In April 2012 I was lucky enough to secure a spot in the New York City Marathon through Marathon Tours. I was nervous and excited and scared to be tackling the ginormous task of training for a marathon. And through the Wellington winter. While juggling some pretty tough work commitments. But most of all I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to run in the worlds most prestigious marathon. 143,000 had applied in the lottery and I was one of the lucky 43,000 who would be running around Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan on Sunday 4th November.
Training from June to November was hard and sporadic. I was living in Newtown but working in Trenthem (about 35 mins outside Wellington), staying at my parents in Silverstream 3 – 4 days a week as it was just down the road from work and trying to squeeze in time with my boy anytime I could. I tried to make sure I always had running gear in my draw at work or in my car so I could always squeeze in a run when possible. To be completely honest, marathon preparation was not my number one priority through 2012 (you’d think flying half way around the world it would be!). Work deadlines were more important than scheduled runs but I tried to do whatever I could, when I could and fit everything in as much as possible. Runs were always long and low and I came to hate running and hate the stupid piece of paper (my program) that told me I had to run a certain time/distance even though I didn’t want to. This took all the enjoyment, relaxation and fun out of my favourite past time (more on this in another post) but my millage peaked a few weeks before the marathon when I ran from the office in Trenthem to the office in Wellington. I was excited, nervous and ready for my first marathon when Jerome and I got on the plane to New York on 31st October 2012.
And then Hurricane Sandy struck…
Hurricane Sandy (unofficially known as “Superstorm Sandy”) was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. The storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)). Estimates as of March 2014 assess damage to have been over $68 billion (2013 USD), a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina. At least 286 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries.
When we landed in San Francisco on the Thursday before the marathon we got word from the tour director that there had been extensive damage to some parts of NY but the marathon was mostly definitely still going ahead. Phewww!! We boarded the plane to New Work ready to run.
When we landed it was the early hours of Friday 2nd November and drove to our hotel in times square I was unbelievably excited to be in NEW YORK CITY!! Although it was exciting to be standing in Times Square, it appeared we were the only ones…it wasn’t until a few weeks later when I saw Time Square chocker 24/7 that I realised how airy and desolate Times Square was when we arrived straight after Hurricane Sandy.
On Friday we went to the marathon expo and picked up our race packs and ALOT of marathon clothing, shoes and gadgets. However that night Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the NY Marathon for the first time ever. Jerome and I were sitting in a diner having an early dinner when a television behind us bleared to life with BREAKING NEWS. I looked at the television and burst into tears and cried and cried and cried and cried. Jerome was silent (this isn’t out of the ordinary for him) and shook his head in disbelief. The first thing he said was ‘I guess this means we can drink now’ (also not out of the ordinary for him).
After 10 or so minutes of silent crying and shoulder shudders the very lovely waiters came over the see if I needed anything (I think they thought Jerome and I had just broken up or something – I mean why else would a girl be there crying without a guy laying a hand on her). This ripped us to reality when we learnt that one of the waiters hadn’t had power or water for the last 3 days and had a young family at home and was still smiling and making sure we were OK. We had many many similar discussions over the next few days with lovely NYers who had lost so much but were displaying the famous strength the city of New York exerts in times of need. I couldn’t be sad that a running race had been cancelled when we Jerome and I both had our health and hot water at our hotel when others had lost their homes, their belongs and worse. Also we undid all our training in the next 48 hours…
To look back on those few days it was silly to think the marathon ever could’ve gone ahead. The subway was closed, Staten Island where the marathon starts was in rubble and basic services like rubbish collection and taxi services weren’t working across NY. 60% of Manhattan and all of Brooklyn were without power for the first full week were in NY and the police and fire departments that help marshal the marathon were fully occupied with clean up. It was like turning up to Christchurch a few days after the earthquake and expecting 43,000 people to run through the city. A small silver lining of the marathon was knowing the food and drink from our race packs was donated to the red cross to Sandy victims.
Anyway, sorry for the novel but now you know a little bit more background behind my motivations for the New York marathon 2014. 19 weeks to go and counting….