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)
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.
image via ING Runner’s Nation Facebook Page
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.
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?