I have to admit it

in Black Toenail Chronicles by

I’ve been holding onto something for weeks that I haven’t been able to admit to myself.

There’s really no other option at this point, I need to face up to my reality.

On November 5th, for the first time in 10 years, I will not line up at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island and participate in the 26.2 mile party that ends at Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

I hate it, but I am not running the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon.

And it’s not just the back issue I’ve been dealing with since February . . . okay, part of it is. But despite the injury, I think I was on track to actually make it happen.

So What Happened?

What happened is that life just got in the way. I’d like to blame it on my day job, but that’s only part of the problem. In late August, the organization I work for made the deliberate decision to go to Houston and run animal rescues and transports for pets that were caught up or affected by Hurricane Harvey. And I being the director of PR for said organization, headed down to Texas for two weeks to be the public information officer for our efforts.

Easy peasy, you’d think, right? Well, you’d be wrong. It was 14 endless days that started before dawn and lasted way past midnight. Two weeks was about all I and my family could take and we started rotating my crazy talented team through one week hitches on site. Anyway, long story longer, working all those hours meant no running. At the most crucial time for marathon training. Add to the fact that it didn’t slow down for me when I got home – I just had the added benefit of taking care of my family as well.

So, between work, my back, lack of training . . . the math is pretty clear.

Why Is This A Problem

It’s just another race, right? I mean, why would not running your hometown marathon be such a big deal? Well, I’ll tell you.

See, back in August of 2006 I made a huge change in my life. I stopped drinking and doing drugs, stopped eating poorly and started becoming the person I always wanted to be but was never able to be because of what I was doing to myself. By December I quit smoking cigarettes and got on the bike – which I hadn’t really been on since I rode it across Alaska back in 2001 (which is another story entirely).

So after being on the bike for a while, I found running and really fell in love. And I started to define myself by running. Like, if I wasn’t a runner, what was I?

And that’s where I’m struggling now.

If I’m not running the race, does that mean I’m reverting back to the person I was prior to August of 2006? The rational answer to that is a firm no. One day at a time, I will not become the person below again (and no, it’s not just that the camera caught me with my eyes closed, that’s what I looked like 24/7).

But, somewhere in the recesses of my brain is that little voice that seems to be so loud, it’s the only one I hear.

And what of my website? And my videos? How can I be an authentic voice of running if I’m not, well, running?

I need to keep reminding myself that an injury or a set back doesn’t mean that I’m never going to participate in a race again.

So What Now?

I’m still going to be handing out bibs at the Expo on Friday and running the 5K the day before the big dance. And I have some ideas for a video to make on race day. And of course, I’ll be on the sidelines cheering my brains out all day.

My plan is to get my body healthy, train my a$$ off.

And make some serious noise in 2018.



  1. Keep your head up Eric! I just want to thank you for a sharing your story. It is similar to my own and I find your videos and posts very helpful and inspirational. I quit smoking and doing drugs a couple of years ago and I am lucky to have found running as a new hobby that I love. I am not where I want to be fitness wise yet but I’m on the right track. Your blog and website has been very helpful and I appreciate it. All the best to you and your family. Good luck in 2018 !!

  2. I’ll make sure to grab my bib and a handshake from u on Friday. I’ll be volunteering 1-5 shift.
    PS. I made it on ur video at the 5K last yr. made my day.

  3. It happens very easily. Last year I was doing the Dopey Challenge (5K,10K,1/2,full – 4days) at Disney for the second time. I realized the morning of the marathon that I had really only trained for a half marathon due to all kinds of life issues. I ran for 13.1 miles and then walked the rest of the way. Thanks so much for all of the valuable information about the NYC Marathon. I’m doing it for the first time at 77 years old and am really psyched, mostly because of all of your information and enthusiasm. I’m sure you’ll be back.

  4. Whether you run this one race this year or not is irrelevant to the person you’ve become and to the positive force you are in our running community. The fact that you’re not running but will still be there simply to support speaks volumes. You should listen to that instead of any self-doubt you may have.

    On a second note, life gets in the way sometimes and it’s important to accept it when it does. This is something every single runner has or will experience just before a big race. You’re more of an inspirational runner having the foresight to not run than you would be if you did and got injured.

    Be easy on yourself and have fun with me on the sidelines because I too am not running this year and I can sure relate to the FOMO!

  5. Eric, so sorry to read this but this is clearly the right decision. You know how much you have inspired me. It will be a privilege to see you at the Expo and the Dash. You have inspired so many. This decision doesn’t diminish you as a runner or as a man. It confirms that you are human and only serves to emphasise what a shining example you have become. Thanks for all that you do. See you soon!

  6. So sad to read this, but of course you’ve made the right decision for you and your body. Thank you for all your posts, the info has been invaluable to me while training for the marathon, and the borough races for that matter. Hope to meet you at the expo or the 5K on Saturday!

  7. Thank you so much! Your website, your stories, your contributions really moved me! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2018!

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