Friday, November 2, 2012

Mixed emotions

My journey to the New York City Marathon started in March of 2011, when I decided that my goal for that fall would be to run a half marathon fast enough to qualify for the 2012 race.  After months of training, I qualified for guaranteed entry in October, and signed up as soon as registration opened on January 2. I've continued to train throughout the year, focusing solely on this race for the last four months.  Over these last 15 weeks, I've run over 600 miles, made reservations, studied the course map, visualized how amazing this race would be, and spent hours discussing all things New York City marathon related with my teammates and friends who also had "November 4 - NYC" on their calendars.  

And then came Hurricane Sandy.  It has been awful to see footage of the disaster and hear the stories of those most impacted by the storm.  Yet the decision was made that the marathon would go on, and that brings me to today.  There has been so much backlash against the marathon, and understandably so.  However the race will also bring millions of dollars to the city, along with many who are bringing donations and offering time and money to help relief efforts.  So what to do?  I am not remotely concerned about the actual running part, as it would be quite simple to stay home and run the City of Oaks Marathon instead.  But will throwing away the money I've already spent on flights and accommodations have any positive impact on the city at this point?  I really doubt it, but I also have no desire to run through a city that doesn't want me to be there.  A huge part of the reason that I wanted to run NY in the first place is the famed crowd support, with people 10 deep and a deafening roar as you come off the Queensboro Bridge.  If we are going to hear silence or hostile words, is it worth it?  I've struggled with this for the past few days, and decided that staying home is not going to do any good.  So I will do some shopping, dine at restaurants, and bring extra clothes to donate at the start.  Hopefully in a small way that will help.  And hopefully all New Yorkers do not share the view of those posting such negative comments about the race, but can embrace the event in the same way they embraced the return of baseball after 9-11.  Everyone cheered on the Yankees seven days after thousands were killed in the September 11 attack, citing the return to the field as a symbol of resiliency and offering a welcome distraction from the devastation.  I can only hope that Sunday's race will at the very least serve that same purpose. 

Update: 11/2/2012, 8:27pm

Well, as you may have heard, the race has been canceled.  I think it is probably the right decision, but it is incredibly disappointing after finally having made a decision and come within 36 hours of the start.  They should have canceled much earlier, rather than waiting until so many people had already traveled to the city.  Though I was not going to fly out until tomorrow, the rest of my teammates have already battled hectic airports and crazy traffic to get to NYC.  To not only have something I've been looking forward to and training for taken away at the 11th hour, but also lose a significant amount of money on non-refundable flights and the $255 registration fee, really makes me sad.  Of course this does not compare to what has been lost by the residents hit by Sandy, but that does not make it any less disappointing.

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