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Road to Tokyo: Healing Broken Wings

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Accepting, Adapting and Overcoming

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Words from My Father

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Making Progress and a Little Diversion

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Going the Distance, Going for Speed

Accepting, Adapting and Overcoming

It’s now the middle of October 1963. Last month, on September 10th, learning that I was hypoglycemic and borderline Type 2 Diabetic was much more challenging than I originally thought it would be. It still had me feeling unbalanced. I was struggling with a whole new outlook on life. How do I train for the Olympic Games? Does it affect my military occupational specialty? I also found myself fighting off demons telling me to forget about the Olympics and just get control of my health.

I also remember when I quoted the Marine Corps motto: Adapt and Overcome. I actually started laughing and then hopelessly cried. I felt broken inside. 

What had I learned since my doctor’s report that can help me come up with a strategy?

1. I know it was going low blood sugar that made me an inconsistent runner and brought on this quiet form of depression. 

2. I am basically Type 2 diabetic, so I have to deal with it! I should eat 3 hours or sooner before my daily workouts and before the competition, because after 3 hours I rapidly start going low blood sugar.

3. In college, I ate 4 hours to 4 ½ hours before training and racing, so in reality, I was going low blood sugar during every race. This explains my low mileage in training and some devastating performances in competition.

4. In college, I ran less than 40 miles a week with no speed work and trained 9 ½ months out of the year.

Words from My Father

I need to regain my composure. It’s time to move on. To do this, I start to let my mind wander. I do this when I need to think because my mind usually takes me to a place of comfort. I find myself thinking of my father. I remember him saying to me when my mother died: “Son, you have broken wings and it’s the pursuit of a dream that heals broken dreams.” (Not the exact words he spoke, but how I grew to understand them as I matured). “Find your dream, Son!

The last time I thought those words, I was in college and on the verge of suicide. It was then I felt the energy of my father in the presence of an unspoken word: “Don’t!

I got off the chair I was standing on in front of a window. I wrote down my dream to heal a broken soul. I wanted to heal so desperately. I actually felt the dream and wrote "Gold Medal. 1964 Olympics. 10,000 Meter Run."

That was November 1960.

From my father, I learned, through action and love, that your dreams will deliver your passion in life. If you develop your skills to equal your passion and bring them together, magic can happen. Over time, one of the magical things you do just may be looked upon as a miracle. My father had me believing in magic and miracles. Then he died. I was twelve years old. My world came crashing down. But the memories live on and are becoming the cornerstones of my life and Olympic pursuit.

Making Progress and a Little Diversion

I have been taking protein for 5 weeks now and have included speed work and speed endurance workouts. I will slowly increase my mileage and in 5 more weeks, I will start including the long run every week.

I am excited about the increased intensity of my training. I am tired, but my body seems to be recovering well. In time, my weekly mileage will be where I want it to be. Be patient, Billy! No injuries!

The last 4 weeks have gone by fast! I am looking forward to a night of relaxing and entertainment! It's November 10th, 1963 and today is the Marine Corps Birthday Ball! Patricia and I have been anxiously awaiting this. At the Ball, as we dance, I look at Patricia and tell her how beautiful she is. She looks around and tells me I look like a Marine. We all look alike in our dress blues. We talk about when we went to the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C. on the 8th and watched the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon perform a 24-man precision rifle drill exhibition. It's the oldest part of the Corps and their performance is unique. They exemplify the United States Marine Corps: The Few - The Proud - The Marines.

It is the perfect diversion for me to relax before I once again renew my Olympic training, making adjustments as needed.

In regard to my running goals, I have never felt so empowered with the possibilities in front of me to find out if I truly have the fortitude to reach within the depths of my capabilities and compete against myself to the greatest extent possible. I am incorporating the Marine Corps values of discipline and spirit with my Lakota culture, traditions and spirituality, then extracting from them the virtues and values that empower them. This will lead to my Olympic pursuit.

Going the Distance, Going for Speed

It is the virtues and values of a society that give its citizens confidence, direction, and clarity of mind to make positive decisions and stay the course. To heal broken wings is my dream. The Olympics have become the catalyst, and for the first time, I understand and feel the power of a dream and the sacredness it can possess. 


So, the National Cross Country Championships are November 30, 1963. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics are eleven months away - October 1964. The weekly total of miles I have run for the last ten weeks is as follows: 42-36-30-31-32-35-35-51-36-52 and 26 miles.

My mileage is low, but I am inspired by how strong I feel doing my speed and speed endurance workouts. November 28, 1963 - I will be on my way to the National Cross Country Championships! My goal remains the same: To be the top USA runner, so I can represent the United States in the St. Sylvester Midnight Run on December 31, 1963, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. If I do well in Sao Paulo, I should be transferred to Camp Pendleton, California to join those training for the 1964 Olympic Games. It is my last chance! Is it still possible for me to believe in magic and miracles?

See you next month!

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