Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NYC Marathon 2012. Well, almost.

As many know by now, the race itself was cancelled due to the terrible aftermath of "Hurricane Sandy".  There are arguments flying back and forth online about whether or not the race should have happened.  Also, there has been concern expressed about why the marathon was cancelled, yet 3 NBA games and an NFL game were able to go on in the area.

The argument can go back and forth for days, but deep down I know.  It was right to cancel the race.  The problem was the fact that they waited so long to do so.

Anyway, I want to share a letter I read to the school community where I teach.

Good morning.

This past week has been a whirl-wind of emotion for me from great highs to very low lows.  After the hurricane last week I was ready for the NYC Marathon to be canceled.  I had come to the conclusion that it was out of my control and I would be wasting energy worrying about it.  I would continue to train as planned and wait to see what happened.  It was obvious there was some terrible destruction in the NYC area, but the Mayor seemed positive that the race would go on as planned.   As the week came to a close, the Mayor announced that the race would actually go on.

I heard from a number of runners, that they would not race as they felt it would be disrespectful to the families who lost loved-ones or had their homes damaged or destroyed. Though I agreed I also heard the message that this race might be a rallying point for the city as it had been after 9/11.  The only difference was in 2001, the race was 7 weeks after the terrorist attacks, and this year the marathon would take place less than a week after the storm.  I considered the options and felt like I should go and race.  I had trained a long time for this and had numerous people supporting me along the way and I did not want to let them down.

My race jersey.
As we travelled down to NYC on Friday it got clearer with each mile past Hartford, how devastating this storm was.  Most gas stations along HWY 91 were closed either with no power or they were out of gas.  Trees were down all over the place and work crews were out cleaning up.  We were listening to the radio and receiving text messages (my wife was driving as I was reading them) that there were long lines for gas and no subways running.  All of the radio shows were saying the same thing, why was the marathon going on?  Bodies were still being recovered on Staten Island.  We arrived in NYC around 4:30pm, more than 2 hours later than expected as there was a long line to go over the bridge into Manhatten from the Bronx.  They were restricting cars to 3 occupants or more.  We parked the car, got our rooms and then at 5:30pm I got a text that the race had been canceled.

My immediate response was that of frustration and anger.  Why had I come all the way down here only to have the race canceled?  Was this a ploy by the mayor to get all 40,000 runners in town, cancel the race, and then at least have us there to spend our money.  I don’t know the answer, but I did know, it was the correct call.  Only much easier to take if it had been made 3 days before.  Many more runners sacrificed more than I did with canceled flights and then re-booking them.  There were athletes from South Aftrica, Australia, India, all over.

Me and Kat (Pres. of the NYC Chapter of Achilles Int)
But what had I lost, but some money for gas and a hotel stay.  Taking the time to realize, 1,000’s of people had no power, flooded homes, and 42 dead in NY alone.  I was only denied my first chance at running a marathon.  I got up early on Saturday morning and ran with some of my teammates from Achilles International and then had a chance to speak to some fund-raisers at a luncheon for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

I will have many more chances to race where some people’s lives are turned upside down by the loss of a loved one or their home. 

Take the time to be thankful for what you have and when a bump comes along in the road, it often helps to take the time to realize, there are often people a lot worse off than you are.

Mile 24 banner still in place.  I'll be back!
As an addendum, I just found out that there is a marathon in Plymouth, MA on November 18th.  I signed up last night.  So much for an off-season.  I am also racing in the Rich Angelo 5K this weekend to honor a fallen triathlete and father.  December 5th is the Jolly Jaunt 5K in Danvers, MA that raises money for the local Special Olympics.

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