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Love on the Run at the Portland Marathon 2012

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Honesty is all it would have took. Had Jakob told me the truth about his life I would have said yes to cheer him on at the 2012 Portland Marathon on October 7. In a world full of social media and Google, lying about your job and education is just not smart. All it takes is a post on a LinkedIn Alumni group asking if anyone remembers going to class with you to confirm academic credentials. This is not an article to criticize what Jakob did or didn’t do. It is to highlight the truth that actually would have outshined any salary, wage, or degree in many peoples’ eyes.

I’ve written about Jakob before. When we met this past spring I had a cliché moment because he felt like a breath of fresh air. He was a college athlete who stayed active, handsome, and at first, appeared to have a kind heart. Jakob loved MMA, mud runs, and the outdoors after being raised in Washington State and having lived in Portland before moving to Northern California. For a very brief moment it appeared that this mud runner could have been a love run, such as the song “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. We were total opposites but for me there was something initially comforting about him.

Jakob had run the Portland Marathon before. Except this time he was doing so while undergoing thyroid cancer and surgery. For a man who had been athletically gifted most of his life Jakob continued to train and run 20 miles a day before and after having his thyroid removed and undergoing post-operative radiation. What made him attractive most to me was this commitment and refusal to back out of something that was clearly important to him. All the whole Jakob was dealing with the stress of an illness that hit him in his prime. He was only 28 when a chance discovery of a lump in his throat threw his health into chaos. Despite no family history of cancer it was his second brush with the illness. He had already survived skin cancer in his early 20’s and now it was his thyroid, the most important organ in the body.

Maybe it was my own fault for allowing myself to open my heart so easily and like an innocent girl openly and so honestly tell Jakob why I seemed to only have eyes for him. I guess we all have to be fools a few times in love in this life. Or perhaps my affections were just too impatient to wait for the real thing. When I moved to California from the East in 2008 my life for the last four years consisted to a lot of work, a lot of graduate school, and a focus on making new friends and connections as I settled into life on the West Coast. By the time Jakob appeared out of the blue in my life I was unconsciously wanting to “Dance Again” in the lyrics of Jennifer Lopez. Before I knew it all I could really ever say to him were variation of “I’m Into You”, a little too much. It was just really nice to hear a man tell me that he liked me a lot, wanted to touch and kiss me, that he appreciated my intelligence, and that I was different in the way that attracted him. Now, I have no idea if it was true on his part.

For whatever reason Jakob never realized that it was his talk about his training and dedication to participating and completing the Portland Marathon that made me really like him. Instead he embellished having a graduate degree he didn’t have and described a job that was nothing like his actual one. To be compassionate towards him, the illness wasn’t easy. This was a man who had been the Washington State wrestling champion in 2001 when he was barely 18, who had wrestled for Portland State during college, and before his thyroid cancer could boast a muscular strong physique without much effort. Naturally he was effortlessly handsome even if he didn’t realize just how much. If I were in his shoes I would have felt that my identity was somehow being ripped from me. That kind of experience would have had me isolating myself in my room instead of pushing my physical limits in the face of a serious medical crisis. Jakob had the discipline to wake up early every day and keep up his training. He didn’t give up.

I no longer am in contact with him. I just stopped speaking to him and him with me one day. There was something he was hiding and whatever it was made me uncomfortable and mistrustful. My friends and co-workers also echoed suspicions about his story. So while he ran to prepare for his race he also ran from me as my conversations with him turned into interrogations. I ran from him too. All I know he that he continued his regime and will finish his race in Portland on October 7. Despite his deception towards me I only wish him the best of luck at the marathon. In my humble opinion it was his looking forward to the Portland Marathon that seemed to emotionally get him through his cancer. He had something to look to the future towards. Maybe it even was the very thing that may help him heal for many more marathons to come. There is an odd gratitude that I feel for Jakob now. He made my heart dance again and in that, it is open once more to the real thing.

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