Ronan. I might be awesome. I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. and thought to myself, “I’m running this marathon today. It’s going to be easy.” I showered, dressed, tucked a baggie full of your ashes, inside my little carrying belt and woke up your daddy and brothers, to drop me off. I had your daddy take a sharpie and write your name all over me as well as Ava’s and our little dragon friend, too. Because you are all worth fighting for. They dropped me off at Balboa Park and off I went, alone, to wait for my race to start. While I was waiting, I sat in the grass, took my sharpie and wrote some more things on my legs like, “Fuck Cancer.” I had some girl come over to ask if I would write on her too, so I did. I put her friend, Christy’s name on her arm, her mom’s and then I asked her if she wanted your name on there as well. She said she would love that so I wrote “RONAN,” in huge letters on her arm. She told me she was only doing the half marathon and thought it was awesome that I was doing the full. She asked how long I had trained for and I told her I hadn’t trained at all. She looked at me like I had 3 heads and said, “What?! That’s crazy!” I just smiled and told her I knew. The funny thing was, I wasn’t nervous at all. I hadn’t set any expectations for myself except for I just wanted to finish, and have fun. I secretly in my head had thought to myself that I would like to finish in 5 hours, but I didn’t put a ton of pressure on myself about it.
I got to my corral and before I knew it, we were off and running. I was running, running, running. My pace felt good and I felt relaxed and almost as this was a little too easy which did not make any sense because I really have not been running at all. I kept my mind focused on you most of the time with bursts here and there of everyone who I knew, that was rooting for me. That made me smile and pushed me to run harder. Heather and Sam were waiting for me around mile 9 which I loved. Heather was all dressed up in some crazy purple outfit and they had about 20 purple star balloons for me. I carried those balloons for about 3 miles. People kept yelling at me that the balloons were slowing down my pace and to let them go. I didn’t care. They made me smile. I kept holding on to them until I found a little kid on the side of the road, to give them to. He was so excited and it made my day, to make his.
I think the first half of the marathon, I totally kicked butt. I do remember thinking around mile 10, “Shit, how am I really going to run this whole thing?” I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind which wasn’t hard when I remembered the reason that I was running. For you and all the other kids out there dying from or fighting this disease. I thought about you and all that you put up with. The surgeries, the chemo, the broviac dressing changes, the bone aspirations, the radiation, the traveling back and forth, and being torn out of your perfect little 3-year-old world and transformed into hell, in the blink of an eye. That was the only reminder I needed to shut the “oh my god this hurts,” voices off in my head. I knew that nothing was going to stop me. I hit the halfway mark and started to have a lot of fun. There are P.F. Changs photographers everywhere, I ran past one of them, flipped him off and he yelled out back to me, “HAHA, hey fuck you!” He was cracking up, which made me crack up. I yelled back at him, “That was to cancer!” He yelled back, “I like your style, Rockstar Ronan!” This got me to mile 16 and by this time, my left toes were numb and hurting. I looked down and the entire front of my left shoe was covered in blood. I pulled over, took off my shoe to reveal bloody toes galore. Ouch. I quickly decided there was nothing I could do about this, so I just put my sock and shoe back on to continue on running. I was in a lot of pain so I walked when I needed to. I had a dance party in someones front lawn. I drank a beer around mile 19. Some kids had a table set up outside their house, with cups of beer in it. Why the heck not, I thought and I chugged it. It made me laugh and think of you and how you used to love to sip on your daddy’s beers. Somebody else was passing out Otter Pops. This may have saved my life! Never has an Otter Pop tasted so good! I think I had about 3 of them, also while thinking about you as this was one of the last things that I fed you. I maybe got a little emotional at one point, but I pushed my tears aside because my sadness turned to anger which pushed me to keep running. I saw Heather and Sam again and they covered me in silly string. I stopped to talk to them for about 5 minutes. I wasn’t really concerned with my time as the fun of it all, made me care less. Around mile 20 Becca and Holly were screaming for me. I stopped to talk to them for a while, too. They asked how I was, I yelled, “This is easy! Fuck cancer!” They both looked like their eyes were going to pop out of their heads. They told me they were expecting me to be hurting and hardly walking. They were expecting to see a whole different Maya then the one who was smiling back at them. After I finished chatting with them, I ran off to finish my last 6 miles. The last six, were the hardest. I walked a lot. My left foot, was throbbing and I was limping. I had no clue of my time but I was thinking I was well past the 5 hour mark. I walked for about 2 miles, then once I knew I only had a couple more miles to do, I started to run again, but my running only lasted for bits here and there. The last mile I powered through and ran as fast as I could with my bloody and blistered toes, telling me to stop. I didn’t listen. There was no way I was walking through that finish line.
Your daddy and brothers were waiting for me. I started to tear up for a few reasons. One being because I was so happy to see them, but I was so sad that you were not waiting at the finish line for me, like you should have been. A mix of emotions, filled me. Happiness, sadness, excitement, disappointment, anger, and relief. I also felt pretty proud of myself. I looked at your daddy and said, “Worst time ever, right? That had to be well over 5 hours.” He goes, “No way. You finished at 4:51. That is a great time, for not having trained at all.” I smiled. “Really?! No way!” I could not believe my time was under 5 hours. I totally winged this marathon, stopped a bunch of times to just hang out/take it easy/drink a beer/eat some oranges/pound some Gatorades/have a dance party in some random persons yard. I didn’t take anything about this marathon seriously except for the reason I was doing it and the reason I was going to finish it. I had a BLAST. When I trained for the New York one, my time was 4:27. If I wouldn’t have spent all that time, goofing off for this one, I would have beaten my old time! But I think that would have taken the fun out of it for me. I think I will always do marathons this way, for the rest of my life. No training. Just enjoying the experience of it without any expectations or build up. After I ran the NYC one, I said I would never do another one again because I was so burnt out. After running this marathon, I am so ready to do another one! What a difference a good attitude and a little perspective can make in one’s life. This right here is proof that it really just is mind over matter. If you want something badly enough, and you have a big enough reason to go after it with all that you’ve got, anything is achievable. ANYTHING.
So today, I am sore. But not as sore as I thought I would be. Today, I am filled with a proudness within myself, that I have not felt for a while. I know you were there, with me yesterday, pushing me when I needed to be pushed, but also reminding me to have fun. I felt your spirit filling me throughout the day, whenever I would laugh, giggle, or do something a little naughty like flip off the photogs. I ran that marathon for you and all the other kids who won’t ever be able to run a marathon because they were cheated by cancer and death. I’m so sorry for that. The only thing that would have made this better, would have been you waiting at the finish line, for me. Your brothers and daddy looked so proud. I know you are proud too. That’s all I want in life, besides a cure for that asshole called Neuroblastoma; is for you to be proud. I think you were yesterday. I think this is why I know I am going to do amazing things for you in life. Just to make you proud. I promise you this.
I miss you, I love you, I hope you are safe. Thank you to everyone who helped support me with this little crazy idea of mine that turned out to be something amazing where our goal was achieved. I will be talking to Scott from Solving Kids’ Cancer tomorrow or Wednesday and we are going to get the show on the road to fund Dr. Mosse’s trial as enough money was raised. This was also for her. For her dignity, grace, braveness, and compassion that she fights for every single day in doing the work that she is does. I am thrilled to be able to support her. Love you, all. Thank you, again. None of this would have been possible, without you.
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