I am a runner and have been an active part of the Portland running community for several years. Beginning back in the mid 90's. I've run nearly 30 marathons in that time, along with various half marathons, relays, etc. I've qualified for Boston several times and have run it twice. I am a marathon coach and train runners to run the Portland Marathon and other races each summer. In June of 2013, I was living in Cleveland. One Saturday morning I was out for a run alone very early. I liked being out before the sun was up because there were rarely any people or traffic at that time of the day. It was about 6 AM, & I was close to the end of a 10 mile route which I always finished off with a sprint not far from my home. As I was coming to my finish, I noticed a group of about 5-6 young men hanging out near my stop point. I had never seen them before, and they were out of place at that time of the morning. There was no one else out, and I had seen very few cars even though this was a fairly busy area during the day. They saw me, and I had a bad feeling right away. So instead of continuing towards them, I decided to cut my route short and head for home instead. There is a small shopping complex there, so I began to slowly jog through the parking lot to my home, which was only a block away. I assumed I was alone and made a wise decision. However, shortly after I entered the lot I could sense I was not. I looked back to see 3 of them gaining on me quickly. They were only about 10 yards away, so I attempted to make a run for it, but I had just sprinted about 400m, and was already in a cool down. I wasn't able to match their speed, & they overtook me. The rest was a blur.
When I regained consciousness, I was lying on the concrete and could see a pair of shoes standing right in front of me. I wasn't sure what all had happened yet, but I could tell I had been beaten. I stayed still and just waited for the final blow. Instead, they turned and ran away. I laid there until I could no longer hear their footsteps and attempted to get up. As I got to my feet I could barely see, but felt that I had blood everywhere. Everything looked very fuzzy and my hearing was muffled. I checked my mouth & seemed to have all my teeth, so I thought maybe it wasn't too bad.
I continued to walk home when a small street cleaning truck stopped and asked me if I needed help. I said no, I was close to home. He said,"you need to go to a hospital, you look bad." When I got home I walked into my bathroom and saw myself for the first time in the mirror, and the man was right. I looked pretty bad. I couldn't see very well and I had a bloody gash on my forehead that I couldn't stop from bleeding. My son, who was about 20 years old at the time, just happened to be home from school visiting, so he helped me get in the car and we went to the ER. When I walked into admitting they had thought I had been in a car accident and had gone through the windshield.
Up to that point adrenaline had masked any pain, but once I was being examined, it started to come on. A big chunk of my forehead was gone, so that's why it wouldn't stop bleeding. My nose was broken, and both my eye sockets had been shattered. Which explained the double vision because my right eye had fallen out of place. I could not feel the left side of my face and I could barely open my mouth. I had no other injuries to my body, other than scraped knees and hands when I hit the ground. They focused their kicks on my face only. The eye surgeon on call that morning was actually a neighbor of mine, that lived one floor above me. She didn't even recognize me, until I told her who I was. It was quickly determined that I would need surgery to repair the damage and attempt to save my eyesight. They decided to send me home to see if there would be improvement over one day, then reassess my condition. By Monday, my vision in one eye had improved, but everything else remained the same. It all hurt a lot and I looked gruesome. I wore a ball cap low to cover my face, but it did little good. The bruising was really bad & my entire face was swollen. Thursday I was re-examined, and surgery was performed early Friday morning. My sight was restored, and although I could still not feel my face, I was able to eat solid food again.
For the next 6-7 weeks I rarely left my apartment. My injuries were just too hideous for people to look at. Little kids would point at me and say "mom look at that guy." So I became a recluse until my color got closer to normal & the swelling subsided. For several weeks and months after I needed to apply makeup to my wounds to go out in public. I finally took off my cap about that time too.
All in all, over the last few years my injuries have healed. The scar on my forehead is barely noticeable now, and I no longer feel the steel plates that were inserted to hold my face together & my eyes in place. The plates are mine forever now. You wouldn't know anything had happened to me if we were to meet. Inside though, it still lingers and it does come back to me every so often. It is something that I'll probably deal with for the rest of my life. I feel blessed to be alive, and I have to be thankful for that. I've moved back to Portland about a year later, and that has been a big help in my recovery.
Before this all happened I was concerned about safety, but always thought that no one was going to mess with me. I'm slight, but a fairly big guy and minded my own business. Why would anyone attack me? Women are always the target anyway. So I got a rude awakening and determined that men are just as vulnerable to attacks too. I think most guys think like I did. That macho thing that we seemed to carry with us as athletes. We don't think anything can happen like that to us.
Since that time I've been hyper aware of safety and caution my runners to be aware of their surroundings. I don't want anyone else to go through what happened to me. I rarely tell my story, but if I can make people aware of the dangers that lurk out there for men too, I'll gladly tell it.
When I heard about run angel I thought that maybe it could have saved me that morning. If I could have just pressed a button and sounded an alarm, they may have ran off before laying a hand on me. I feel the product could be a great service to many and hope my story brings awareness on the importance in running safe.
(Dave Garbot contacted us after hearing about run angel from a fellow runner. We thank him sincerely for writing this piece and allowing for us to publish it on runangel.com)
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