Since July I have been training for November 4th. I have logged over 1,200 miles to train this year so I could toe the line on the Verrazano Bridge. I did hill repeats and tempo runs. I cut out meat and dropped pounds specifically to run faster in New York. I did it for the love of the sport and for the love of my former city.
Super Storm Sandy completely changed the reality. What I was getting ready for was not a tour of destruction but a celebration of New York and my progress. Now it is being billed by supporters as a Race to Rebuild, or some such nonsense, and wasteful, dangerous, and callous by those opposed to it.
I sent a note on Tuesday to the San Francisco Road Runners group that is running the NYC Marathon saying we should make alternative plans for this race. There was no way they would be ready for us. But then on Wednesday the Mayor said it was a go and we boarded our rescheduled flights and now I am sitting in our completely unscathed apartment on the Upper East Side.
Upon landing, the military guys sitting across from us on the plane said something to the effect of Mayor Bloomberg is an idiot for allowing this race to go on. My mother thinks it is a waste of resources. My running chum Kai, who is running the race, also thinks this might not be the best of ideas to run a race through a city that is just days off from a catastrophic event.
But then there is a runner friend of mine who is currently living in the dark and says that the race is a fine thing to do now, and it is silly to say no to millions in revenue even if it is less than other years. There are people celebrating the city for its resiliency and ability to, as the mayor put it, move on with life. It is notable that the NYRR, the marathon's host, and ING, the marathon's named sponsor, have already given $1.5 million to the efforts and are calling on all runners to give at least $26.20 to the cause. And not for nothing, people worked hard to get to the marathon.
I don't know how to feel. I know I feel guilty for wanting to have a good time. I am worried that no one will be out supporting the race and if they do come out they will have nasty posters telling us to get off the streets. I want to be principled and say I won't run. But then again, I want to run very badly and I want to PR. The wife and I always have a party and celebrate the marathon but now, after Sandy, it seems out of place. The race will happen, and it will be toned down, but it is still an accomplishment for all the runners and the city. So...it is hard.
The issues of the aftermath and canceling a road race don't even come into the same worlds. But thanks to the powers that be, I have been given the choice to compete, gain a personal best while millions in this area are without power, water and heat. And honestly I thank them for this opportunity to run this race. I have wanted to run it again since I started running it in 2009. But that isn't without internal conflict.
I am hopeful that the race will be a nice distraction for people who have had a really bad week. I pray that it isn't a major drain on resources. I also hope people are excited for the runners and the city. This weekend will be one to remember. No matter what happens, it will be a hard day for all involved.