leaving for Europe and the meets preceding the World Cup. As Evelyn spoke, Ray, who was an art major at Cal State-L.A., was creating with the materials at hand. "This is a messy hamburger," he observed. "I keep trying to decorate it and it keeps moving."
"I don't think the world record will happen at the World Cup," Evelyn said. "Because of all the pressure. It will probably happen before. The World Cup isn't the ideal condition."
Ray looked up from his work on the hamburger. "Well, if it did happen at the World Cup, what would you do?"
"I'd be delirious," she said.
"I suppose you'd say, it wasn't supposed to happen here,' " he teased.