To run a marathon

I took a bus to the actual starting line and warmed up. I had this super-excited feeling. Seeing all those people around you—the line for the bathroom was like 50 deep—was really intense. It was just super-exhilarating that you're part of this huge crowd about to do this pretty incredible event.

The weather was perfect, about 77 degrees. It was a great day to run.

I did the whole marathon by myself—no running buddy. At one point though, I met this guy from Iowa and just started chatting with him. We were going at about the same pace so I stuck with him for four or five miles and we just talked and then I took off.

Running the marathon, it's almost a surreal feeling. You get to a certain point where you don't actually feel like you're running anymore.

It's kind of like mind-body disassociation: you're just kind of cruising along in your own mind but your body is just...just going.

At about 23 miles I hit the "wall." I felt my body slow down and I started to feel the lactic acid in my muscles.

You know, you want to go faster and you're telling your legs to go faster but they don't respond to your mind's requests.

You're just kind of cruising along and you know you just have to finish and your legs just keep turning over in this way in which you don't exactly know how they're doing it, but you know if you stop they're not going to do it anymore. So you just have to keep running until you finish.

Coming down the final stretch you pick up your pace. You see all the people. You see the finish line. You wonder what your time is. Mostly though you just want to run as fast as you can to that finish line and get the pain over with. Because it definitely hurts after 26 miles.

After the marathon, I had to go meet my parents but the place where you can meet people is three and a half blocks from the finish line. You know, the way they have set it up, it is the very cruelest thing ever, basically.

You run 26 miles and then you stop and your legs just shut down on you.

Then you have to walk three and a half blocks to get to the place where you can meet people. It's the longest three and a half blocks ever. I struggled to walk those blocks.

When I got to the meeting place, I tried to sit down but my quads were so tight I couldn't actually bend over to sit down. So I just stood there for a while and then gradually eased myself to the ground.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel, ate dinner with my parents and wrote a paper that night. It was on political philosophy and it was worst paper I've ever written.

The thing is, anyone can run the marathon. You've just got to put your mind to it. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you can totally do it if it's of interest to you.

Truthfully though, running the marathon, it's not that big of a deal.

—Oliver Cunningham '08 as told to Joshua Miller.

To find a man murdered

You know, I've never had any close calls with technical stuff, with scientific stuff. I've never had any problems running low on air. I've witnessed stuff like that, where they have been problems with people in the water with me, but I've never been a victim of those kinds of problems myself.

I've been in the water when some guy ran out of air. It wasn't a big deal though because the diving instructor gave him his spare hose—you always have two hoses on them at all times.

One of the scariest things that's ever happened to me scuba diving was during a drift dive. It's called a drift dive because there's a strong current. The way it works is one person, who leads the dive, brings a big orange inflatable float in their pocket. You just jump in water, you don't even kick, because it's like a conveyor belt, you just go along with the current. When you're finished, the leader takes out the float, inflates it, and it shoots up to the surface. The boat come around to where the marker is and picks you up.

You have to be aware at all times because of the current. If something's in your way, you could be in trouble.

I was 14 years old and I was just learning to look for small things—little creatures in the coral and stuff like that. So I was not really paying attention to people around me because I was looking at the coral.

Suddenly I heard the loud metallic tapping—which is what people do they want to get your attention when you're diving—someone was banging a carabineer against their tank. And I looked up and the guy, the leader, was pointing dead ahead.

I looked in front of me and about two inches from my face was a 120-pound grouper camouflaged into the coral.

If you've ever seen a grouper feed, they open their mouths really wide and suck all the water through their body and let in parasite fish to clean them and stuff like that.

So this grouper was like five feet long and it was feeding and my head was right there. I grabbed onto a rock, steadied myself, but I could feel him trying to suck my head in.

I mean, he couldn't have swallowed me, or fit my whole head in his mouth, but it would have been awful.

It would have been awful to have a 120-pound grouper stuck to my head.

That was pretty scary.

—Michael Glantz '08 as told to Joshua Miller.

To be almost eaten by a grouper fish

My junior year of high school, I was 17, and I rode for my township's ambulance squad. One day, we got a call from the dispatcher: "unconscious male, bleeding from the face." We get there and there are cop cars everyway and it's a scene.

It was in an office building, you could see through the glass—it was a glass wall—and the man was just sitting in an office chair leaning back, with his head back. There was a bloody spot on his forehead: he had a hole in his head.

It was the only homicide in my town in ten years and I didn't really know what to think. My mind was just blank at the time—I was 17. I was like, wow, that guy's dead.

I kept expecting him to move or something because when you see people that are asleep, they'll at least move. When they're dead, they're obviously not moving at all.

His eyes were open and he was just kinda' blankly staring backwards.

His family was there.

The guy was very obviously dead and since it was a crime scene, the cops didn't let us touch anything. They didn't want us to add potential fingerprints or take away potential evidence so they didn't even let us touch the guy.

I was really nervous at the time—and the best way to handle it is to just laugh it off. I mean, that's sick, but EMTs have a dark humor.

We just started making jokes about other stuff. It looked a little bit unprofessional for about two seconds because the family was there. The guy's dead and we're making jokes.

I started see more stuff like this as the years went on, and you really just got to laugh it off.

—Akira Shishido '08 as told to Joshua Miller.