Saturday, November 3, 2012

Emotional Bouillabaisse

The eeriness of post-Sandy lower Manhattan was unsettling as we drove on Friday afternoon to the marathon expo at the Javits Center to pick up our race numbers. The empty streets, darkened traffic lights and weary police officers seemed post-apocalyptic and served only to reinforce our own growing ambivalence with the upcoming race.

Manhattan / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: David Berkowitz
There were too many people and communities still in need of help; too many resources were being diverted to set up for the race, let alone conduct it.

The stories filtering out from under the storm were (and are) horrifying. I nearly collapsed in a puddle of tears the other night while reading the New York Times article about the Staten Island woman whose two sons, aged 2 and 4, were swept out of her arms by the water and later found dead at the end of the street.


Canceling the New York City marathon was the right thing to do.


(Not "but.")

And, I'm disappointed. The NYC marathon has been on my bucket list for years. I juggled a lot to train for this marathon. I paid a lot of money in babysitters and asked a lot of favors of friends and family. Rayne and I also raised $2,670 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Team in Training.

I was finally going to complete a marathon injury-free after running San Diego in 2006 with bronchitis and terrible IT band pain, dropping out of Nashville early in 2007 with a stress fracture in my left foot and then dropping out of Chicago later in 2007 with a stress fracture in my right shin.

It will likely be years before I have another opportunity to train for New York. (My sister promised to run it with me cheer for me on the sidelines when I eventually do.)


And, Rayne and I agonized all week over whether we should run, even if the race was held. Out-of-control toxicity and vitriol on the Internet aside, racing just didn't feel right. Our desire to run was not enough to justify the cost to our city. 

We donated $500 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York, where 100% of the proceeds will go towards rebuilding efforts. We pulled together a huge pile of donations including diapers and other baby supplies, dog food, socks, batteries and blankets for the Occupy Sandy relief effort. 

Still, it wasn't sitting right.

Far Rockaway, Queens / November 1, 2012
Photo credit: Philip J. Bell
So, we are relieved and disappointed. Sad for everyone in the path of destruction. Angry at our government and politicians for not taking a stronger position on climate change. And thankful -- ever so incredibly grateful -- to have escaped unscathed.

This time.

Now we turn our attention to rebuilding the city.

Tomorrow, Rayne is heading to Staten Island with our team of would-be marathoners to do an in depth, one-block radius clean-up near New Dorp Beach. From what I understand, they are taking the very same buses that would have shuttled us all to the start at Fort Hamilton, also on Staten Island.

Great Kills, Staten Island / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: Rob Gross
I'm volunteering at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene, currently a "special needs" shelter that is in desperate need of help, according to a social worker friend of mine and corroborated by my own eyes when I stopped by this evening to sign up.

Coney Island, Brooklyn / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: drpavloff
It's not going to be pretty. But hopefully we can add some NYC pride to the swirl of emotions that have engulfed us since last Monday.

NB: If you are interested in joining the relief efforts, a good place to start is: NYC Service.