Monday, June 2, 2014


Six weeks ago life finally broke me.  For 33 years I weathered the storm and withstood whatever curveballs life could throw at me.  On April 21st I failed miserably.  On a beautiful day in Boston, a day which was everything the city needed and more, I was finally broken

For over a year I had waited for this day… I had *needed* this day.  When it finally arrived I wasn't ready for it.  I knew this wouldn't be my fastest race.  I didn't want it to be.  My goal was simple:  HAVE FUN.  I ran sub 4 last year without any significant difficulty.  I had originally thought I'd come in around 4:30 this year.  The only reason I even cared about time was that as the day wore on the crowd would dwindle, so if I could comfortably and enjoyably run it in 4:30 that would be perfect.  All that mattered was that I ENJOY it.  Marathon Monday has been my favorite day for many years, plus a year and a half ago I had rediscovered the joy of running.  Then I lost it just as quickly.  For the past year running brought me back there, to that moment in my life where I was completely worthless - the very same moment where my help, *any* help, was critically needed.  How did I respond? I walked away.  When everything I held dear was attacked… I ran away. That is not who I want to be

I saw that day that Boston, and the marathon, would rebound.  With the support I received from others in the immediate aftermath, I figured I would as well.  It was just a matter of time… and of returning again next year.  After my day trip back to Boston early last May, my life returned to 'normal'.  Or at least I was functional again.  I was able to work and go about my daily life, but Boston consumed me.  Running wasn't the same.  Little things put me *there* again, even just the act of running made me think of it.  I ran slower, less frequently and had completely lost the joy of running.  I made myself run so that I would be in shape enough to enjoy Boston.  I knew that this was where I could reclaim that joy.  I just needed to be in good enough shape to enjoy this years race and I would return to 'normal'

All year my work suffered.  I have always said I love my job, but that I just wish I could get away from it a bit more.  My business was not just a job - it was a passion.  But no more.  Now it was something that got in the way of Boston.  I had failed to respond on April 15th, and I needed to respond.  That is my nature.  Somehow I had to make something positive out of my experience.  Nothing else mattered anymore

So, for a year my work suffered, my running suffered, my sanity suffered.  But it didn't matter.  The charity I had created would be worth it.  My short term suffering was well worth the long term gain for all those affected by the bombing.  So I pushed forward in any way I could.  OneRun was created to be a long term solution - for the inevitable time when most of the world has 'forgotten' about the Boston victims.  Unfortunately it seems that I miscalculated when that would be.  I thought I would have until after the next marathon, but even in the few short months it took me to get back on my feet so many had moved on.  I was on my own, but I desperately needed help.  This was a project too big for me to handle myself.  Even so, I was all alone

For a year I pumped time and money (that I certainly didn't have) into it.  There were several times where the funds required meant I didn't have them for my essentials, but it didn't matter.  It was worth it.  I needed to do this, nothing had ever been more important to me.  Time was running out, and I still hadn't gained any of the momentum I needed.  I needed to press forward

I tried everything to get OneRun, and myself, to be an official part of this years race.  But the BAA never responded to my communications - and I tried quite a few different ways to contact them.  To make matters worse I was denied an invitational entry for those "personally and profoundly effected" by the bombing.  467 of those who submitted essays were awarded these numbers… a seemingly arbitrary number which made it even more painful to be denied.  Apparently the effect the bombing had on me wasn't significant enough… or I was deliberately ignored.  Both of these were painful concepts, and coupled with the lack of response from my previous contacts really started to take a toll on me.  This was just the beginning of the end for me.  Shortly thereafter the BAA gave numbers to the One Fund to create a team of 50 runners, very similar to what I was trying to do with OneRun.  I applied, and was unsurprisingly denied.  The one year that being official meant something to me, it seemed I would once again be relegated to being a bandit.  But I would still push OneRun forward and try to raise funds for the victims

It would be like all the other years, or so I thought.  Then a BAA communication sent out to registered runners completely devastated me.  They were banning bandits… and from the terminology used in that letter they were going to be *very* strict about it. I had feared this from day one.  Security was used as an excuse to ban bandits and for the first time I faced the realization that I might not get the healing I needed

My blood pressure sky-rocketed when I read that letter.  The night I couldn't sleep and sadly it was the first of many such nights.  After last year, I had to run this year… at all costs.  And I had to do it my way - as the Red Bandit.  Doing anything else would have meant the terrorists won - they would have taken away  the most important thing to me.  So I resolved to run regardless, and prepared myself for what seemed to be a high probability that I would be arrested for being on the course as a bandit.  Clearly there was no way I could be a security threat… but it didn't matter.  Enforcement of ridiculous, unjust and arbitrary rules was basically a matter of whatever the police felt like doing.  Even if I was right, and not in violation of any law, they could still arrest me - preventing me from running the race as I desperately needed to do.  If and whether I would ever get the healing that I needed was clearly at the sole discretion of law enforcement.   My ongoing troubles with the questionable behaviors of the Miami Beach PD made this a very disturbing revelation. So I braced myself for the reality that I might not finish, and swore to myself I would do everything in my power to.  The possibilities this presented were disconcerting and over the next several months resulted in lots of lost sleep.  I just had to hope for compassionate cops

Life was hitting me hard from all angles.  I had lost the joy of running - which had previously been the best way for me to relieve stress.  Work, and thus financials were struggling.  I had even more commitments and obligations handling the needs of the charity.  Cycling was stressful and dangerous due to the all too common road rage in Miami (and cops who could careless about cyclist safety), and even my home life was no escape: I had neighbors intent on making my life difficult.  It's kind of amazing that I managed to keep any sanity

But it got worse, much worse.  At the time in my life when I really needed support most, I was completely alone.  No one understood the importance of running this years race and the degree to which that would affect my personal wellbeing.  They just saw the risk of arrest.  So suddenly I found myself where even my family and friends were telling me to back down, telling me that I shouldn't run.  I could just cheer the other runners on and be part of Bostons healing they told me.  There was always next year they said.  No one understood, and probably never will.  While all my other efforts with OneRun were aimed towards aiding others… this was the one and only thing was what I needed for my own personal healing.  Boston didn't need me to reclaim Marathon Monday, that would happen regardless. *I* needed to run to expel my own demons which had haunted me for a year, and to once again rediscover the joy of running.  But no one cared or understood what *I* needed.  I was on my own for better or (likely) worse.  I was most likely doomed

As the race drew closer I found myself in uncharted territory.  I've gotten used to worrying whether I was truly ready for the race, but in years past, deep down I always knew I would finish.  It was just the time, and level of discomfort during and after the race that were questionable.  This year was different.  The days leading up to the race didn't have the same feel.  Sadly I was already pretty close to breaking.  I knew it, and I knew the probability that the marathon would be my undoing.  This ended up being a self fulfilling prophesy… in the three days immediately before the race, I managed a mere six hours of sleep (zero the night before).  Running a marathon with that degree of sleep depravity certainly was asking for trouble.  A good run was my last hope, but the odds were not in my favor

I needed to run and I would, even if it was the last thing I did.  So I was off to the start, where they were indeed blocking bandits.  I masked it, so as not to scare my little group of runners, but at that point I was very apprehensive.  It seemed on this much anticipated day that my worst fears would be realized, and I dreaded the long term effect that would have on me.  But here at the start were two of the little blessings that have kept the last embers of hope in me from being extinguished

My brother had decided to run this year.  We would start the race together and theoretically I would finish well before him - but I was excited that he was going to get to experience Boston himself!  I kind of hoped I'd have enough juice left in me to cross the finish a second time with him.  We met up with a few new friends and got ready to run… if we could find a way in.  As the last wave of official runners were crossing the start we were in for a surprise.  A few more potential bandits had found us, seeking safety in numbers and we stood watching, waiting and wondering how we were going to get into the race.  Thats when a cop said to us: "Are you running this year?"  Ohhh boy it was about to get interesting.  It seemed I would learn very quickly if I was indeed going to be arrested!  But from the way he said it, it sounded like he recognized me from previous years… so I said that yes were were planning to.  This was the moment of truth

Thankfully, this police officer wasn't going to let the terrorists win.  Whether he recognized me or not, he recognized that we were not a threat, and he helped us.  He gave us some guidelines on how to stay out of trouble due to our 'status' and directed us onto the course a few minutes after the last official runners.   So our merry little band of bandits may have actually been the only Boston bandits this year to run from start to finish without using a fake number.  And we were off, with a parting "Hey Flash! Have fun!" from the officer.  I only wish the rest of the day had gone as well

So we ran, and for the first half everything was emotional, but normal.  As excited as I was to be out on the course and feeding off of the crowd energy, I found myself holding back tears almost the entire time.  Unfortunately, a few miles later things would go rapidly downhill for me.  Around mile 16, I started cramping up.  The whole lack of sleep and malnourishment thing hit me hard.  Suddenly joy was replaced by extreme pain, more-so than I have ever felt before.  Both in the marathon and in life I had hit my limit.  I was battered and broken, finally beaten down by the onslaught of lifes trials.   Over the final eight miles of the course I died a slow painful death, both physically and psychologically.  I had needed just one simple thing - to enjoy the run.  Instead I found pain, suffering and agony.  Thankfully, I also found a completely unexpected helping hand - without which I truly would have lost all hope that day

April 21st was a great day for many: certainly for the city of Boston, and the running community.  It was not for me.  A large part of me died on the course that day and ever since I've been in a dark place.  I've lost all joy in life and find myself wallowing in unproductivity and frustration.  My health has suffered, and I've been constantly sick.  I have no drive, no determination… nothing.  I left Boston in a far worse condition than I had arrived.  I arrived wounded, but determined, and bled out the last of my essence on that course.  All that remains are the ashes of who I once was, and will never again be

If I am ever to recover, it will take time, and it will rely heavily on the same thing that has gotten me through so many other trials: myself.  In the midst of those spent ashes of my being, a few embers still burn (thanks to that handful of folks previously mentioned).   While I can't claim to know when or how, I hope those few last sparks will reignite and from those ashen remains I will be reborn.  Sometimes it takes utter destruction before something better can be created.  I pray that is the case here. In the meantime, all that I ask of the world is not to talk to me about this years marathon.  Don't ask me about it, or tell me I should be proud I finished.  I could tell you why I'm not, but that is just adding salt to the wound.  Talking about, and hearing about this is rubbing my face in my failure, and stomping mercilessly on the last burning embers.  While everyone insists on reminding me of my pathetic collapse I will never recover.  I am broken; I am destroyed; I am nothing.  Still a faint glimmer of hope yet remains.  Please don't extinguish that on me