Friday, November 9, 2012

An Impromptu Run In Central Park: NYCM 2012

I started this post on Sunday evening but didn't have the mental capacity to actually finish it.  There were too many thoughts running around my head.  That and I was pretty freaking tired.  Now that I'm back home and somewhat back into my routine, I've had the chance to reflect a bit more on my time in New York.

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This time last week I had hoped to be basking in the afterglow of running one of the world's greatest marathons but the devastating events of this past week altered those plans.  From the get go this race was never going to be about time for me.  It was going to be all about the experience.  Given the events of the week leading up to the race and the big divide in public opinion in regards to the race, I wondered just what kind of experience I would have.  Probably not the one I hoped for.  I was surprised when Mayor Bloomberg had said that the race was going to go on.  The devastation that we were seeing on the news was pretty bad.  I wondered if we'd even be able to get to New York, let alone run.  But New Yorkers are a tough bunch of people.  By Thursday their airports were open and flights had resumed.  Transit service had started in some parts of Manhattan.  We called Porter Airlines on Thursday morning and they were back on schedule.  I had thought about cancelling the entire trip altogether but as G said, we had booked the time off and we'd be lucky if we could re-coup any of our costs.  So we were going regardless of what was happening on Sunday.  Mentally I was ready to race.  I had finally gotten my head into the right place.

It wasn't meant to be.  When we got in from the race expo and sat down to relax a bit before heading out to dinner, we saw the breaking news:  The 2012 ING New York City Marathon was cancelled.

My heart sank.  I felt a range of emotions from anger to disappointment to sadness. Anger that they waited till 36 hours out, disappointment that I wasn't going to cross that finish line, sadness that I wasn't going to be able to experience what I came to New York for.  All purely selfish reasons and ones that are incredibly insignificant given what has transpired in NYC.   But training for NYC had been my reality for the last 16 weeks so for that goal not to come to fruition was a disappointment.  I ended up having that beer that G had offered earlier. We then went out and had a late dinner and I drowned my sorrows in a couple of glasses of red wine.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling a lot better about things.  Mayor Bloomberg made the right call.   I don't know if I could have run 26.2 miles knowing that the borough we were starting in was the hardest hit.  The last thing they needed was 40,000 + runners invading their decimated island.  I get the wishful thinking that perhaps they could have pulled it off but realistically they should have
cancelled this right after Sandy hit.  Period.  No questions.  I had brought all sorts of things with me to keep warm at the start line so donating all my clothes and the blanket I brought to a local collection for victims just seemed like the right thing to do.  A marathon seemed so trivial in light of what was going on.

Once I heard that the race was cancelled I had decided that I was going to go for a run on Sunday in Central Park regardless.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that had that thought.  There were some hardy souls that were going to run the 10km loop in Central Park 4 times just like it was done in the old days.  I wasn't going to do 4 loops but I figured I'd run at least 20km.  G decided to join me for 10 of it.  I was amazed when we got into the park.  It was literally packed with runners.  I'd estimate there were about 20,000 people.  Many of them wearing their official NYCM shirts, their race bibs or their country colours.  It was spectacular.  There were even people cheering with homemade signs.  On my second loop I passed an impromptu water station.  Sure the crowds were small but they were there none the less.  And pretty much every runner I saw was smiling.  Sure we might not have crossed the finish line or gotten a medal but we were all doing what we loved to do, together.
20,000 runners enjoying a beautiful day in Central Park

You and I have a date next year.
I know I ran almost every step of those 2.5 laps thinking of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  I'm sure that many of the other runners out there were thinking the same thing.  It was only afterwards that I found out about the large group of people that had actually gone to Staten Island that morning to volunteer their time.  Simply amazing.  And people were saying that runners are selfish?

Part of me is disappointed that I didn't get to run the actual race but I'm sure once the NYRR re-groups and figures out a plan of action we'll get an opportunity to participate next year.   The other part of me is kind of glad that it didn't happen because if it did, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn't have explored the city like I did.  It was my first time in New York and there was so much I wanted to do while I was there.  So while I may have missed out on one experience, I certainly made up for it with others.  Had I raced, I probably would have spent the rest of the day hobbling around the apartment.  But instead, we spent that afternoon walking in the sun along Museum Mile, exploring the Guggenheim and window shopping.  I may have only run 25km while I was in NYC but I know I walked at least 50km.  On the Monday, we walked from Battery Park all the way back up to our apartment at 92nd and Central Park West.  10 miles.  10. Freaking. Miles.  And that was only one of the 5 days we were there.  I think we walked through pretty much every neighbourhood on the west side of the city.  It was a wonderful trip.  I'm looking at it like a trial run for next year.  I know where the race expo is.  I know where I'll need to catch the bus on race morning, I know where I'll want to stay next year and most importantly, I know what to expect in those last 3 miles.   I suspect I'll go into next year's race feeling much more relaxed about it all and that can never be a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

I'll see you next year, for reals.
I had planned on scaling back on my running and letting my body heal after the marathon.  That plan hasn't changed.  I took this entire week off and will probably head out for a nice easy hour long run on Saturday-my first in almost a week.  I'm missing the miles, the sound of my breath and the joy of moving my body.  I can never stay away for too long.   As for my race season, I think it's done...I'll see how I feel after Paris in December.

Happy Trails.
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