Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Run Anyway

As most of you have undoubtedly heard by now (becasue it's been almost 3 weeks), the NYC marathon was cancelled.  I'm gonna go ahead and tell you my story, because that's what I'm inclined to do.

On Monday, October 29th, I was made aware of the Hurricane Sandy by my good friend Amy who had been planning on meeting me in NYC to cheer me on at the marathon.  Her sister, Lyndsay, who is also my friend, and a runner, lives near the City in Jersey, so Amy was following the storm and had some concerns.   On Monday night I emailed Lyndsay who was (without my knowing, initially), at that very moment, being hit by the storm.

Exerpts from our emails:

Monday, October 29, 7:57 pm

"Hey, how is it ? Is it bad? Are you safe there?
What do you think the odds are of the race going on?
If it does go on would u want or be able to run any of it with me? I didn't know if that was allowed at NYC Marathon?

It's bad.
I'm scared shitless
Should have evacuated my bldg but I didn't when they told us to
Race is in question based on airports and power outages
It's really hard to jump in bc they have bariers everywhere but i will def try!!
Will keep u updated

Oh no. Be safe!
Yes Keep me posted. I hope Sandy passes through tonight!
There's that word again. Hope.

Just lost power
Shutting down now to conserve
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 2:08 PM
Long night
No power yet
No updates on marathon
Things are crazy messed up here
All subways flooded
No trains or buses yet
Went for a run along the water and there are trees down and debris everywhere
Will take a while to clean up
Most people in know in the city don't have power yet either
Not sure about airports if they are open
Don't have access to the news so you probably know more than me
Keep me updated if u hear anything about the marathon and I will do the same
Today is a big clean up day and I suspect more news will happen tomorrow
Shutting down now to conserve battery
Sent from my iPad
Me (in my mind): Oehw, That does not sound good. It's totally cool that she went for a run.  I love Lyndsay for that.  I imagined what her run might have been like. 

Throughout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, friends and family were asking me if I was still planning on going to New York.  My responses were...."If it's ON, I'm IN, basically".  Or, "Have you met me?" Wednesday afternoon after Mayor Bloomberg stated that the Marathon was definately ON, I had no question.  I even thought that holding the marathon could, in some ways, help the city get back on it's feet. So, Thursday I commenced my packing, and Friday morning got on the plane with Richie and several other runners from Austin.   We travelled most of the day, figured out the ONE subway that was running from near the airport (JFK- it was open) to midtown, where our hotel was, and made it into the city.  Once there, we get off the subway train, I put on my puffy jacket, get tangled in the turnstyle, drag my huge suitcase up the 20 some steps,  and stumble out onto the street with eyes wide open and a smile on my face. ...typically one of my very favorite moments about arriving in a big city like NYC or San Francisco.....How the city basically opens up and washes over you.   How you instantaneously transition from one existence to another. It's kind of like being re-born.  Or, punching a giant re-set button, if you will. SHPOW!  Then, almost as if it were planned...(? Mayor B?)..... Tri-Tone sound....Text message received..."Marathon Cancelled."  Then, within seconds of the text, my phone rings and I know immediately that the text was not a  mistake. 

Standing there on the corner of 57th and 5th, with my suitcase and my husband at my side (with no kids :)) with this new information, you can imagine my mixed thoughts and emotions.  No marathon. :(  No Marathon :)?   It took me about 30 seconds to realize that this was potentially not so bad.  This was our first trip without the kids since before Ace was born.  I decided pretty immediately that this could be OK, and even, potentially, MORE fun.  Plus, It's what I had to do.

We made it to the hotel, which was a flurry of folks from all over the world, our hotel being one of the marathon host hotels.  There were glances of understanding being shared between runners of all languages.  No one was angry.  Mostly in shock, I figured. We went to our room,  got freshened up, and went out to eat....

We walked around times square and exchanged a knowing smile with "Snoop Dog".

No lack of electricity here.

There was no loss of electricity in Midtown, but just down the way, around 30th street, huge blocks were black as night.  Very spooky with a comic book "gothom" type of feeling.


On Saturday morning, we got up and made plans to work our way toward the Marathon Expo which was still being held.  Then we just started walking like Richie and I tend to do when we travel.  We ducked into an awesome Diner for breakfast and then kept walking toward the Marathon Expo which was a few miles away.  The place was packed! There were (road) runners everywhere! (Not a scruffy looking one in the bunch!) All of the 2012 NYC Marathon Gear was on sale for half price.  I picked out several very cool items and then I saw the check out line.  I realized immediately that while I may be an endurance athlete, I'd never make it to the end of that line, and we bowed out without my souvenirs.  We caught a bus back to the hotel and this is where things started getting really fun.  I had decided that I really wanted to run in Central Park since I WAS there and this was my chance.  I had tried to spark some inerest in Fred's Team to support a run there on Sunday, but there was no response, likely due to their being busy with figuring out what to do about the cancelled marathon, themselves.  So, I decided that I would go ahead and do it this afternoon before Richie and I went out to see a band that night, and not risk being too tired on Sunday.  I got dressed and ready for my run. We took a cab down to central park where the Fred Lebow Statue USUALLY stands around 90th St.,  in order for me to take some photos by the statue and then I'd start my run.

Unfortunately....Fred had already been moved to the "Finish Line" of the "Marathon" which was a few miles away at the other end of the park.  I wasn't going to be able to carry all of my things, make it to the other side for the photo with Richie and still have light for my run, so I gave my things to Richie and started running.  A few loops around the lake in the park, then down the streets of Manhattan back to my hotel.

I, of course, thought this giant Apple symbol in the sky was a "sign".
My run was a thrill! I was well rested, it was very cool out, and I was in NYC!!  I ran about 7.5 miles and I ran quickly due to the weather and the excitement.  I made it back to the hotel and we got ready to go out to eat and to go see the band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion that we wanted to see play that night. We were unable to get the tickets online, but we decided to take our chances and show up at the Bowery Ballroom because, for gosh sakes it was the Blues Explosion! We actually made it into the show!! And it Rocked!

Just before the show, Richie was reading CNN on his phone and there was one small line that mentioned how some people were meeting in Central Park the next day to do a run. After the rock show, around midnight, I noticed a twitter message from my friend Chuck linking me to a twitter site "@RunanywayNYC12".  There were some details on people meeting to run a marathon on Sunday morning in Central Park and raising money for Sandy relief.  I knew then that I had to go there and be ready to run a marathon. 

The next morning I got up and showered, body-glided my eyes (turns out it makes a great make-up remover), got dressed in my Fred's team garb, weaved through the throng of international runners doing group stretches in the hotel lobby who were obviously gearing up for something like a marathon, chose one of the 3 Starbuck's' on the corners near my hotel for breakfast, and made my way to Central Park.  I got out of the cab and walked toward the outer loop where the run was happening. By the time I got there, thousands of people were already running. (I read various esstsimates of 15-20,000 runners).  It's hard to describe the excitement and emotion that was swirling around that 6.1 mile loop of Central Park. Most people were running counter clockwise, with a small fraction of folks running clockwise on the innermost part of the road.  It was amazing.  There were thousands of others like myself who had raised money for causes in order to run NYC, and who had trained and dedicated their runs to specific people and organizations. Just like myself, they wanted, and needed to run to honor those people and follow through with commitments they had made to donors. On top of this, people were wanting to raise money for Sandy relief and victims.

I made my way closer, dropped my clothes then found myself working my way into the flow like a Salmon.  I don't think Salmon think much.  I think it is mostly part of their instinct to "run" with the group.  I was still pretty much in shock, and sort of out of it when I began running.  I was worn out from my busy day the day before and it took me a little while to completely realize what was happening.  I was trying to take it all in.  I began noting the hundreds of people who had, not their own names, but names of loved ones, causes, and their beloved countries marked on their shirts.  People were running free.  It was not a race, but something that people just needed to do.  There was, at the same time, an undeniable presence of the respect that people had for those who had suffered losses due to the hurricane Sandy.  

By the time I made it to my mile 6, which was where the anticipated  "NYC Official Marathon Finish" was to be, there was a  huge clog of people paying their respects to the finish line banner, which we were not allowed to cross under, and also to the statue of Fred Lebow. 

There you are Fred!!  At this point I felt very emotional and elated at the same time.

I ran a couple more laps on this high and then I got a text from Richie!  "I'm here. Where are you?"
Wow! this was so exciting for me.  I had left the hotel with no plans for him to meet me here. I had gone with no idea what I was getting myself into, or what was actually going to happen,so I had just headed over there on my own and told him I'd see him in about 5 hours.  When I called him back, he was only about a mile away from me and I ran with excitement toward him.  His showing up, and knowing he'd be there when I finished is what got me through the rest of my run!  What a beautiful day and an amazing example of a grass roots effort.  This marathon was absolutely self supported.  There was no city support or any official support that I could see other than the various groups that were taking donations for Sandy, and random citizens who had just come out to support the runners!  Random people were pooring water out of gallon jugs and giving away pretzels and gummy bears.  I am very happy that this once in a lifetime event went on, not in spite of a trajedy, but with respect for those who have incurred loss from not only the hurricane, but also from those more common causes that continue to affect millions. I was so happy to be able to complete my run to honor my dedications and my commitments to myself and my Fred's Team donors. And, after my run I was able to donate money to a specific family who had lost their home in the storm.

What a day!

Now back to trail!
Bandera 25K January
Nueces 50K March

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Emily ! What an amazing story of triumph, both personal and social! I am so glad that you ran your marathon (and especially with the kids tucked away in TX). :)