Honaker talked with Swag Hartel, long-time owner of Swag’s shoe store. He believes Hartel summarizes Doc’s will the best. "I remember watching the finish of the Wally Bright Race in 2002 and seeing Doc fall over," said Hartel. "I went to help him and he became very indignant. He got up, made it to the finish line, and collapsed again. God rest his soul! After the race his wife asked if we sold elbow pads and a couple of days later they came in and bought some!"
Honaker says that, despite their 56-year age gap, he and Doc were great friends. "I met Doc after I joined the Louisville Kiwanis Club but our friendship, naturally, revolved around running," says Honaker. "As I prepared for my marathons, Doc became the greatest coach I could ever have. Doc gave me the best advice. 'Don't be a sightseer in New York, it'll come back to haunt you,' 'Do your speedwork!,' and even prescribed pickle juice to help relieve the leg cramps which consistently ailed me. It worked! He was always the first to call after I finished a marathon. 'Not bad, you'll do better next time.' He was also the first to congratulate me on my wedding day. 'Don't let married life get in the way of your running now!'
"My favorite Doc story occurred back in 2003. I was scheduled to run a 5-mile race on a fall morning. Doc and his beloved wife (and greatest fan), Katherine, were set to meet to me at the race that morning. As I returned home from work on Friday afternoon, I ended up in a very bad car accident that required a trip to the hospital. My car was totaled but fortunately I walked away unscathed. Feeling pretty woozy, I walked out of the emergency room and made a nervous phone call to Doc. 'Doc, I was in a really bad car accident today. I'm not sure what to do about the race tomorrow.' As only a loving doctor would, he prescribed to his patient, 'Son, the best thing for you to snap out of this is to get you back on your feet and to run that race tomorrow!' Sure enough I met Doc and Katherine at the starting line.
"As he grew closer to 90, I saw less and less of Doc at the races. Driving and his issues with balance had both become major obstacles. The once constant figure at Louisville road races became confined to an assisted living facility. True to form, he continued working out by lifting weights at his new residence. While he couldn't run any longer, Doc still followed my progress as a runner and reveled in the running champions that his grandsons had become - attending George Washington, Furman, and Centre College where all would succeed in track. I know he enjoyed it when his son Mark decided to celebrate his 50th birthday by running 50 miles. Like father, like son!
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