I ran the NYC Marathon on November 3rd. I could go into all kinds of details about how I trained, how I tapered and how else I prepared for that day. Seriously, I could. It appears I have an endless capacity to talk marathon. I could tell you about the many obstacles I had to overcome to get to run the marathon and how, instead of taking those obstacles as divine signs that I was not meant to run the marathon, my determination was only strengthened. There are stories to tell about how, in addition to this being my first New York Marathon, it was also the first time I rode the Staten Island Ferry, even though I have lived in New York City since 2000. It was the first time I set food on Staten Island, though I have driven through it, on my way to New Jersey, countless times. It was also the first time I have run a race that are started by a cannon blast, followed by Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. I struck up conversations with a man who has run the NYC marathon 27 times and several other people for whom, like me, this was their first time. While waiting for the race to begin or while being herded out of Central Park when the race was over, each time standing among more people than I imagined, I chatted with a man from Ireland whom, after running a marathon at 25 and giving it up, had come back, 30 years later, to run a faster marathon at 55 than he had at 25. I struck up a conversation with a man from Guatemala who seemed to be running the world – Tokyo was next, after Buenos Aires, Berlin and New York, to name a few. I happened upon two of my running classmates and we hung out at the start line and set out together, very excitedly. I could write a book about Sunday that I would find absolutely gripping and that most people would yawn and think – why would you do that?
That’s a question that I am asked often. I was asked this when I showed up at work with skin missing from my collarbone because an errant zipper rubbed it off during a three hour run. It’s a question that I was asked after people found out that I was running a marathon and I would win only if my husband tripped up the thousands of people ahead of me. Yes. Thousands. And yet, even as I was asked, I continued to train hard and then run a marathon. When I walked down to the end of my block, in 2001, and watched the marathoners running by, I was blown away. As a regular runner of three miles at a time, standing between miles six and seven, I wondered what kind of fitness and genetic gift it took for a human being to run 26.2 miles. I was already impressed that they had completed six miles already. Over time, though, I found that running long distance begins with the belief that it is possible, and the will to work toward achieving that goal. Others may not understand what what I am doing or why I am doing it – I may not fully understand it myself – but there I am, doing it.
In the similar, though much less noble manner, all a fraudster needs is the will and drive to commit fraud, or whatever he or she wishes to call the pressure to defraud. With the opportunity to steal, they will view the entity they are dealing with and if they have the belief that they can do it and get away with it, they will go for it. And, in the same way that crazy runners rationalize running obscene distance after obscene distance, losing toenails, running great races and absolutely miserable ones, so too do fraudsters find ways to rationalize their crime. These reasons will run the gamut from, “I work hard and they don’t pay me enough for it,” to “I’ll pay it back; it’s just a loan,” and “I can, so why not?”
Humans will do unbelievable things be they incredibly inspiring things like running for 26.2 miles, sometimes at a 5 minute mile pace, sometimes at a 10 minute mile, and sometimes on prosthetic limbs. Human beings will also do unbelievably heinous things like running massive Ponzi schemes, embezzling from a nonprofit or just selling inside information. People will surprise you with their audacity, their determination and their will to succeed. Good or bad, people are really good at being unbelievable.