I've had to wait almost 100 episodes to get a chance to write a second of Charlie's episodes. Oh, well; now I get the chance: here I go. It's Hal writing, and what else would Charlie let me write about but running?
My life had settled into a delightful routine: On the physical education faculty at the university I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the required freshman course. Since no one else in the department liked teaching that course, I'd quickly been given overall responsibility for course planning and supervision of the other instructors. The university was glad to consider my work coaching high school cross-country to be a legitimate use of my time-it was, in fact, my teaching laboratory with high school students and very useful for me. Home life with Sue and the boys was wonderful. I'd had no idea of the joy I'd get watching Junior and Bud grow up. They were wonderful boys and such fun to be with. And with all of that, I had the unbelievable good fortune to be part of the Gang, surrounded in Grand Forks by their love and support.
My running had become a similar routine. After the wild ride of three Olympics (a first and two seconds) and five Boston Marathons (9th, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 1st again) I stopped running in the big races. I ran a few regional marathons each year and ran the marathon distance fairly frequently on the two courses that I'd mapped out in Grand Forks. The running I really enjoyed was my daily morning run with some of my students and friends, and my afternoon run at a slower pace so that Junior could join us. Junior was in fifth grade now, and was eager to run with us in the morning, but he was not yet quite able to keep up. Bud had little interest in running, saying that he didn't want to spend that much time away from his computer. Bud wasn't a chip off the old block, but was a joy in his own way. Clearly he was going to make the big bucks-not his dad or his brother!
On January 5, 1987, I turned 40 years old. There's something special about a decade birthday. Of course, your friends and family are more likely to make a big deal of it, and mine did. But deep inside it tickles something in the brain. "My God, I'm forty." You wonder what that means. For starters, it means that your life is about half over. Is the best yet to come? I had two thoughts on that: First, the wonderful events of my first forty years, Camp White Elk, the Olympics, Boston, Sue, two children, certainly led me to believe that the best years were behind me. On the other hand, ahead of me was the anticipated joy of watching my two sons grow into men, and, hopefully, achieve more than I had. And who knew about grandchildren? I felt that watching my children and grandchildren might be a greater joy than living through my own accomplishments had been. Only time would tell.
The big zero on the end of my age also made me introspective: Was I the man I once was? Was I the runner I once was? My times were still very good, but not those of my Olympic races. But I wasn't pushing myself like I did then. Could I?
I found myself pushing a little harder on our morning runs. Running the marathon distance more often. Dreaming of the Olympics in Seoul. I knew that the young guys didn't have the same advantage in the marathon that they did in shorter, faster races. Young guys that I couldn't touch in a sprint, or even a two-miler, couldn't hold up against me (and many of the other older guys) much past the 17 mile mark-which's where I still put on my final burst of speed. I couldn't deny it; I was beginning to get Olympic fever. After retiring three Olympics back, I was beginning to dream of running in another Olympics! Bah, just an old man's fantasy.
I admitted it out loud only to Sue, and-bless her-she did nothing but encourage me. At that time, as before, and as continues today, I ran every morning. Then, as often continues today, I was nearly always accompanied by a group of six to ten, usually including two or three of my students from the track or cross country team. Jody was running with us then, and I think it was he that opened a conversation one morning with, "Hal, you're running us harder these days. Why the big push?"
I wasn't ready to admit to Olympic fever, and I really hadn't realized that I was pushing myself-and thus the boys who ran with me-harder. I responded, "I guess maybe I am, but I didn't realize it. What the heck, it'll do you good."
Jody said, "Look at Jimmy back there, he can hardly keep up; you're going to kill him."
"I don't think so, but you're right, I am pushing a little too hard. Jody, you set the pace this morning."
That evening I told Sue about the conversation. Her response was, "Hal, you're going to have to admit to the boys what you're up to, and limit the runners with you to those that can handle your training pace. Can Jody?"
"Oh, God. Jody can accomplish anything he puts his mind to."
"An Olympic marathon?"
"He's a basketball player. He just plays at running."
"He's doing more than playing if he keeps up with your training pace. He's run marathons with you, hasn't he?"
"A few times. It's a little longer than he likes to run, but he doesn't like turning down my invitations. So I don't invite him very often. Of course, he always knows he can invite himself."
"How old is he?"
"He's a junior, so I guess he's seventeen."
"He won't make the Olympics, but take him to some regional marathons this year and to Boston next spring."
"I wasn't going to Boston this or next spring. I haven't been to Boston in quite a while."
"Take Jody to Boston. You don't have to run with him, but you should. Can you win Boston?"
"I doubt it. But I should be one of the leaders."
"Can Jody win Boston next year?"
"I don't think Jody can beat me for several more years, and that's assuming that he trains for it. But he's a basketball player. He'll almost certainly get a basketball scholarship to a good school. They aren't going to want him becoming a marathoner."
"Sometimes they have to take what they can get."
"Are you suggesting that I talk seriously to Jody about becoming a marathoner as well as a basketball player?"
"Maybe, I'm not sure."
"Why are you thinking of him being a runner?"
"Because I think running is better than basketball."
"Not much money in running. There can be a lot in basketball."
"I wouldn't trade our lives for all the money a pro ball player makes."
"But you can't speak for Jody."
"Neither can you. Talk to him."
I did, the next morning when we ran together. Without mentioning the Olympics, I told my little group of runners that for the next little while I needed to push my training a little. I suggested that we divide into two groups. As I'd hoped, Jody was the only runner who thought he could keep up a faster pace. The rest of the group stayed together but gradually fell behind. They knew our route well, and I'd told them where to cut the circle short and thus get ahead of Jody and me. That way we'd finish pretty much together.
It's hard talking while you run, especially if you're pushing yourself. I wasn't pushing myself too much, but for Jody the faster pace was a little rugged. I did most of the talking, and generally tried to give him Yes-or-No questions.
"Jody, you're a pretty good runner. Have you considered going out for cross-country?"
"I did in ninth grade, but now it cuts into basketball."
"They're in different seasons. Does that mean that you practice basketball all year round?"
"Since I decided to make a full commitment to it, yes."
"At home or at school?"
"At the 'Y'."
"Are you on a team there?"
"So you run in the morning with me mainly to keep in shape for basketball?"
"Are there other reasons?"
"I like being with you."
"That's quite a compliment. Is there more?"
"I think I like running too."
"As much as basketball?"
"You're being honest with an old runner and running coach."
"And a good friend, as well."
"Thank, Jody. I consider you a good friend, too. Sue thinks you might like to run marathons."
"I do run them-with you."
"She's talking about Boston."
"Wow. Am I good enough?"
"You could be. How hard do you want to try?"
"I don't know."
"Tim would say that if you don't know then the commitment isn't there."
"Tim isn't always right."
"True. And Tim spent a lot of time in high school thinking about whether he could manage two sports. The conventional wisdom was that he'd fail in both if he pushed both. He had to choose one."
"But he didn't?"
"I need to think."
We ran on in silence for about a mile. Then Jody continued, "You're thinking of running in Seoul, aren't you?"
He had me dead to rights. "Yeah."
"You'll make it, won't you?'
"I wish I had your confidence in me."
"Nuts. Tell me straight."
"Yeah. I think I can qualify. But I'm really not sure that I can get a medal."
"Slowing up in your old age?"
"That, and the competition is speeding up. My practice regimen isn't what it used to be."
"That's because you run with your students and friends, isn't it?"
"And because it's easy to get lazy as you get older."
"Well, it's your style to speed up at the end. We're getting to the end of today's run. Let's push it in."
I was amazed to find that he had a real reserve of energy. He took off like a sprinter. I could catch him, and I did, but he gave me a run for my money. It was clear to me that if he wanted to run in Boston he could, and he'd do well. This morning's little ten mile run had hardly fazed him.
The next morning Jody arrived at my door about fifteen minutes early for the morning run. He asked if he could come in and talk. We sat at the breakfast table with Sue and had juice and toast. I let Jody start the conversation:
"I thought all day yesterday. It kept me awake at night until I made up my mind. Then I slept like a baby. This morning when the alarm got me up I knew I'd made the right decision. If it were wrong, I would've tossed all night-unable to sleep."
"What's the big decision?"
"About running, what do you think?"
"I guessed; I wasn't sure."
"But what I have to say involves both of us."
"I want to try to be a runner, a marathoner. I don't think it'll hurt my basketball; it might even help."
"You were talking about both of us."
"Yeah. I think you want to get your fourth medal in Seoul-the one you were cheated out of by the Moscow boycott."
"I wasn't cheated by the boycott. I announced my retirement in Montreal."
"Have you had regrets about retiring then?"
"No, the boycott made it the right decision."
"The boycott's behind us. So's Los Angeles. Korea's ahead."
"Come on, Hal. Here's the deal. If you'll be honest with me, and with the world, I will be too. None of this "maybe" shit. We work together. We work like Hell. We run marathons in the Midwest this year and next year in Boston. We run in the Olympic trials. You make it. Maybe I do. We're up front with everyone about what we're doing. We do it together. You can run me like Hell, but I'm good enough that you can't run me without pushing yourself. It's what we both need. Deal?"
The kid was a junior in high school. I was college professor and high school track coach. He was 17. I was 40. If you'd been listening to that conversation who would you have said was the more mature? I'd give the call to Jody! He reminded me of Tim so many years ago. And here he was, a serious two sport athlete-or willing to be if I would own up to my own ambitions and come along with him. It made me feel like a teenager again. And there's no better feeling on earth (give or take lying in bed with the person you love). I bit.
"Jody. You have a deal. We'll sit down with Jim-Coach Anderson-and Tim this afternoon. I'll set it up. See Coach Anderson after school, and assuming that Tim's available you can ride over to campus with him. We'll plan to meet in Tim's office."
"The Director of Athletics at the high school is 'Coach Anderson.' The President of the University of North Dakota is 'Tim.' What gives?"
"Tim wants to be Tim. You should use last names with your high school teachers."
"I call you Hal."
"I'm not your teacher, nor your coach. You go to Central High and I coach at Red River. But we have a special relationship. And it's going to get more special. You can continue to call me Hal."
"All the boys you run with call you Hal."
"Yes, but the track team calls me Coach Bruder. Those that are on the team and run in the morning learn to call me the right name for the right situation; they get it wrong sometimes-no big deal. Some coaches use first names, as in Coach Hal. I've never liked that. My friends call me Hal, and that includes my young friends. But students, and team members, call me Coach Bruder. Some say Mr. Bruder, and that's fine."
"I can understand that. It's Tim and Charlie that are out of step."
"The world's out of step with them. I don't think, however, that the world's ready to embrace not having last names."
"Probably not. Let's run."
We did. I pushed him; he pushed back. He gave me a run for my money. We had to test him at a full marathon distance, soon."
The meeting that afternoon with Jim (Coach Anderson) and Tim was interesting. Tim listened to Jody talk about trying to become a two sport athlete and just smiled. When Jody was finished Tim said, "Jody, for this decision you get a great big hug." He got up, walked over to Jody, signaling him to stay seated. Jody had grown since ninth grade and now was well over a foot taller than Tim, but only when standing. Tim took advantage of his position, leaned over, and grabbed Jody in a big hug around his neck. Jody hugged back. Tim was deceptively strong, but so was Jody. You didn't want to be a mosquito on one of their chests as they hugged.
Tim said, "OK, why are you here? You don't need my permission to be a two sport athlete."
I said, "I suggested it. I knew you'd been talking to Jody from the beginning and would like to know what he was up to."
Tim said, "But there's more, right?"
"Of course. No one's more inspiring to a dedicated athlete than you, Tim. Jody's going to need your love and support. And I do, too."
Jody spoke up, "Everybody has been looking at me, but Hal may be making a bigger commitment. He's forty, and talking about an eighteen month training program leading to the Olympic Trials next year. And I know about commitment with you guys. Short of a heart attack, he's not going to back off. Neither am I. And, Coach Anderson, it's your job to keep my basketball coach off my back. He'll get my full devotion to basketball, but I'm going to be a marathoner as well."
"Agreed," said Jim.
Tim said, "Seoul, here we come. I'm going to tell Fred to book a hotel for the Gang, we're still in the Olympics. Murray, Hal, and Jody."
"Who's Fred?" asked Jody.
"Fred's our angel. And he's going to want to be your angel as well. He's a wonderful guy, and he has this magic wallet that opens when needed. Never for trivial things, but always for important things-like getting your family to Seoul to watch you run."
"I'm a long way from Seoul. And there are a lot of young men thinking that they're going to fill one of the American spaces in the marathon."
Jim said, "But you're the only one with Hal for a coach and Tim managing the love and support. Think positively. You're on your way to Boston and Seoul."
By God he was. Our morning runs almost became ten mile sprints. By May he was pushing me instead of the other way around. There weren't a lot of marathons in the Dakotas, but The Longest Day Marathon in Brookings, South Dakota, on July 11 was a perfect inaugural race for Jody. He needed to test his mettle in competition and get his qualification for Boston under his belt. He only need a time of 3:10 to qualify for Boston, but I'd told him that with only a year to go before the Olympic trials he needed to be well under three hours.
As far as I was concerned, Jody and I would get in the car and drive to Brookings, spend a day getting ready for the race-walking the route and relaxing-run the race and then come home. Tim got a whiff of that plan and called me up and said, "Oh, no, buddy. It's the kid's first race. It's a big deal. We load IT and a couple of vans and a whole crowd goes. We have someone at every mile marker, and a cheering section at the finish line. This is a big deal. And you two were going to slip away and just run a little race. You know we don't work that way."
I should've known. But Tim was right. That was the way to express love and support, and that was the forte of the Gang. And they delivered.
Charlie drove IT, and Jody and I sat in the front seat, with Tim and Sue across the aisle. Behind us were Jody's parents, Anna and Franz Matthews. Over the three years that Jody'd been running with me, I'd kept pretty close contact with his parents. They were good people and had obviously done a good job of raising their only child. They knew he was good at basketball, but they'd never really understood his desire to run with me every morning. Now, he was, in Anna's words, "marathon crazy," and they were a little unsure of things. But they weren't going to stand in his way, and they continued to be supportive. The invitation to ride along to Brookings in IT was unexpected; in fact the whole trip to Brookings was unexpected.
At some point on the bus someone, I think maybe Andy who was sitting with Kara aboard IT, called out, "Will this old bus make it to Boston?"
Tim had said, "Of course it will. We have to get these two to the marathon."
I felt Jody tense up a little, and I guessed that his parents hadn't yet heard of his Boston plans. And if they hadn't heard of Boston, they probably weren't expecting a trip to the Olympic Trials either. I turned and looked at them, and it was obvious that my guesses were correct. I said, "I'm guessing that Jody hasn't fully shared his ambitions with you. Would I be right?"
"Very right," said Anna.
"Jody, just what ambitions?" asked Franz.
Jody took a deep breath and said, very quickly, "If everything works the way it's supposed to, Hal and I are going to finish the 1988 Boston Marathon and the Seoul Olympic Marathon one, two. We haven't figured out who is one and who is two."
I roared with laughter. "Dream on, kid. You may be that good by then, but I can't possibly be."
Jody looked me straight in the eye and said, "Always go for the top. Never compromise. You and your Gang taught me that. We may not make it, but by God that's our goal."
He was dead serious. This kid's goal was to bring home either a gold or silver medal from Korea, and the only person he was willing to concede gold to was me. I was flabbergasted. Was he setting himself up for the biggest fall in the world? Or, did he have the emotional strength to set a goal like that and then live with achieving far less? Or, could he do it? Did he seriously think I could? Who knew? But I knew, right then, that I had a serious competitor on my hands, and that he deserved every ounce of support I could give him. And that meant that I had to strive just as hard as he would to earn those medals. My God, what had I gotten myself into?
Franz and Anna listened to Jody and watched us both. Anna said, "Jody, we love you, and we'll support you. But don't push too hard, and don't set yourself up for a fall."
"Don't worry, Mom. This is going to be one terrific year. I want to make it to the Olympics and I want to do well in Boston. But if I don't, I'm going to have a wonderful time trying. And so's Hal. Right, Hal?"
"Jody, I'm not sure that I knew what I was getting myself into when I accepted your challenge that morning. But I said, 'Yes,' then and I meant it. It's going to be one Hell of a year."
"Amen," said Franz.
The next day we walked the marathon route in Brookings, and we discussed timing for the race the next day. Jody said, "My personal best for a marathon is 2:43 and a few seconds. I've got to do better to make it to the Olympics. Can you set a pace for us tomorrow that'll bring us in just under 2:40?"
"Sure, but can you hold that pace? Can you take three minutes off your personal best?"
"I'll stay at your heels. You set the pace. I'll make it."
I had never heard such determination.
Fred had booked hotels for everybody, simply saying, "That's my job." I think that Franz and Anna were reluctant to accept his hospitality, but Tim spoke with them quietly and they relented, graciously accepting his offer of a room in a top motel. Jody and I were assigned to sleep in IT. Sue was sleeping with Fred and Marty. Those arrangements were her idea. I wasn't so sure that my being alone in IT with Jody was such a good idea, but she insisted that it was. She spoke to Franz and Anna, explaining that our being together the night before the race was important for both of our successes.
Tim and Charlie sat in IT with us that evening and we talked about Jody's passion for winning the races. Tim had said, "Don't get your hopes up about gold medals, Jody."
Jody had said, "My heart isn't set on any medal. But you have to strive for the top. I can deal with not making it; I can't deal with not striving for the top. Ask my bball coach. I'm determined to win, and we usually do. But I took our one loss this year in stride-I handled it much better than Coach did; he almost cried."
Charlie said, "Jody, you remind me so much of Tim at your age, I can't believe it. You're great." I turned to Hal, "Will your 2:40 win tomorrow?"
"I've checked the records. Their best ever time was 2:23 and a half. But last year 2:47 won. Who knows?"
Jody said, "Winning here isn't our goal. My setting a personal best on time is. We'll do it."
The previous night Jody had been in the room with his parents, and Sue and I had been in IT. Tonight we were alone in IT. As soon as Tim and Charlie left Jody turned to me and said, "I've talked to a number of people in the Gang. I know that love and support the night before a race are usually sexual. I also know that you folks take the age of 18 very seriously and I'm only 17. But I can hug you, and I can follow in Charlie's footsteps and hug your legs of steel. And you can kiss me goodnight.
He headed to the bedroom in the back of the bus, stripped off his clothes-all of them-and slipped under the sheet. I followed, stripped as well, and slipped under the sheet as he held it for me. I'd considered leaving my jockey shorts on, but realized that Jody would've been upset, disappointed, or something if I had. So I stripped completely naked and climbed in. It wasn't the first time we'd been naked together. We'd changed together in dressing rooms fairly often. But this was clearly different. How far did this young man intend to push me?
We cuddled together, and he did just what he said. He slipped down the bed and hugged my legs, just like Charlie liked to. He avoided my genitals quite easily, and then slipped behind me. I could feel his hardness, but he made no sexual gestures at all. He reached over and kissed me, tongue deep inside. Then he lay back, staying tight against me, but with his hand lightly draped over my shoulder. "Goodnight, Hal. Thank you. This's been wonderful. We're going to have a great race tomorrow."
I wasn't ready for all of that. Was Jody gay? He was acting like it. How did he know how far he could push? I realized he was asleep, and I soon followed. Those questions could wait for another day.
The race was almost an anticlimax. Tim and Fred did have people at every mile marker, marking the time. I'd worked out times for each mile marker, and their signs would be expressed in either + or - from the goal. We got a good break at the beginning and were ahead of our goal at the first mile marker, and at every one thereafter. At marker 17 we speeded up, and I wondered if Jody was going to be able to make the switch. He did, and at marker 26 he passed me. He had reserves we hadn't counted on. I decided to hold my pace and let him move ahead as he could. He finished the race in 2:38:34 and I finished in 2:39:12. The winner, Randy Fischer, who had set the course record a few years before, finished in 2:36:15 almost 13 minutes off his record. Jody was second and I was third.
As I crossed the finish line, standing up and not overly stressed, I saw Jody, who'd crossed less than a minute before. He was no more stressed than I was. As soon as I'd crossed and gotten out of the way of following runners he grabbed me in a huge bear hug, jumping as he hugged. "We did it Hal, right on the money." I was glad to see that Jody still had some teenage boyish enthusiasm in him. Most of the time he was as mature as me or more so. Right then, he was a happy little boy, and I hugged him back with joy.
Soon we were in the middle of the Gang, being congratulated by all. Jody pulled loose and walked over to where his Mom and Dad were, "Come join the circle Mom and Dad." They did, and they were hugged by everyone just as Jody and I were.
It was a wonderful moment. I said to them, and to everyone, "Jody has a real shot at his goals. Now, I'm hungry, and I'm sure that this skinny teenager is even hungrier. Let's eat." Fred was ready with reservations for 24 at a local restaurant!
That night Sue came back with me and Jody went back in with his parents. I asked Sue, "As far as I know there's only one big bed in the Matthews' room. Where does Jody sleep when the three of them are together? Any idea?"
"I know exactly where he sleeps. Right in the big bed with them, wrapped around his mother about the same way Charlie wraps around Tim. Anna kind of hugs Franz."
"And just how do you happen to know that rather intimate detail of the Matthews' life?"
"It's a long story; do you want to hear it?"
"Of course. You knew I would."
"OK. Right after our conversation about whether you should offer Jody an opportunity to be a serious marathoner, I thought it might be a good idea to talk to his parents. Being a woman and mother, I decided that I'd start with his mother, Anna. So I called her up and invited her over for coffee one morning. This was before Jody had moved very far toward being serious about the marathon. I told her that I thought it might be a good idea for us to have a chat, just between 'us girls.'"
"And you never told me about this?"
"It was just between 'us girls,' remember?"
"Women can come up with the most wonderful excuses for secrets, but let a man try it and, BANG."
"Don't be silly. Do you want to hear this story? I'm telling you now."
"Then be still and listen. Anna came over and seemed very appreciative of my inviting her. She and Franz seem to have a pretty good communication channel with Jody, but he'd been feeding her only bits and pieces about his addition of the marathon to his sports repertoire. I told her of the conversation that you and Jody'd had at our breakfast table, and how Jody'd become determined to succeed in the marathon."
I said, "Wait a minute. Did you talk about Boston and the Olympics?"
"I think I did."
"When that was suggested on the bus, and Jody owned up to that ambition, both Franz and Anna acted like it was the first time they were hearing it."
"My guess is that they're very good actors. I'm sure that Anna and I talked about it. I presume that she talked about it to Franz. But they probably decided that they ought to let Jody tell them in his own time."
"And Andy spilled the beans."
"Good old Andy. It's just as well. The Matthews' have certainly had the chance to talk it all out now; and that's good."
"So what else did you learn from Anna?"
"Franz and Anna are very comfortable with a close physical relationship with Jody. It's been their pattern since he was a baby. The result is that they weren't in the least upset at the idea that you and Jody might spend the night together. And it wouldn't have occurred to them that you wouldn't sleep together. I think they're a little naive, but I don't think it would even occur to them that you might have had a sexual relationship with Jody. There's more to the story, but I haven't heard it all. Anna suggested that the two families get together some evening, real soon, and hear each other's stories. I assured her that our story had to be as good as hers."
The trip home was uneventful. I remember that Phil asked Tim if the bedroom was available. Tim insisted that the rules of IT meant that everyone rode in the seats in the front. He'd said, "Phil, I know exactly what you have in mind, and it would be great. But if we start making exceptions on where people ride, then it's inevitable that the exceptions will grow. And if we ever do have an accident, which we could, somebody will be hurt because they aren't buckled in."
I think Phil understood. Regardless, he accepted the rule. I noticed, however, that he and Franklin missed lunch at our lunch stop, and were quietly sitting in the upper lounge when we got back from the little restaurant. They looked quite content!
Bill Manley got wind of Hal's having run in The Longest Day Marathon and gave Hal a phone call. "What gives? Your time there was better than you've been running recently. And who's the Jody kid? My sources tell me that he was with you. And that Tim, Charlie and a whole mess of the Gang were there. That's not typical Hal these days. Come on, what gives?"
Hal pondered that for a minute. He was silent long enough for Bill to say, "That silence strongly suggests that something gives. Are you going to tell me?'
Hal remembered Jody saying that they had to be honest about what they were doing, and public. Jody was right, and Bill was the right person to tell. "Jody's a budding marathon champion. I'm not sure that his day will come next spring in Boston, or in Seoul, but it's coming. And he's trying hard to make it happen in 1988, Boston and Seoul."
"Does he have a chance?"
"A good chance?"
"If not Seoul then certainly Barcelona."
"What about you?"
"We have a deal. I push him. He pushes me. I'll be in Boston and at the Trials next year-with Jody. His race in Brookings qualified him for Boston. He'll enter for sure. I'd say top ten for sure. A first would surprise me, but I've been surprised by this kid before."
"And I can quote you?"
"It's on the record."
"Can I come visit and watch you two run?"
"Bring Mike with you."
"I'll bet his partner, Brian, would like to come and maybe shoot a video. Would that be OK?"
"Sure. We'd all love to see you and Mike, and everybody would like to meet Brian."
"Do you need to check with Jody on this?"
"No. Jody would love the publicity. It was he that talked about our efforts being public."
"Does he know how public being your running partner/protege might be?"
"No. Neither do I. I've been out of it for a long time. I don't think I'm going to generate much interest unless and until I, or we, put in a really good time in Boston."
"Humbug. SI will play up the story I write, especially if I include some of Mike's really good pics. I don't suppose that there's any chance of getting one of you really exhausted after finishing a race?"
"I certainly hope not. And I'm not going to stage one."
"I'll get in touch with Mike and Brian and see how quick we can get there. Do me a favor, will you?"
"Sit on this until we get there. The article goes down the tubes if some newspaper starts a rumor and somebody tracks you down to Brookings. Just keep mum till we get there."
"I will, and I'll talk to Jody."
"Thanks, Hal. See you soon."
The next morning I told Jody of the conversation as we drank some orange juice after our 15 mile run-we'd increased the distance in late spring from ten, to twelve, and now fifteen miles in the morning. Much to my surprise the collection of runners that ran with us at the beginning and were back with us at the end had grown to about ten. I didn't understand why the group had grown when they got to spend so little time running with me, but Jody told me that watching the two of us get faster and faster was becoming a fascination in the little group.
Jody was intrigued with the idea of an SI story about me that might mention him. I assured him that it would more than mention him. And I was right.
Bill, Mike and Brian showed up just three days later, loaded with camera and video equipment. The little morning running group was delighted to skip running a couple of mornings and act as video assistants. We were filmed, posed, interviewed, reposed, filmed again, asked questions silly ("Do you ever drink Gatorade?) to serious ("How long have you known each other and how did you meet?) The last led to an interview with Jim, and the fact that he was a former Olympic medalist just added to the story. Tim and Charlie were also interviewed, as well as Marty and Judy. Paul and Billy would also get interviewed, because all three reporters wanted to pursue the Gang angle. Bill interviewed Paul and Billy by phone, but Mike and Brian traveled to Ironwood and Bloomington to get video and pictures.
I was flabbergasted when I saw the next issue of Sports Illustrated. Early August must've been a slow sports week, with baseball not yet into World Series excitement and most other sports in a summer pause. In any case, the cover was a picture of Jody and me racing along neck and neck. We weren't exhausted, but we were clearly straining. It was a beautiful picture, and it led into a wonderful story about the young kid and the old man (I guess I don't resent that, in sports 40 is an old man) heading for Boston and Seoul. We were reminded of the previous successes of my friends and me (Bill hadn't used the word Gang at my request) and had written the story from the angle that Jody was joining a long list of successful Olympic athletes.
Jody couldn't believe his picture on the front of SI; his parents, and for that matter the entire university community were startled. Jody and I were certainly "public" now. We began to see an audience at our early runs, just standing along the streets. Luckily that didn't last long.
I asked Jody, "Well, what's the impact of seeing your face on the magazine cover?"
"I'm more determined than ever." He was, and his times showed it. He was going to be a competitor in the big races.
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