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After Sandy

by Meghann on November 5, 2012

Last Monday night Derek and I were on the phone with our friends Bo and Ashley in New York City. They had just rented Magic Mike and Bo was calling to confirm whether Derek had seen it or not (he hadn’t) since his wife swore Derek saw it and didn’t mind it (I accidentally missed the message on my phone that said “have Derek tell Bo he saw the movie” – whoops!). We were all laughing over the situation and Derek encouraged Bo to watch “manly football” in the other room instead. It was a fun conversation that reminded me how lucky we are to have great friends like Bo and Ashley in our lives.

That night Hurricane Sandy moved through and turned New York City (and the surrounding areas) upside down. When I didn’t hear from Ashley the next morning, I started to worry. After a couple of texts, she informed me that she and Bo were okay, but had lost their power, heat, and water, and weren’t sure when it was coming back. They were the lucky ones.

As I turned the tv on, my eyes began to tear up as the screen filled with images of the devastation Sandy had brought to Staten Island, Jersey Shore, and all of the surrounding areas. Selfishly I thought of the New York City Marathon several of my friends were supposed to run that weekend and began to wonder if it was taking place. I logged onto the New York City Marathon Facebook page and found myself pulled in to the controversy that was suddenly forming around the race. As a runner, when Bloomberg made the announcement that the race would go on in hope of inspiring the city, I believed him. Running is powerful, it’s uplifting, and it can bring a community together, so as long as the city officials said it was safe, I was on their side.

Then the attacks over the marathon happened. I stopped watching the news and instead focused on the New York City Marathon social media feed. I read on as runners were threatened and bullied for still wanting to run the race, I read as runners tried to justify why they were running, and I read as runners gave up responding and it became an all out campaign to stop the race from happening. I kept my opinions to myself. I was someone who was not running the race, nor was I someone who was affected by the storm, therefore I didn’t think I had the right to my own opinion. Instead, I just watched and took it all in.

I was in Orlando when I got the text from Ashley that the marathon was cancelled. She was heartbroken and all I wanted to do was cry for her, for what she’d been through that week. In the end, I agree that Bloomberg made the right decision to cancel the marathon (thought I do NOT agree with the timing over it all). There was too much hate out there and everyone stopped focusing on the recovery efforts and were instead only focusing on the marathon controversy (myself included). I wonder what would have happened if the situation was flipped and the majority of people were for the marathon instead of against it? Do you think the marathon would have rallied people together as the mayor had originally intended it to? We’ll never know.

After the announcement, I walked away from the New York City Marathon Facebook page. I was done reading the comments, I was done seeing the hate out there, and I was done hearing everyone else’s opinion instead of listening to my own. I decided instead to put my energy into something good and donated to the Red Cross that night.

On Sunday I was filled with inspiration when my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feed not only filled with imaged of thousands of runner running laps of Central Park in honor of the original New York City Marathon course (while raising funds and donating supplies to those in need)

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via runeatrepeat.com

But also when my stream filled with runners heading to Staten Island (as they would have done on race day), delivering supplies and helping in anyway they could.

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image via ING Runner’s Nation Facebook Page

(There’s a great blog post HERE about the experience.)

Those moments of coming together to help those in need are exactly why I’m proud to be part of the running community. Amanda (who was at Central Park running with the would-be marathoners on Sunday) wrote a great post on why we run and she nailed it on the head when she said:

“No one should be surprised when Central Park is teaming with runners Saturday and Sunday this weekend. It’s not a sign of disrespect, it’s simply who runners are. We run to overcome grief. We run to celebrate. We run to relax. We run in the rain, in the snow, in the heat. We run run because it’s what helps us find normal and balance in a world that is neither. We don’t find excuses not to run, we find reasons to run. We create charity runs for a friend or a local in need. We raise thousands through the miles for charities around the world. We volunteer at races to make it possible for others to run.”

There was one marathoner/ blogger signed up for Sunday’s race that wasn’t so lucky on Monday night. I met Jen last June when I was in NYC for a Brooks event, then again when she came to Healthy Living Summit this past August.

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She’s a Twitter pal who is full of spunk and has that great New York tell-it-how-it-is attitude. She’s a runner, a mother, a wife, and a friend, who lost almost everything in Sandy’s path. You can read her story HERE.

One of the great things about the blogging community is how we all band together when a fellow blogger needs our help. Well, Jen needs our help. A YouCaring page has been set up in her family’s name here or Ashley created a registry for her family here where you can purchase everyday items to help her family rebuild their home. Any little bit helps to get her family back on their feet as they try to figure this new life out. They are a family of fighters, but even fighters need a hand when everything is gone.

I’ve seen many other bloggers pop up with fundraisers to help the relief efforts and this fact couldn’t make me happier. Let’s stop talking about whether the marathon should have happened or should not have happened, and start moving on. Let’s take that passion, that energy, and let’s make a difference.

Who’s with me?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jamie in Arkansas November 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

This was a really great post Meghann.

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2 Ashley November 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Agreed. I’m glad you addressed it on your blog, becauses I know it’s been every where else lately.

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3 NYC Fit GIrl November 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Great post MEghann! Glad to see people from all over helping!
NYC Fit GIrl recently posted..Getting Back To Normal

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4 Sue November 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Great post!
I live in NJ and I’ve seen the devastation first hand. I have friends that have lost everything like Jen. I actually recognized her from Brian Williams’ report. My heart goes out to her and her family and everyone else affected by this storm.
Every little bit helps! I’ve already donated to the Red Cross and plan on donating more to my friends affected.
Thank you for bringing awareness!

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5 Brittany @Berries and Barbells November 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Great post! I agree. It seems like all anyone can talk about is the marathon and why it should or shouldn’t have happened. I think it was a good decision to cancel the race but it should have happened much earlier. I also don’t think it is right how some people bashed the runners for wanting to run.
I just hope people will donate time and money to help to people on the East Coast recover.
Brittany @Berries and Barbells recently posted..Relaxing Sunday and Workout Plans

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6 Annette @FitnessPerks November 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Really great post!! Definitely neat to see people pull together and help those in need!
Annette @FitnessPerks recently posted..Massage Benefits + Weekend Recap

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7 Rebecca November 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I am in agreement with the marathon being cancelled, but like you and others, I felt that it happened way too late and so many people were stuck paying for their travel/already in NYC when they made the announcement. I really really feel for the people who travelled from far away places to find out that the marathon was cancelled.

The runner bashing was just mean and hateful. Some people just don’t get it at all.
Rebecca recently posted..U.S. Elections: NaBloPoMo Post

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8 Dori November 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Bloomberg is an idiot. NYRR has no communication strategy and never learn from their mistakes. The whole thing was handled so poorly and unfairly. And about Jen – the situation is so heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing everything and I really love the way the blog world rallies around their own in extreme circumstances. It’s really touching to see.
Dori recently posted..Hey 2012 NYCM Runners: I Loved the Richmond Marathon.

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9 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes November 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm

On Sunday, I met up with New York Runners in Support of Staten Island–we ran through the hardest-hit areas, distributed supplies, and talked to locals. As an NYC resident who lost power for four days, I was extremely humbled by this experience and realized how lucky I was to have avoided the worst of Hurricane Sandy. According to the group’s Facebook page, we might stage future runs and organize further relief efforts.
Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes recently posted..New York Runners in Support of Staten Island

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10 Camile November 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

My mom was supposed to run in the race and we got the news that the race was cancelled as we were pulling up to the airport and we didn’t end up getting on the plane. Instead we accepted the credit from Jet Blue and went home. A part of both of us wishes we had still gone to help in person.

My mom cried on Saturday night like I haven’t seen her cry in a long time. We are New Yorkers originally (most of our family is still there and they are fine, thank goodness) and my mother lived there for 30 years. She wanted to run to pay tribute to the city she loves.

We watched the benefit concert on Friday night and made donations to the red cross. My mom is running a collection of clothes and money to send to victims. The whole thing really breaks my heart. I think it was the right decision to cancel the marathon, but the timing was just horrible.

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11 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale November 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Running is a community — we band together for better or for worse. We have no power to control the situation, but we do have control over our reaction to it. I believe that the runners who aided the charities had the perfect reaction to it — take the heart and soul that you would have put into your run, and put it towards helping those in need. It was a momentous and eventful race, for certain, but there will be others. I believe that the runners who participated in the efforts will take away pride from the experience — perhaps not the same pride as crossing a 26.2 finish line, but pride nonetheless.
I’m assuming (though I don’t actually know, wasn’t involved in the running world at that point) that the marathon was cancelled after 9/11? What did the runners do back then?
Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale recently posted..MIMM — A PLAYful Weekend

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12 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I agree, I didn’t appreciate all the hate towards the runners. I just don’t think people who aren’t runners understand what it’s like for us to run a marathon, how much it means to us. And I got Jen a corkscrew to open wine! I thought she’d need some wine…
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..Thirteen Reasons Why

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13 Jacqueline November 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Very well written post Meghann!!
It’s heartwarming to see the blog world pitch in and help.
I can’t do a lot, but I’m hosting my first giveaway for BIC Bands. I think every little bit helps.
Jacqueline recently posted..My first giveaway

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14 Morgan November 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Yes, the race should have been cancelled-especially when NYU and Bellevue lost power and had to evacuate/discharge patients. New York was without 1000 hospital beds which would definitely lead to an overcrowding in the EDs around the city already without the marathon. I cannot imagine the overcrowding of hospitals in NYC if the race had gone on. The hospitals are already overcrowded to begin with.
I’m sorry if everyone is upset because they can’t run a race they trained very hard for, but in the end it is only a race. You were running this race selfishly, training selfishly, and now people died and are without due to this storm. Use your kind runner’s spirit and volunteer. WITHOUT RUNNING. Help others out without the need to run and do it.
And yes, they NYC marathon happened in 2011, but remember it was 2 months after 9/11. They had a lot more time to cancel/not cancel.
Mary Whittenberg makes upwards of 400k per year, I honestly would expect her to make a better decision than she did. Her decision was selfish.

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15 Jackie November 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I think everyone agrees that the race should have been canceled..

But running and TRAINING selfishly? Really? I run and train for SO many reasons: health, sanity, and because every now and then I realize how blessed I am, and without running, I may not have that feeling. I volunteer, I give back when I can, but running is a way I can humble myself. That’s selfish?

“You were running this race selfishly, training selfishly, and now people died and are without due to this storm.” You make it sound like it was the marathon that brought Sandy and the destruction. No, unfortunately that was nature, and the lack of a hurricane plan by superiors/people in charge.

This anger and seemingly hatred is what everyone does NOT need. There is too much of it in the country right now, and it makes me incredibly sad to be entering into an adult world where everyone bashes each other for one reason or another.

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16 ct cupcake November 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I was signed up to run NYC and was already in the tri-state area when the race was canceled. I immediately started crying out of frustration and disappointment. I completely understand canceling the race, but less than 48 hours beforehand is unacceptable. Add to that the hate spewing on facebook and in the comments of online articles. It took until late Saturday evening until runners received an email from NYRR that the race was canceled. We still haven’t received any communication as to what NYRR next steps are regarding next year’s entry or refunds.
I ran in Central Park Sunday and was amazed at the runners out, thousands, the majority of whom were international runners. It was a great time and served to make me more excited for next year. Runners seemed to be in good spirits, despite many likely losing a lot of money on getting to NYC.
Not running the marathon (this year) is a disappointment but it’s nothing compared to losing all your belongings or worse, loved ones. That said, I hate that online posters have vilified runners for being disappointed about the cancelation.

This was not a well carried out event, the race should’ve been canceled on Monday, when people had more time to make changes to travel plans. There is no reason runners could not have received an email regarding the race cancelation earlier as well. Yet NYRR was quick to suggest runners still visit(and presumably shop at) the marathon expo.
ct cupcake recently posted..Canceled

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17 Anne @strawberryjampackedlife November 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Jen and her husband, Pedro, were featured on a tv special on Friday (not sure which channel). Just heartbreaking! Thank you for a wonderful post. Even seeing pictures, I can’t believe the devastation.
Anne @strawberryjampackedlife recently posted..Wreathing

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18 Rachel in Delaware November 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Meghann, thanks for an inspiring post. I live in Delaware and initially saw Jen’s story on the nightly news and was moved by it. I immediately donated to the Red Cross and scheduled an extra platelet donation at the blood bank. Seeing her story again on your blog moved me to take the next step and donate directly to her and her family. If Sandy moved 75-100 miles south, we in Delaware would have likely been asking for help. It’s heartbreaking to see what our neighbors and friends to the north have experienced. I hope those that read your blog can help Jen’s family and the millions of others that need support. Not even going to get into the Marathon controversy, but may I just say, as a runner, it SHOULD have been postponed on Monday when it was known where the storm would hit. I get what they were TRYING to do, but postpone, don’t force it before the residents of NYC were back to meeting minimal needs to survive.

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19 Chad @ beardrunner.com November 5, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Fantastic post and eloquently put. It was and still is a tough situation. Way to spread the spirit of awesomeness that is shared among runners.
Chad @ beardrunner.com recently posted..I Have Big Ugly Teeth!

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