To all of my many friends and family who reached out to me this week, I want to thank you. Your encouragement and love has been amazing. I hesitated in writing anything about my experiences this past weekend, because I don’t want it to sound like I am patting myself on the back or saying “look what I did.” But I am a writer, and something inside me felt like this story needed to be told.
I am not looking for congratulations. Just awareness to the good of people all over this area. The anger and hate get tiring. Just want to throw some positivity in there.
Thanks for reading…
Runners have strong hearts. This is evident from the several months of training through all kinds of weather, over all kinds of terrain, at hours others would rather be sleeping. Strength training, hill training, speed training and long training every Saturday morning for the past 5 months. Giving up trips, social engagements, sleep etc.
We train for many different reasons. Some run to symbolize a certain personal achievement. To prove they can. To celebrate their own strength and personal victory. Others run for charity, raising millions of dollars for those who cannot run.
It is both an invigorating and exhausting journey.
I am not going to lie and say that the cancelation of the marathon was not a huge disappointment. It was. Had it been canceled on Tuesday or Wednesday, it would had been easier to take, than 36 hours before the race. I had spent most of the week torn as to whether to run when so many were hurting anyway. It was also hard to read countless nasty comments and articles online vilifying marathoners. Comments about people who run the marathon deserving to be shot were quite hard to take. It was evident that NYC needed someone to be angry at during the trying time. The marathon served as that.
I found out the marathon was canceled while on my way to the Team in Training Inspiration Dinner. At first I wanted to turn around and not go to the dinner. Afterall, I didn’t really feel like being inspired at the moment. All of the emotions of the rollercoaster-like week came crashing down. But, I have learned through marathon training, when you don’t want to go on…you do just that. You go on.
Of course, the Inspiration Dinner was very emotional. There were many tears. But also, a celebration. The New York City TNT chapter’s 515 NYC Marathon team members raised over $2.2 million for cancer research and support services for patients. This is $400,000 more than last year’s team. Without even setting foot at the start line, we had accomplished a lot. It was evident, we had a lot to be proud of.
But there was still so much more to do.
Saturday morning my Brooklyn team met in Prospect Park. Carrying the warm throw-away clothes we planned to wear at the start line, bags of towels, jugs of water and cans of food. We loaded up two cars to capacity and sent them on to relief efforts in the NYC area.
And then, it was marathon Sunday. As planned, over 100 of my teammates got our busses to Staten Island, but with a different purpose. With rakes and shovels and work gloves galore, we traveled over the Verrazano Bridge to one of the hardest hit areas of Staten Island. A short drive from the “would be” starting line.
There we were exposed to devastation I cannot even begin to describe. And we got to work, cleaning up alongside those who had been affected. We emptied basements of muddied belongings, we ripped out carpeting and insulation, we tore down sheet rock and dry wall. And in doing so, we created some of the largest piles of garbage I have ever seen. Garbage that used to be people’s homes. It was heart breaking.
We saw lots of other marathoners there, as well, from other teams or brought there by their own heart.
At the end of the long day, we boarded our busses and that’s when it was the hardest. To get back in our busses and wave goodbye to or hug those poor Staten Islanders who would have to stay there in the cold with only NYPD flood lights to illuminate them as they continued a job that wasn’t going to end soon.
As we quietly drove across the Verrazano Bridge, a bridge we had spent months or years dreaming of running over this particular day, a teammate solemnly held up an iPhone and played Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. The grief was palpable. Off we rode to our warm, powered Brooklyn apartments while those we had met were still hurting. It was overwhelming.
So, although it has always been evident that marathoners have strong hearts, it is very clear that we have BIG hearts, too. I am proud of my team and all that they have done to help the recovery. We might have read ridiculing accounts in local papers and on the internet, but we know the truth. And those we helped this weekend do, too.There is still so much work to be done. I urge anyone who can, find time to volunteer at a local shelter or in a neighborhood clean up effort.
We will continue to reach out as a team. We will continue to help heal our city. And next year, November 2013 we will run proudly through the greatest city on Earth and be proud of our “would be 2012 marathoner” title.