October 31, 2012

NYCM After Sandy. Yes, Another Opinion.

I woke up yesterday morning with a heavy & sad heart. A day after super storm Sandy pummeled NYC, I felt like my city had been attacked. Yes, Sandy was different than 9-11. We had warning, it was a natural disaster, we knew it was coming, we could take cover and save lives if not material objects. But in the hours and day since the storm passed, the city has come together once again just like it did after 9-11. This city never ceases to amaze me and I am so proud to call myself a NYer.

I was talking to my mom on the phone and she asked me if I'd heard from friends. My answer? Yes, they are my NYC family, of course I've heard from them. From the moment the storm began, the texts, phone calls & emails were flying back and forth.  We checked on each other every few hours, making sure everything was ok, that everyone was safe. "Hey, hanging in there?" "Checking in, you ok? You have power?" "What's going on by you. You okay?" non stop....Even those who were away on vacation took the time to text, to make sure everyone was ok. Here in NYC, we take care of each other. Most of us live here, away from parents and possibly even brothers & sisters. We consider each other family and I am so incredibly grateful to have such a large family here in NYC.

And then the topic of the NYC Marathon came up and I must admit, I felt torn. There have been so many opinions expressed and I found myself uncertain about how I felt. How will we get to the start line? Will the course be impacted? What about all the runners who can't make it? Should the city spend energy & time devoted to a race when so many people needed their help? Lots of questions. Maybe not enough answers. But at the end of the day, the race will go on and I will be running it.

I'm going to have faith in the city & it's leaders. I have to believe that if the marathon were going to be detrimental to the city and the disaster victims, they would make the decision to call off the race. But the city is supporting it and therefore I will run it. This race is estimated to generate more than $300 million for the city and from what I understand, it's money the city could use right about now. I also have to believe that this is not a greedy decision made by New York Road Runners. Although I'm not Mary's hugest fan and don't love where she's taken NYRR, it really bothers me to see so many lashing out at her over this race. It seems like just another excuse to pick on the woman. She was hired to lead an organization and plan a race and she has the city's support to keep that race on Sunday's schedule. I'm trying to believe that she's just doing her job to the best of her ability.

As per NYRR's facebook page, "The Marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this City" and I have to agree. I read a comment from someone who argued to cancel the race because it would be like throwing a party in a suffering city. But I do not see this race as a party. A runner for years, I first started racing with the goal of one day running NYCM to prove to myself that I was strong enough to do it. At the time, my life was falling apart and I needed something to keep me going, to prove to myself that I could handle anything. I started with half marathons, then the Philadelphia Marathon as my first, always with the goal of NYC in my mind. Through these last few years of running, training & racing, I have found more strength than I ever thought was possible. I'm part of a beautiful running community, many members of whom make up that NYC family I mentioned above. I found the courage to start my own business and the running community has supported it and helped it grow into something I could never have imagined. So on Sunday, when I run 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC, I won't be throwing a party but will be reflecting on how far I've come. For me, this race will be a symbol of my vitality and resilience.

There are many negative comments about the race floating around social media right now and I'm doing my best to tune them out. The city has decided, the race is on and us runners have a few days left before we take it on. We need your support. Just about each of us out there have a story, a reason why this race is important to and why we are still running it. I cannot speak for others but I do believe that running this race shows the city & the world that we are strong & resilient. As per a friend's text tonight "his race is by no means a party for many of us but has been a healing process and a way to honor loved ones." I mean absolutely no disrespect to those who have been impacted by Sandy and am aware of their struggle & the road ahead. Running this race does not erase that. I've contacted my local shelter to help, I've cooked meals and offered a warm bed to friends without electricity, and I'm doing my best to do my part. I am also donating a portion of proceeds from ESD NYCM Race Bling to Sandy relief efforts, retroactive to Monday & through the holiday season. And yes, I'm running NYCM because it is important to me and because the city has given me the okay to do so.

So on Sunday, please come out & support us runners and the city. Running this race does not mean that we disrespect those impacted by Sandy. We are just trying to follow through on our hard work. The excitement you see coming from us right now does not mean we aren't aware of the situation in NYC but it's what we need to do to get through this race and we need your support. 

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