Friday, November 9, 2012

My first marathon

I have tried over a dozen times in the past week to figure out what I wanted to say on this and how to do it by properly expressing my feelings and I keep coming back to anger, hurt and heartbroken on so many different levels of each. Then, I read this article and I highly suggest you take a second to do the same. Mike Cassidy said it better than I ever could.

It's also taken me this long to grasp exactly how I feel about what Nov. 4 was supposed to be and what it turned into. My official stance? I am utterly mystified over the vilification of runners that happened surrounding the NYCM controversy; especially by other runners. 

In the short amount of time I've been apart of this amazing community, never has it ever been a bad thing to be a runner. A bat shit crazy thing? Sure! What sane person does what we do? It takes a special kind of strong to even imagine accomplishing something like that, let alone actually do it. Yet with all the crazy and all the masochism, I've never met a more supportive, positive, self giving group of people in my life. Even with some of the douchey elitist faster runners, at the end of the day we are a community of people who get it; who get me! I've never been apart of anything so accepting before and I highly suggest if you don't have your own community, find one. I would've never imagined in a million years anyone would say anything to any degree of what was said via social media in the past week. Not gonna lie, I got angry; really angry.

So, I did the only thing I could do (without getting arrested). I ran on Sunday anyway. I ran because life was so over whelming at that moment that that's the only thing I could do. Running has turned into my place to think, especially when life gives me something I need to work out. So, I had a nice long run to think about things. 26.2 miles, to be exact. I ran into Manhattan to meet the PIC and we set out to run out all of our frustrations (thank you, taper madness. You are a real thing and were not helping matters). There were lots of tears, lots of yelling and lots of cursing. PS- I'm pretty sure mad enough, anyone can run a marathon.

Then there was a beautiful moment as we started getting closer to the park. You could hear cheers and when you got even closer, you could see a completely jam packed Central Park (the best summer day had nothing on this). People were cheering harder than I've ever seen. There were make-shift water and aid stations everywhere. Runners were cheering each other on, high-fiving, and helping each other out. It truly was the 26 mile block party everyone claims the NYCM is, but even better. The positive energy wrapped itself around you, and carried you through your run. I've never experienced anything like it before. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

As we joined the stream of runners (clockwise on the outside, counter on the inside. For being unofficial, it was quite organized), it was very apparent that these people weren't and could never be the evil that those sitting in the comforts that others had lost were trying to make them out to be. Everywhere you looked someone had on a charity singlet or a personalized shirt for the person they were running for. Charity or not, selfish or not we all have our own reasons for running and who the hell are you to judge? At that moment, I didn't care what anyone thought. This was a moment that would (hopefully) never have to happen again and I wasn't going to forget, so I made sure to soak up every inch of it.

The A team!
This race has always been about the battle between me and New York City. We were going to come to an understanding that day; mainly that no matter what it tried to throw at me, it would never beat me. And I proved to it that it didn't. It would've been nice to be the love letter I originally wanted it to be, but I'm ok with what it turned into. It almost felt fitting. I came to realize that a marathon is the ultimate metaphor for life and given the chance, there is always good. 
Even after those many many hours, I am still at a loss. I am not as angry, but I'm still heartbroken that this city had to go through this and I'm still hurt about the way the situation was escalated. It was such an unnecessary battle when there are still so many others vastly more important. I do know that there is no quick-fix to recover from this; any of this. 

I really hope time brings perspective. 


  1. So I have to tell you, this post brought tears to my eyes. Your description of the scene at Central Park is absolutely beautiful, and what is good about the running community. I didn't weigh in on the cancel vs not cancel because I wasn't there and I didn't train for months on end for a race that was cancelled. But I'm with you - I do not understand the vilification that took place. I'm so glad you got your race, even if it wasn't what you were expecting. :)

    1. Oh, Emily! It was so much more than I could even put into words. I cried like 5 times that day.

      Thank you! I am really sad it had to happen the way it did, but in a weird way, it was even better.

  2. Very well said, Abby. I secretly kept checking to see what you had to say about this since you live in NYC. (I just realized I owed you an email, Gah. Sorry.)

    I'm actually thankful that if the race was going to be cancelled, I already happened to be in NYC, because Marathon weekend (marathon or no) was an experience like no other. Central Park was amazing and running with a team only enhanced the feeling of camradery.

    I felt pretty hostile at the vilification of the runners as well. How did we become scapegoats? I'm glad I was able to speak with locals working at restaurants and hotels that said that they were happy we were there because they needed to work.

    And wow. Kudos to you for running the 26.2 anyway. You're a super star. We started drinking Friday and didn't stop until Sunday. Oopsy. Can't wait to meet you at WDW under cheerier circumstances. :)

    1. Sorry it took so long to post! Trust me, the 1st 12 drafts of this was pure anger and hatred, if I would've posted earlier, I would've been no better than the other disgusting humans.

      The fact that it was canceled so late was a big thing for me. Cancel it on Tuesday or not at all. Everyone would've understood on Tuesday. On Friday, after repeatedly saying the course was fine and it was possible? NOT cool. I was already torn enough about running, then after finally allowing myself to get excited about it, you cancel it WHILE I'm at the expo? I took that really really hard.

      So many people moved heaven and earth to get here for nothing. So, now you have 40,000 people taking up those precious resources people were concerned about but nothing to show and a lot more anger. The segregation this storm caused baffles me. I come from New Orleans, where when a storm hits, we pull together. But I digress. New Yorkers will never understand. But whatev.

      I'm so glad you got to experience the park, too. It was such an amazing vibe. I'm so glad you had a positive time! Hope to see you here next year? I'll be cheering from the sidelines. ha!

      TOTALLY cannot wait to meet at Disney! Hope your training gets better!

  3. YOU RAN THE WHOLE THING?!?!?!?! That is amazing. I thought about it, and I tried to get some people on my team on board, but ultimately, it wasn't the way I wanted to experience my first marathon. The whole situation was definitely challenging, and I felt the same sense of heart break. As much as I hate to know anyone else felt that sadness, it is nice to know that other people felt as strongly as I did. I'm so glad you came over to my blog and that I got to read your incredible story!!!

    1. Honestly, I said I was going to run the whole thing, but if I only felt like doing 20, I'd be ok with it. Then I got to the park. The energy was so amazing I had to finish what I started.

      I'm glad you got to experience it, too! and I hope your first one is as amazing!!

  4. Thanks for posting the link to Mike Cassidy's article - I really appreciated his perspective as a professional runner and Staten Islander. I was registered to volunteer at the finish line, so although my disappointment was nothing like what the runners were feeling, I was very saddened by the whole situation. I ran one loop of CP on marathon Sunday with the runners and it was such an incredible experience. I almost started crying. It really renewed my faith in people and my love for New York! I'm glad you got to experience that as well. A HUGE congrats for running 26.2 miles!

    1. No prob! The article really sums up how I feel, too.

      Thank you again for signing up to volunteer. Hopefully next year will be better.

  5. I'm glad you ran! I was planning on doing this race vicariously through you. When all this went down I was Happy it was still on! Then disappointed when it was off. Then pissed off. Then annoyed. Then happy to see you did do it! I can't even imagine what I'd be feeling if Portland got canceled after I already picked up my bib and after all of the hard work going in to preparing for it. Ugh.

    So now onward and upward to Walt Disney World! I think we'll be safe on the hurricanes this time ... but it is Florida and the weather is always funky when I go, so who knows!

    I'm so excited to type this ..... SEE YOU SOON!!

    1. Maybe you'll have to do it next year, depending on what the hell is going on with it.

      Those are all the emotions I went through, too, so there was no way I couldn't run. I did it to save the world from another homicidal maniac ;) (which holy crap. . .maybe that's their problem!) I guarantee I wouldn't have taken it so hard if they just would've cancelled it right away. And knowing that it could've gone it will always be a soft spot.

      But anyway- yes, Disney marathon! I need to get excited, bc right now I'm like WTF was I thinking?! haha!!