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After we crossed the line, we sank down, hands on knees. We chose the same moment to look up at each other. His eyes were so unguarded it seemed I could see his soul. And surely he mine. "I promised myself I couldn't have any beer if I didn't at least keep up with you at the end," he said.
"God, you're getting serious," I said.
The next day was our second passage around rugged Kaena Point. I felt so heavy-legged and weary that the object became not to break an ankle. He had 100 yards when we regained the pavement. I caught him quickly. I sensed his weakness and tried to muscle away in the four miles remaining. I had a cramp in my back from waving my arms to keep my balance among the rocks, but I tried as hard as I could. He refused to crack. I won, but only by 24 seconds. He still led by 2½ minutes overall.
The first thing he said afterward was, "That 22 miles tomorrow is going to be a son of a bitch." I took that to mean he intended to make it so. It would be our last run on Oahu. I told myself I would take anything he had to give, because then I had two days to at least partially heal. I needed them. My right thigh burned at the touch, even of ice. My left hip seemed to have some sand or broken glass in it. Oddly, I had no blisters.
Knowing what was to come, and having made some peace with it, McCormack and I had lunch together. He revealed his strategy: "When Kenny's down, you got to kick him in the side."
I warmed up for 10 minutes the next morning. The day seemed to promise heat, though Scaff said it would be wet. I had decided that if, as usual, McCormack wished to start with a couple of seven-minute miles, I would start with sixes and make him choose between his normal pattern and giving me a two-minute lead.
I got a pretty good rhythm going, that sense of everything meshing, and somehow ignored the traffic on the hateful Farrington Highway. At the 3½-mile aid station, McCormack was within 50 yards. At seven he was still there. I got a good handful of ice under my hat and kept on. Cane smoke hung in the air, and the sun began to tell. I was on 5:40 pace by now and running emotionally. I was using my special, prideful past. I was an Oregon runner. I knew what it was to cast off all fears and blaze the last part of a race or workout as if it were the last you'd ever run.
I looked back at 11 miles and couldn't see him. I had near spasms in my back. But this was the chance I'd looked for, to really get some time ahead. I worked the hills and rolling road through the cane, fought the traffic into Ewa Beach and had the energy to sprint the last 200 yards.
I was weighed and had lost eight pounds, going from 151 to 143 in the two hours and 13 minutes, not an exceptional volume. But I didn't recover very quickly. I felt pretty rocky, and I kept feeling it. Dressendorfer, a medical physiologist, had me drink Coke, water and beer, and then pointed me toward a canebrake to give him a urine specimen.
I have a vivid memory of pushing into the scratchy cane. The stalks were an inch thick and purple, and the russet earth was muddy, and the urine filling the plastic cup was heart-blood red.