So as most of you I’m sure have heard New York was hit pretty hard by Sandy a few weeks ago and subsequently the New York City Marathon was cancelled.
My power had gone down on Monday so I was without electricity and hot water, which made preparing for the marathon a little trickier than I had anticipated. I found myself cooking pasta at candlelight (thank goodness I have a gas stove), going to a gym- not my usual one as that one was out of power as well- for hot showers, bouncing between coffee shops to do my work and having to carry my laundry to a friends place to wash my clothes. Although it could have certainly been worse, it didn’t make the preparation easy. On Wednesday Mayor Bloomberg announced that the marathon would still be taking place as planned, so I carried on thinking I would be running the race as expected. I found it hard to sleep, not only because of nerves but also because the usual city buzz was silent. I couldn’t hear the usual sound of cars outside my window and a week without light really makes you realize how much we usually take it for granted. At one point on a walk home from a friends house I took two pictures:
On Thursday, I happened to be emailing a friend of mine who works for the New York Times and he ended up passing my contact information on to a reporter covering the marathon. She eventually called and interviewed me on my experience with getting ready for this race during the storm. Subsequently, once the marathon was cancelled, she had to adjust the story a little so I spoke to her again on Friday.
On Friday, two days before being scheduled to run my 26.2 it was announced that the marathon would not be taking place. My phone signal was down all week at home and being that I didn’t have power, my TV was obviously not working. I had stepped outside to make a phone call when I received this picture message :
About 10 minutes later the Times reporter called me and asked me how I was feeling. To be honest, a part of me felt relieved because the week had not exactly been stress free. That being said, I had worked hard to get into this race and trained even harder so I was also, understandably, disappointed. On Thursday I had been to the expo to pick up my race number and was beginning to feel excited about the race!
I even bought a few items at the expo to remember what I thought would be my first marathon. I took pictures and met people from all around the world who had flown in to run this race after hearing it would still go on, on Wednesday. I’m sure they were extremely disappointed when they heard the news that it would be cancelled having paid lots of money to fly over and most likely having taken time off of work as well.
Sandy certainly was devastating, and in New York alone 43 people lost their lives. Homes were ruined, subways were badly flooded and hundreds of people were displaced. The financial impact must have been astronomically high. Considering what was going on in the city, especially in Staten Island and the outer boroughs, I understand why so many people protested the event going on. That being said, the New York City Marathon is a big economic stimulator for the city. It brings hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city who all spend money on hotels, food and so on. Beyond the monetary benefits, I believe the marathon would have also raised morale. I think changing the route should have been a consideration, perhaps 4 loops in Central Park, as it originally was when Fred Lebow first started the race. I don’t disagree with the Mayor’s decision to cancel the marathon, particularly in terms of runner safety but I do wish he had cancelled it on Wednesday instead of waiting an additional 2 days. Either way, the decision was made and rather than getting upset or frustrated I decided to try to remain positive. I enjoyed a glass of wine or two that night being that I was no longer going to be running.
Marathoner support for those impacted by Sandy was truly incredible. Hundreds of people went out to volunteer on race day which was really amazing. The New York Team Challenge team exchanged lots of emails discussing ways that we could pull together and help out. Donations, blood drives, and trips to Staten Island were all discussed. It’s amazing how people really do pull together in times of need. Some people decided to still run 26.2 miles on race day, even if it was unofficial. I must say I really respect that. For the donors who gave hundreds of dollars to help us raise a collective $40,000 for Crohn’s and Colitis this season, I really admire those who ran their unofficial 26.2.
I took a little time to think about what I was going to do. Originally I thought I’d just run the same race next year, but the more I thought about it, the more I kept on thinking about all the hard work I put in to train for this race. All those early morning runs at the track, all those early Friday nights to run long runs on Saturday, and all of those super hot summer days I’d pushed through the discomfort to achieve a life goal, not to mention the thousands of dollars raised from my generous supporters. It also occurred to me that if I didn’t act soon, I would not achieve my original goal of completing a marathon before turning 26.
On Tuesday morning I read a fellow blogger’s (Ali) blog post “From 4:13 to 3:31: My Manchester City Marathon Recap“ about running the Manchester City Marathon since Sandy had cancelled the New York Marathon. I immediately emailed her to congratulate her and to ask her how she had found one so soon. She emailed me back quickly with three races that were happening in the next few weeks. I stared researching immediately. The three races she mentioned were Harrisburg, Rehoboth Beach and Richmond. As I started looking up race information I kept thinking about the size differential between these races and New York. Part of the reason I chose to make New York my first marathon was for the grandiose experience. Rehoboth Beach, although probably quite scenic doesn’t have the same ring to it and the other two were the upcoming weekend. I decided I’d wait instead of rushing to sign up for a marathon just to complete one.
Then, on November 7th, I received a text from my friend Courtney – the one who had originally bought me the book ‘A Race Like No Other’ when I signed up for the New York City Marathon. In her message she told me that the Philadelphia Marathon had opened 3000 lottery spots for New York marathoners. My initial reaction was, well I’ve accepted I’m not running a marathon this year so I’m not even going to look it up. As the day went on, it kept eating away at me so I looked up the course and the elevation chart- it looked pretty flat.. And a good portion of it was the same route as the Rock ‘n’ Roll half I had run in September. Race date was November 18th so if I got in I’d still accomplish my goal of running a marathon before turning 26…though only just, since my birthday is November 19th. After talking to several friends, my parents and coach Jay I decided to put my name into the lottery and let fate decide. Those were a tense 72 hours. We weren’t even sure when we would find out if we got in, we just new it would be before Monday. On Friday at 1:30pm Courtney sent me another text message saying she had gotten in, I immediately checked my email and there was my race confirmation- I was in!!! I could hardly believe my eyes.
So, this week I am back to prepping, hydrating and tapering. I went to Philly this weekend to run the last 10 miles of the race- I ended up running a little north of the race route but still along the Schuylkill River and what a great run it was. I didn’t stop once, it was pitch black out and the weather was absolutely perfect. I am beyond excited for next Sunday! Philly, here I come!