Wednesday, March 25, 2020 It is still raw out so I opted to not run outside but get back on the Zero. I needed to see how my boy Rocky was going to do. I hadn’t realized how many parallels I would find with my role model.
He has to start training seriously now – not just running for endurance but strength. I know that to have a strong core I need to do push-ups, planks, abdominals. Well Rocky knows how to do a push-up. I asked Roger to help me do a Rocky push-up and he just rolled his eyes. Rocky does one-handed-full-body-while-switching-from hand to hand. I’m going to have to stick with from the knees push-ups the eye roll tells me.
One of Rocky’s workouts was punching a carcass in a meat locker. A tv reporter sets up a story in the locker that is seen by one of Apollo Creeds trainers. The trainer says to Apollo, “You better look at this guy,” or something like that. Apollo replies that he doesn’t need to look, exhibiting his disdain for the lowly Philadelphia boxer.
The night before the fight Rocky goes over to the arena where the match is going to take place. It hits him that this is a really big deal. Rocky comes home and we see him tell Adrian that he can’t do it. He is having some serious doubts. He says he doesn’t care if he wins, he just needs to finish. How many times have runners said that? “I don’t care about my time; I just want to finish.”
In the next scene we see Rocky in his locker room at the arena. He has on the robe that Adrian’s brother bought for him with an ad on the back for the meat locker. They come out and start down the aisle to the ring.
The scene shifts to Apollo Creed as he and his entourage come out. He’s all decked out like Uncle Sam, being conveyed in some kind of chariot contraption. The fans are loving it. Their hero is putting on a show. Everyone expects Apollo to win; no one has ever gone the distance against him.
This is where my mind wandered to a similar scene; not in boxing but in racing. Back in 2003 Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson agreed to come and race in the masters indoor championship at Reggie Lewis in Boston. It was good advertising for the three-day event and an easy win for both legends in racing. The local news stations were giving it a lot of coverage. Two champion marathoners running 3,000 meters indoors. Joanie lived up to expectations and won her event in what I think was an age division best time.
Rodgers was then in the M55 age division. Being the marathoner that he was, he did not know any of the competitors in the 3,000 meter race. When the gun went off and Middletown’s Harry Nolan took off in his characteristic fast start, Rodgers stayed back with the pack. Rodgers had no idea that Harry Nolan was one of the fastest men in the country – in the world for that matter – in that age division – from 800 meters to 3,000 meters and that goofy running style was Harry’s trademark. Rodgers expected this man with the crazy form to fade quickly and fall back. He never did and beat Rodgers by I think maybe several seconds. I can’t look it up, now that USATF has changed their website, which is very frustrating.
Apollo Creed threw a few jabs at Rocky in the first round that Rocky easily danced away from. Then Rocky threw a haymaker at Apollo that nearly ended the fight in the first round. In the corner after the bell, Apollo’s manager scolded him. “This guy is here to fight, and you’re just goofing.” Or something like that.
I know that Bill Rodgers wasn’t goofing off, but he sure was surprised when he found he wasn’t the fastest man at 3,000 meters in Boston that night. Apollo Creed found out that Rocky Balboa was going to go 15 rounds and finish; both of them bloodied and bruised. Apollo Creed is declared the winner by a decision, so that is where my parallel ends. In racing you have to cross the finish line first to be declared the winner. In the movie the crowd knows who really was the winner. It was Rocky. He went the distance. He finished.