Some marathons are made to be forgotten. So it is with the fourth marathon I attempted. I can't remember why I decided it made sense to run a marathon in the fall of 1981. Since the Grandma's marathon of 1979 my running and racing was sporadic at best.
I had moved to Little Rock in March of 1980. I trained fairly regularly despite a summer that turned hotter than hell. I can remember going into work at 1 p.m. during the months of July and August and seeing a bank clock hitting triple digits. I did most of my three to five mile runs at night, after 11 p.m. It was the only way to survive the hottest summer on record in years.
I ran only one race in Little Rock. It was a 10K in September. I was over-matched and ill prepared and barely ran 42 minutes. A month later I had moved to Kansas City for a better television job and the running was on again, off again throughout the winter and spring.
I ran the 1981 Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I must have been in decent shape as I broke 1:30. The time was still a good five minutes slower than my best half at the time but at some point in the weekend after the early June race I had decided to run a marathon again.
It would be another year before I raced again. First, I ran a 10K in Louisburg, Kansas finishing somewhere in the top ten in 39 minutes. This was the first weekend in September.
I checked the calendars and had decided on a late September marathon in the little southwest Iowa town of Lamoni. The town is home to Graceland College, which produced 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner.
The marathon course consisted of two large loops, some paved, some gravel and some brick with a mix of gentle, rolling hills. When the gun sounded I found myself out in third place among all of the runners and that's where I would stay through the first loop. Second place was out of sight and I could see no one behind me.
Somewhere after 17 miles I rolled up and passed the second place runner. First was a good 20 minutes ahead of me. The last loop became pretty intense over the last six miles. I negotiated the brick streets over the last two miles praying for the finish line which I crossed just under 3 hours and 12 minutes. I had a second place medal to show for a race that didn't offer a lot of competition.
At this point in my life work and not running was becoming a bigger and bigger priority. I would run the occasional road race after that, but my marathon running days seemed to be behind me. It would be two years before I decided to give 26.2 miles another go.