What a week. Words cannot begin to encapsulate all of the events and emotions that have transpired in 7 short and yet so terribly long days. I certainly thought this time last week that my 8th marathon and conclusion of “The Summer of Ing” would end very differently.
Irrespective of where you were on the journey that ultimately concluded with the decision to not hold the ING New York City Marathon, the final decision was the correct one. It was the only decision that could give the city and runners collective emotional relief to move on with the process of healing, focus on rebuilding all communities of New York, and focus attention on people who really need help today.
The ladies of the MAD COOL RUNNING CREW were disappointed but of course understood why the 5K race the day before the marathon had been cancelled. There were many tough things about this week. I was one of the fortunate ones who didn’t lose power and only lost a grill I didn’t know how to operate in the first place, so who cares.
For those who lost power, property, and homes and in some cases loved ones, I can’t even begin to understand the trauma that you have endured and in many cases still enduring. For even the fortunate ones, due to being sequestered to our homes, lack of transportation, there was an unsettling sense of isolation. New York normally is a very social city. People congregating and communing is a natural part of the rhythm of the city. We had none of this, this week. Alone we sat. Some of is in the dark.
So when one member from the MAD COOL RUNNING CREW suggested we hold our own 5K race, I thought it was a BRILLIANT idea. We met at the McDonald’s at 145th and Broadway. It was COLD! But we were so excited to see each other. We ran our 1.6 miles out and back on Riverside. We laughed, felt energized, and then discussed the recovery effort and what we could do to help.
When I left them I was so moved, their spirit made me cry. I thought this is what New York is about. This is what community is about. This is what it means to be supported. This really is my CREW.
The next morning I went to Pathmark grocery. Bought as many supplies as my backpack and two hands could carry and headed to a hotel near Central Park to meet one of my fellow runners. While waiting in the lobby, I saw runners from all over the world, with their various country signs and charities, gearing up to run in Central Park and then donate supplies. The thought of the miles they had traveled, the money they had raised for charity, the effort that had gone into prepping and training for this race (for many this their first marathon) the desire to honor their charitable commitments and run anyway, it made me cry. This sport is not about miles or times, it’s about heart and commitment. Their efforts were not lost on me.
When I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry, there were literally a thousand other runners there, all geared up with supplies ready to help.
After walking miles to get to areas with people who needed our help and feeling a little disheartened that maybe we were not going to be effective in our volunteer efforts, we finally came across a community that did need our help. We were also able to drop off supplies and help with packing at a distribution center.
I can’t speak in the macro of how supplies will be disseminated, when, and to whom, but I can say for sure 3 families got items from me directly that hopefully will help them to be just a little bit more comfortable TODAY in this incredibly challenging time. One had a baby and really did need the diaper ointment and baby wipes. Others really did need the food, toothpaste and shampoo. Nothing meant more to me than to see they were really grateful and to hear from other community members that we really were helping and not being a nuisance.
So the “Summer of Ing” is over. It didn’t end the way I thought but it did end leaving me with a tremendous sense of gratitude for my friends and family, and a reminder of how truly fragile our lives are. We must help and support each other. We must think of others and we must live life to the fullest.
It didn’t end the way I expected, but it ended with the most important “ing” of all. An appreciation for living.