Wednesday, January 21, 2004

So that’s it, my six-month journey has come to an end and I’m wrapping things up. I hope you all enjoyed this little journal. I hope it has given you a little insight into what it’s like for a regular type family to cope with Cystic Fibrosis. We’re not rich or famous. We’re just people. And we get by a day at a time.

What does 2004 hold for us Malchus’? Budd and Karyn had a baby girl on January 19th (Megan Elizabeth). That will surely cause some new excitement. Sophie just turned 5. 5!!! How did that happen? Jules and I celebrated our 10th (!) anniversary on Dec. 30th and will have been California citizens for 10 years any day now. We didn’t get each other fancy gifts; we couldn’t afford it (maybe for 15 years?). I believe I am going to have to find a new job soon. As much as I love it at Klasky Csupo, it just doesn’t pay enough to support the family. Then again, something miraculous might happen with “King’s Highway.”

Oh, and Rebecca has asked me to help with the committee for that CF Marathon in December. I have no choice but to run it now… and maybe I’ll start a new journal once we get things up and running (pun intended).

This entire experience has opened my eyes so much and shown me that it really is human nature for people to want to help out their fellow man. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to raise $11,700 again (especially if so many of my friends and family run the CF Marathon), but I will put forth my best effort. To all of you who contributed, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And to those of you who couldn’t at this time, I hope you will find it in your hearts to help fight Cystic Fibrosis in the very near future.

To everyone, I ask you to pray, or meditate, or rub your crystals or rabbit’s feet, or whatever you do to send out good vibes so that someday we’ll see an end to Cystic Fibrosis. I ask this not just for Jacob, but also for all of those people who are inflicted with the disease.

I’ll end with this:

I try to be a good man, a good father, and a good husband. I don’t always succeed. Despite my shortcomings, I am blessed to have two wonderful children who lift me up when I am down. Sophie is an old soul at age 5 and pure heart, and Jacob is the most loving, funny, pure little boy I have ever known. Both of these kids have been through so much in such a short time of their lives. They are strong and an inspiration to me. And then there is my darling wife, Julie. I don’t know a greater, more loving and forgiving woman than Jules. She is the rock and foundation of our family, and she in my true soul mate. Withou8t her I am nothing.

That’s all from me. I hope you all enjoyed the journal. Until we speak or meet again…

Thank you, God bless, and of course…


All the best,


The night after the marathon, our team (CF and City of Hope) gathered at the hotel bar to commiserate about the race. Limping in with aching limbs, I expected to hear about the great accomplishments of the day. To my surprise, everyone instead shared his or her horror stories about miles 20-24. It was as if every runner hit a wall… a universal feeling of pain and agony (well, not entirely universal, the winning runner finished the marathon in 2 hours and 11 minutes). I also learned that the Honolulu marathon is one of the most difficult races to run. Having heard all of this, I someone, insanely, decided I would run at least one more marathon. I mean, how hard could it be a second time?

Actually, Rebecca informed me that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is going to sponsor a marathon in Malibu, CA this coming December (2004). I thought I should show up and run the inaugural event. Plus, you know, I want to really find out if I can perform better by really taking control of those factors I have control of (i.e. diet, medicine) and whether the weather can work in my favor this time (because Malibu won’t be nearly as hot or humid as Hawaii).

Right here and now, I’m setting my goal at 5:35. That’s four minutes off of my Honolulu time. That’s a lot. I better get training!

The rest of our stay in Hawaii was spectacular. We had so much fun we didn’t want to leave. I think it had something to do with facing the reality of our lives. Paradise is just so alluring. It was such a different vacation than anything we’d ever been on. I love being around all of our relatives, but there’s something to be said about not having any obligations (or feelings of guilt for not calling so and so) and just enjoying being a family and being with each other. Still, we had to get back to Los Angeles; Santa Claus was due to arrive soon after we got back.

The holidays have come and gone and I hope to begin running soon. I decided to take the rest of December off just to get through that season rested. I’ve run once since the end of December. I’m anxious to get back into some sort of groove. Soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Marathon

At 3:15 am in the morning the day of the race, I woke up and ate a bowl of cereal. Somehow I was able to sleep the night before. I put on my headphones and set the MP3 player to "The Rising", Springsteen had gotten me through the entire training period and I was ready for some inspiration. I wrote the following:

Got up 15 minutes ago. Rather, I finally got out of bed. Slept well for at least four hours, maybe more. The last hour was very restless. I think I woke up every 10 minutes. Jules left me an inspiring note that I'll carry with me. I can't believe I'm actually doing this. I'm excited and just a bit anxious. But I know I'll finish. Those last six miles are for Jake. This is why I'm here-- to rep CF and raise awareness. By now it's sounding a bit like an old line to a fine routine, but I feel that in my heart.

The journey here has been worth it. Now, let's hope I complete this Odyssey with some grace.

P.S. If I never drink another glass of water...

I met up with my team at 3:45 and we all walked over to the starting line. I can't begin to describe the vibe we all got as we joined this mass of human bodies. Over 20,000 people inching their way to the beginning of the line. Robert led us up to the middle of the pack. I had decided to run with Sebastian and Lilith. The 4/2 and eventual 5/2 was my goal, and I felt like I could keep up with them for the duration of the race.

Just before 5:00 am, the ceremonies began. Someone sang the National Anthem. I have no idea where this person was standing because I was so far back. Them fire works lit up the dark morning sky and the race officially began. It would be another 20 minutes before we crossed the starting line.

The race broke down into different sections for me...

Miles 1~8:Started off strong. We seemed to be making excellent time and had a very nice pace. There was no sunlight, which actually made for excellent running weather. It was already feeling muggy even that early in the morning. I remember passing a couple of drunk women making their way home from the bars and trying to make a call on a cell phone. As we ran through downtown Honolulu, the Christmas light displays were all lit up. It was a remarkable thing to see and I kept it in the back of my mind as something we could take the kids to see later in the week. As we crossed through downtown, we also passed by some open bars. People stood on the street corners cheering us on with beers in their hands.

In the distance, Diamond Head loomed. I was worried about what kind of hill this was going to be. Robert had assured us that our training in Pasadena prepared us fully. I prayed he was right.

Miles 8~10:We take on Diamond Head for the first time. I can't believe it, but it's not that bad. At one point, we see one of the wheelchair racers pace us on their way back to the finish line. As we reached the peak, the sun broke through the clouds, rising into the sky. I could only think of one thing. "Little darling, here comes the sun..." Budd was with me after all. He always says that song reminds him of Jake. Coming down the hill, I twisted my ankle. It wouldn't be a long run if I didn't twist my damn ankle. There wasn't much pain.

My running companions were great. They really kept me going. Lillith cracked me up because she was all business. "Let’s get this thing done", seemed to be her mantra.

Miles 11~13: My legs began to ache as the sun began bringing on the heat. I popped my Advil and hoped it would ease the pain. I saw Jen Mundy for about 10 minutes and we ran together. Poor Jen was in a lot of pain and didn't know whether she was going to make it (she did). After those 10 minutes she told me to take off. Falling back with her threw me off the pace of Sebastian and Lillith and they began running about a 200 yards ahead of me between walk breaks. God bless them for waiting for me several times until I told them to stop waiting for me and go by their own pace. We reached the half marathon marker in a little over 2 hours. I felt good about that because we seemed on pace for what we accomplished the day we ran the 20 miles. Still, my legs were really bugging me and I had eaten too much pasta the night before. My stomach was cramping up. On top of that, I did something you should never do and altered my running routine by drinking some of the sports drink being handed out. The sugars in the drink messed with my stomach too.

However, I have to say that I felt a little relief when my companions disappeared. I didn't feel as much pressure to run harder. I was going to tackle this thing on my own.

Miles 14~17: At my own pace, I realized one thing that would stick with me the rest of the marathon: I may have been running by myself, but I wasn't running alone. There were so many people that I sort of fell into a pack that had its own ebb and flow. Things started to get rough by mile 16. I had to take longer walk breaks (even ignoring my watching for a couple of minutes) and my stomach really began to bother me with the cramps. It wasn't anything like that day I was running up here in Valencia, but that fear was ever present. The last thing I wanted to do was get caught in someone's front yard and.... Thank god it never came to that. The sun was now BEATING down on us (at least, that's what it felt like to me) and my feet really began to swell up. I thought that pouring water on them might alleviate some of the pain. It only made my feet heavy. Boy, what a mistake.

Miles 18~20: Miserable. That's the only way to describe how I felt. I began running about a 2/2. I say about because I wasn't being scientific or anything. And really, come on now, can you really call what I was doing running? But I push on. Then, something wonderful happened that would carry me through the rest of the race.

Halfway through mile 20 I see Robert waiting for me over to the right. He had that supportive, enthusiastic smile he always seemed to be wearing. I couldn't help but laugh. He joined me in my "pace" and told me that he's seen Sebastian and Lillith up ahead. They told him I had fallen back. So, he called my cell phone thinking I might have it on me. Instead, He got Julie and had to explain that I was no longer running with my two friends. Then, he whipped out his phone and called her again.

I was miserable. My feet hurt. My stomach was bothering me. But hearing Julie's voice and the love and support that was coming through that tiny phone receiver... I tell you what; I knew I was going to finish this damn marathon, no matter what. I suddenly had a moral boost that would carry me to the end.

Miles 21~23: Running with Robert, we started with a 3/2, but the cramps were bad (and I started thinking about the movie "Raising Arizona" and the opening scene where a male inmate says "Sometimes I get the cramps real bad."--- My mind was warped by the sun). We switched to a 2/2. Robert was definitely stronger than I was. His pace was faster. But I kept up. He must have known I was in pain, but he distracted me with conversation about how long Julie and I have been married, when he's going to get to see "King's Highway", and about a script he's been working on. He's a great coach in that he reads the moment and tries to make it easier for you. At mile 23 he held back and decided to wait for some other runners. I was a little disappointed not to have a running partner (because it made a HUGE difference), but a bit relieved not to have to keep- his pace.

Miles 24~25: Man, I was really hurting. I could barely run. Fortunately, I had my name written on the side of my arm, and people were calling it out, cheering me on. I was marveled at the outpouring of support by all of the people who came out of their houses. Some families brought out their own water to hand out to runners. And then there were those folks who were handing out beer, as well. Ohhhh, the beer sounded so tempting.

I ran out of trail mix and I started to get hunger pains. A volunteer from the Leukemia society was handing out pretzels and I grabbed a handful. This part of the run was the return up Diamond Head. Remember how I said it was so easy the first time. PURE HELL. The gradual torture of the sun blaring on us and there being no shade, and it was a slow, gradual incline, which played, oh, such nice mind tricks on you. Thoughts of not finishing crossed my mind for the first time and I almost cried. I kept on humming "Come on up for the rising...."

At 25, I began the decent down Diamond Head. "You're almost done, "someone shouted", it's all down hill from here". I couldn't even enjoy this thought. I just wanted it to be over. And yet, making it though those last three miles was quite an achievement. Each and every time I stopped to walk, I'd be muttering, "Oh, I'm never going to make it." And then low and behold, there was the mile marker.

At this point I had been running over 5 hours.

25~the end: I stuck with the 2/2 and didn't care how pathetic I looked. As I approached the end, the crowd was getting larger and the buzz and cheering pulled me through. I decide that I had just enough dignity left that I wasn't going to stop and walk once I reached the crowd and that lat quarter mile or so.

Then, about 200 yards from the end, I found Julie, Sophie and Jacob standing on the sidelines. I ran over and kissed them. As far as I was concerned, I was done. But I ran off with my arms raised and a slight grin and crossed the finish line.

After receiving a shell lai necklace, I collapsed to the ground and waited. Somehow, Julie and the kids found me. It was over. And the first thing I thought was "I will NEVER do this again.”

Sunday, January 11, 2004

We've just returned from Cleveland where we were attending the funeral of Julie's grandmother, Vera Flynn. I had originally planned to return Wednesday, the day of the funeral, but changed my mind that day when I felt like I should stay and spend more time with the family. I'm glad I stayed.

Although the purpose of our trip wasn't the happiest reason to fly into bitter cold Cleveland weather, seeing everyone gathered together and getting a chance to be together made it worth it.

I will conclude everything this week.


Saturday, January 03, 2004

The Hawaii Trip--- Pt. 1

There are things you learn when going on a long trip, like, not having enough pairs of boxers to get you through a week. Who knew? Fortunately, we would be spending most of our time in bathing swimsuits, so it wasn't a big problem. And when we discovered that our condo in Waikiki had a washer and dryer, the problem became moot.


That's how I felt Friday, December 12 after arriving in Hawaii. We got out of bed at 3:45 am, not that I ever went to sleep. After missing a flight a couple of years ago and having to wait for the next available flight (ugh, what an experience

that was... and I swore we'd never take another morning flight) I never sleep well the night before a flight across the country, or in this case the ocean.

We got to Oahu fine. It was not too hot, but the humidity was quite noticeable. It reminded me of Ohio in the early months of summer: sweaty but not unbearable. All of us were pretty whipped. The kids were troopers, though. They should have cracked by midday, but both Sophie and Jacob maintained a cool excitement being in a glorious tropical paradise.

And even though Honolulu is a pretty busy city (a lot like Los Angeles), it was still wonderful to be able to look out our balcony and see/hear the waves of the bluest ocean you've ever seen.

Sophie, God bless her soul, had enough energy to keep us all running. I could feel myself on a short fuse. Nerves and exhaustion. Thank God Jules was so levelheaded. Being in Hawaii for just one day had such a great effect on us. Julie was glowing. The one thing I was really looking forward to that Friday night was it being Monday morning and beginning the vacation. I really wanted to spend time with the family... with just being "us" for a change and not worrying about reality for a week.

After a refreshing, long good night's sleep that night, we all woke up excited on Saturday about our second full day in Hawaii. I took a quick, 30 minute run through the parks by our hotel and boy was I happy I did that. My legs were plenty tight after the plane ride and I hate going into a long run with more than one day between exercising.

From there, we went to the beach for a while. It wasn't too crowded, even with all of the tourists in town for the marathon. Turns out the Honolulu Marathon is one of the big attractions each year. And with 22,000 entrants, you can see why. Still, the shoreline by our hotel was pretty small, so it seemed like there were more people than there actually were. Nevertheless, the time was a nice introduction to the sand and warm waters of Oahu.

The weather flip-flopped the entire day, from overcast to sunny. It had rained Friday night (would it rain on us Sunday as well?) and man was it WINDY! I'll tell you what; the water can be pretty frigid with that wind. After lunch we took in the pool at the hotel next door. I think we were sneaking in (don't tell anyone) but it's not like they had the pool police keeping a look out. I mean, we really looked like we belonged in that ice-cold freezing water shivering. On top of that, there was an expo taking place outside the pool for all of the marathoners. I would later get a marathon souvenir shirt.

We had dinner with the Mundy family. Jennifer is Julie's friend who ran for AIDS Project LA. Here husband Scott and her have 2 children. We all went out for dinner and ate plates of spaghetti. My second plate that day. I figured I could use all of the carbs I could get. Before dinner I met up with Rebecca, Beth, Robert and the three other Team CF Runners who had trained with Robert. It was nice to meet these other runners, one of which was from the Sacramento office of the CF Foundation. His name is Pete Tucker. Rebecca and Pete both thanked everyone for running to raise funds for CF. IĆ¢€™m not sure what the others' stories were. Part of me wanted to say "thank you" as well, but I held back.

We made arrangements to meet up on Sunday morning... marathon day, at 3:45 am and walk over to the starting line. I decided to run with Sebastian and Lillith from the City of Hope team while Beth would be running with Lucy, another member of our training group.

The best part of the day was when Sophie and Jake came out of the bedroom modeling t-shirts Julie had made. Each shirt had an individual picture of me with each of them printed on them. Sophie's shirt read "Daddy's Cheerleader" on the front and "Team CF on the back." Jake's read "My Daddy. My Hero" and "Team CF" on the back.

I nearly cried.

Somehow I got to sleep that night by 8:30. I was excited, anxious, and ready to test myself physically like I had never done before. This was it. Six months was going to come down to one morning...

More tomorrow.

Here it is, January 2nd and I'm finally returning from hibernation. While we continue to clean the house for the second time in as many days in preparation for Sophie's birthday party on Sunday (can she really be turning five? How did that happen?), I want to begin my final entries for this journal, starting with some details about our trip to Hawaii. And since me will more than likely be flying to Cleveland in the next couple of days for a funeral, I'm not sure when I will get back on the computer.

Most of my reflections on the trip to the marathon come from notes I took while we were there...