Friday, November 1, 2013

NYC Marathon - A Year Later

A year ago this weekend, I was in New York City for the 2012 ING New York City Marathon. It was intended to be my first Big Apple race and Abby's first ever 26.2. It goes without saying that nothing happened as planned. In the year since, I haven't talked much about those events; however, with the 2013 ING New York City Marathon happening on Sunday, I know it's time for me get my thoughts on paper and move on.

After months of planning and training for the 2012 race, Abby and I had laid out a full weekend of running events. Her sister, Adrienne, was flying up from New Orleans the same day as I to cheer Abby on, and we knew it was going to be memorable. After Hurricane Sandy shook the north eastern seaboard a week prior to the race, questions arose as to whether we would be able to get there, much less if the race would go on. Being a New Orleanian who experienced the aftermath of Katrina, I knew the circumstances were well out of our control and had accepted whatever decision would be made.

Eventually, the New York Road Runners had said the race would go on, registration refunds would not be issued, and if you could get to New York, get there ASAP. Airlines started flying late that week, and while our flights were cancelled, Adrienne and I were able to fly to Providence, Rhode Island and rent a car to drive to Brooklyn. Get there, we did.

Hours after our arrival on Friday morning, political voices rose up saying that the race should be cancelled. They argued that the 5 Burroughs couldn't nor shouldn't support a race of the marathon's magnitude under the post-Sandy conditions. I couldn't argue with their thought process, but thousands of runners were already in the city prepping for Sunday morning. Flight after flight was arriving with domestic and international runners who had been guaranteed a race. The mayor of New York City said that the race would go on.

On Saturday, Abby, Adrienne and I trekked in to Manhattan via a ferry and two busses. The subway system was still down and it was an epic journey to get to the expo to pick up our race bibs. The convention center was swarmed with runners all excited for the race. We grabbed our shirts and bibs, and took the above picture. Abby went to purchase race merchandise from her first marathon, and I walked around while posting the photo to Facebook. Literally 2 minutes after the photo was taken I started getting notifications of comments on the photo. Friends back home were asking if I'd heard about the race being cancelled. I could literally hear the buzzing swell around me as fellow participants started checking their phones and received the news. The collective emotion in the building was thick, and reactions ranged from complete breakdowns to blank stares. I had never experienced anything like it.

Fast forward 24 hours, and the running community in New York City had persevered in spite of the cancellation. Many traveled to storm ravaged communities to volunteer and aid in hurricane relief. Abby, along with thousands of others, decided to run their 26.2 regardless and took over Central Park. I didn't think I could mentally handle a marathon unsupported, so I chose to join Adrienne and cheer her sister on as she finished her first full. Again, the emotions were palpable as runners crossed paths in the park.  This time, however, they were high as people rallied together in support of each other. The sea of orange participant shirts was amazing.

The collective sentiment of the weekend was that of disappointment and frustration, but understanding. Had the decision been made earlier in the week to cancel the race, no one with solid reasoning would have thought twice or complained. The lack of communication post-cancellation was also frustrating, but it didn't leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I took the refund option that NYRR offered, deciding that getting guaranteed entry to a future year wasn't worth the double registration fee. I chalked up the rest of the expenses of the weekend as an experience that I'll never forget, for better or worse.

Months later, when the option to enter the lottery was available, I registered to participate in the 2013 race. I didn't get in, but that's ok. I'll be back in the running for 2014, 2015, or whenever the endurance sports gods deem it my turn. The NYC Marathon is something I can't wait to experience. Abby, now a seasoned marathoner, is finally getting to have her shot this weekend. I know she'll rock it, as will nearly 40,000 others participants who'll line up at the Verrazano Narrows on Sunday morning.


  1. It is hard to believe it was a year ago. I remember you being up there and being sad for you and Abby.
    Great post! I am looking forward to Abby's recap and running the race one day with you!

    1. Thanks Karen! We made the best of the weekend. I had some great meals in Brooklyn! Now we have NYC and Marine Corps lotteries to apply to next year. Watch us get in to both! (fingers crossed)