Our field began to pass. Bob Holtel, a track coach from Manhattan Beach, Calif., said, "Now I know there is injustice in the world."
He was gone before that registered. "No," I said to the cliffs, "this is the playing out of natural law."
Dick Smith, of Eugene, passed and said, "Think of next week, next month. Don't hurt yourself."
"I won't," I said. But I knew I would.
At the 10-mile aid station, Russell Wilbur, a large and tender Hawaiian who was one of the support staff, gave me a Coke. I told him it looked like I was going to have to walk. I had never done that in a race before.
"But," he said, "you are not going to quit."
I shook my head, and I walked.
It was like slowing down had been, a temporary relief. Soon the calf was in constant cramp, from the back of the knee to the Achilles tendon. It was hard to limp uphill. Most of the field had passed. The sun came out.
I timed myself between mileposts. Eighteen minutes. Three-and-a-third miles an hour. At that rate, I'd be done in about five hours. At 12 miles, Dr. Harry Hlavac, our podiatrist, who had passed earlier, was at an aid station. He'd rummaged through people's belongings, but had found only a roll of electrician's tape. I sat on a cooler and he iced my calf, dried it, wrapped it with that sticky, black friction tape and put an Ace bandage around it all. "Might help," he said a bit dubiously.
I went on. It was a little better. The tight wrap kept me from stretching to the point where it seized.