And Now, the Rest of the Story
By Bill Donnelly
Some of you may know that besides having my meandering written essays regularly appear in the Checkers Chatter, I actually had an article featured in the November 2003 issue of Running Times. Entitled “The Ignorance of a Long Distance Runner”, it was about, believe it or not, the mistakes I make one Autumn Back in the Day. To make a long story short, it was: boy runs marathon, passes out, runs another two weeks later, then another two weeks later, ends up in ambulance. Fascinating stuff, eh.
Of course there is much more to it, but you have to read the article to find out what. Thing is, when I wrote the story, I did leave out a few interesting and somewhat humorous facts in the interest of brevity. Also, the editor of said magazine had to cut just a couple of paragraphs to make the article fit the space allotted for it. Not much, but anyone who has written knows the pain of seeing your baby, your sweat and blood, your very life, butchered for the sake of saving some space so some maker of dribble kabibbles can advertise his trivial wares in said space. But I get away from myself.
I thought I would set the record straight and now tell you The Rest Of The Story! Of course, if you haven’t read the original, this will just be a bunch of gibberish to you, and yes, I know that’s what you may already think of most of my writings. I read the Checkers Forum, I know all about the practice some of you have of lining the kitty-litter box with my articles. Just remember, I know who you are, and I have the power OF THE PEN!!! But I get away from myself again.
Anyway, if you want to read the article first, but did not save all of your past issues of Running Times, you can find it on the internet. Just log on to runningtimes.com, on the left click on articles, scroll way down to the section called Reflections, and as the articles are alphabetized, you will find my article under I for Ignorance (somehow fits). Now, click on that and there you have it. Now I know you all want to do the right thing, so while you read the article, I’m going to go out and shovel the snow. See you later.
I’m back, man that was a lot of snow. What! Not done yet! OK, I’ll go make that turkey dinner I’ve been meaning to make since Thanksgiving. Hurry up now, finish it so we can get on with this.
There you go, finally done. I know, there were not a lot of pictures but a lot of words, but cripes, four hours to read a three page article. Anyway, now we can get on with it, The Rest Of The Story!
The first thing left out was near the beginning when I talked of how poor most of us runners were. What I wrote was: Most of the runners I knew were very competitive, while at the same time, we were not very well off financially. In 1974, Dr. George Sheehan of Runner’s World was addressing a convention of podiatrists in
. My running friends and I snuck in to hear what the great Doctor had to say. He was trying to convince the podiatrists to jump on the bandwagon, for he predicted that the running boom was here to stay, and there would be careers to be made by taking care of running injuries, but more importantly, preventing running injuries. Dr. Sheehan of course was right, but the one point he made that stayed with me was the warning to his audience that runners overall were a poor lot. “Most do not have a pot to piss in” were his exact words. Buffalo
I’m guessing the editor left all this out because of Dr. Sheehan’s work with Runner’s World, THE competitor. Or perhaps it was the “pot to piss in” remark. Who knows? Also, in the next line, I said I ran in $17 Tiger Bostons (now Asics), but they left out the part about Tiger now being Asics. Non-paid advertising I guess.
A big part of the story that I left out involved the trip itself to
, and those I traveled with. Any of you who have been faithful readers of my stories of Back in The Day, yes, all three of you, know of Eleanor, my significant-other at the time who was famous for receiving the first ever Belle Watling Beaver Pin. Well, just before I ran the 1974 NYC Marathon, we had first met, went to Art Park once on a test date (her words) and she agreed to accept a ride from me to New York City so she could visit her best friend, Debby Harry or a name something like that. New York
Now she KNEW I didn’t have the proverbial pot to piss in, so we grabbed a ride with my folks, who always jumped at the chance to visit NYC, where my older sister Maureen lived. Also along for the ride was my 15 year old brother Jimmy, who was as charming as a fifteen year old brother can be, if you know what I mean, but the trip down went without a hitch, we dropped Eleanor off at her friend’s place in the Village, and proceeded to my sisters up on 181st and Fort Washington. Eleanor and I would not see each other until we would meet at the West Side YMCA, located at
and Central Park West, race headquarters then, after the race Sunday. Or that was the plan! Oh yes, also meeting us in NYC was my sister Elizabeth and her two year old son Earendil (a name of Hobbit fame), who were in from Canada, and would be riding with us back to Buffalo. More on that later.
Well, as you know by now, if you really did finish my article like you were told to do, I ran the marathon, and thanks to many extenuating circumstances, the last thing I remember before finishing was turning out of
Central park towards the finish at . Next thing I knew, and I only remember being in a thick, painful fog when consciousness returned to me, was waking up in the emergency room of
, with a team of doctors and nurses trying to jab me with what appeared to be very sharp, long instruments of torture. I later realized they were just trying to take a blood sample and put an IV needle into my arm. Roosevelt Hospital
Be that as it may, I truly believed at the time that I was dying. You see, on the Thursday before the race, several of us
park runners had finished a run and gone over to the Schuper House on Delaware for our Thursday beer run. It must have been part of my carbo-loading for the up coming marathon, but we partook of many barley-malt beverages and talked of past running incidents. This particular evening, Belle Watling Joe Haroney told us of his experience of passing out right before the finish line of the 1973 Boston Marathon. After being helped across the finish line (and thus disqualified) he was taken to the medical tent where he lay quite a while. When he finally had some whits about him, he asked a doctor if his heart was about to give out. The doc laughed and told him his heart was the only thing he had going for him.
So there I was, a mere three days later, looking up at the ceiling of the emergency room. As my memories of what Joe had said had started out foggy, thanks to all the barley-malt beverages I had consumed during my evening of carbo-loading, that story of his disintegrated into a exaggerated short tale whose only part I could remember was “Doc, is it my heart?!!” My mind wasn’t working at all, thanks to being in shock from heat prostration and dehydration. I literally thought for what seemed like a very long time that I was dying because my heart was now a bum-ticker.
A couple hours passed during which my mind refused to work, and therefore, refused to budge off this thought. A very scary experience, but perhaps good because my mind could not focus on what my body was up to. You see, it was very angry with me for putting it through such a horrendous experience, and my body was trying to pay me back. I was extremely thirsty, yet I couldn’t even keep down the ice-chips they would try to give me. And I had absolutely no control of my other bodily functions, if you know what I mean. Let me just tell you this, lying on a bedpan for hours on end can be a very painful experience, unless your mind keeps insisting you are about to die of an exploding right ventricle.
Finally my mind started working, and somewhere away off in the misty midst of my mind, a name called to me. It was many, many minutes before I heard it clearly. ELEANOR, YOU FOOL! Oh gosh, I was supposed to be meeting her at this very time, and I had to let someone know to get her. I got the nurses attention, and tried to tell her my plight. Tried is the word. My body was still mad at me and not letting me form my thoughts into communicable words of any sort. I literally tried to simply tell her I needed to get Eleanor, but all the nurse heard was “Isst frossem belosadasht Embrionbicil franbom cobquesting …….”, and on and on for five minutes at least. The nurse finally gave up and as she could tell I was desperate to communicate my message to someone, she said she would get my mother, even though family and friends were absolutely not allowed into the emergency room. Apparently, she figured I was speaking some unfamiliar language only my mother could understand, and wouldn’t you know it, she was right.
By the third try, my mother realized what I was trying to say, and said she would take care of things. She sent my dad and brother Mike over to the Y where they found a very worried Eleanor, and they happened to be there as Fred Labow announced my name as having come in 29th place, so they also picked up my medal. Meanwhile, my mom had gotten her foot into the door of the emergency room, and she was not leaving till she knew I was alright.
Well, unfortunately for Eleanor, I was not ready to leave the hospital until late that evening, plus the doctor insisted I come back the next Wednesday for a follow up. Unfortunately for Eleanor, because my dad was a Journalism Professor at
, and he had to get back to Buffalo State for the next morning’s class. That meant leaving long before I was even out of the hospital. That meant driving all the way back to Buffalo with my folks, whom she had just met on the trip down, and my fifteen year old brother Jimmy, who was a fifteen year old brother, and my sister Elizabeth and her two year old, Earendil, whom Eleanor met in the waiting room of the hospital. Buffalo
What a trip that must have been for Eleanor. I guess I had it pretty easy compared to her. And yet she would keep going out with me and stick with me in the next several years to come. All I know is I was never ever to mention that trip back to Buffalo never ever at all and forever. What a trip that must have been for Eleanor. Maybe I’ll ask my family what went on, and that will be another article.
Anyway, I did live to run the
Kitchener, Ontario Marathon two weeks later, and two weeks after that, I ran the first Skylon Marathon, which was basically the same course as the Casino Niagara Marathon. In the Running Times article, it says that a reporter on the national news said of the finish, I looked like I was finishing my second marathon of the day. This had been greatly shortened, and I was most unhappy with it because it left out two important names, and one was my good friend.
What I wrote was: “Now it so happens that Haywood Hale Broun Jr., the sports editor for CBS Nightly News, was covering this marathon, and when it aired nationally two Saturdays later, I would get my 1.5 seconds of fame. The race director was my friend Jesse Kregal, who was also timpanist for the
Philharmonic, a major orchestra. Broun covered the race from the angle of this guy who runs to the beat of his own drum organizing an international marathon. Haywood Broun’s father was one of the finest sports writers of the first part of the century, and his son had the gift of words too. He could make anything sound like poetry, and that included the marathon. Buffalo
In his report, he showed much of the race. Towards the end, the report showed some good runners finishing and looking fresh, while Broun was saying that some runners looked as if they were just finishing a light jog in the park. He then said that others looked like they were finishing their second marathon of the day. Guess whose finish the report showed for those words. Little did Broun know that I was finishing my third marathon in four weeks.”
So now you know The Rest Of The Story! But just remember, there still might be more. I think I’ll start doing my research tomorrow for my future piece entitled “What a Long Strange Trip it Was; Eh Eleanor?”