The queue27

The journey to Greece, where I was going to run the marathon, took about nine hours. For me to sit for that long on a plane — especially with my right leg problems — was a difficult task. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom. I was standing in line for about fifteen minutes but the line did not move. So very gently I was stretching my right leg while standing.

An elderly lady saw me and came up to me. “I am sure you are going for the marathon,” she said. “Look, my husband too is going for the marathon.”

Then she called her husband over and introduced me to him. I had a long talk with him. He came from Cleveland, and this was going to be his seventeenth marathon. Sixteen times he had run, but this was going to be his first time in Greece. He told me his time in his first marathon was 4:17. Now he does it in three hours or 3:15.

He was advising me to do hill work. “You must do hill work if you want to become a good runner. Nobody can become a good runner without doing hill work. If you want to increase your speed, if you want to strengthen your legs, if you want to have long strides, then hill work is the only answer.”

I thanked him deeply.

RB 91. 7 October 1979