What a week it's been. The damage of this hurricane really took everyone by surprise. Were we all really that comfortable from the non-hurricane (at least for New Yorkers) that was Irene that we really didn't take Sandy seriously?
I've lived in NYC now for eight years. That's sort of a long time as a young adult, but I did not grow up here. I do not have roots here - I am only beginning to really create some solid roots, truly. I was three years too late for 9/11. It is possible that I have a terrible memory and am forgetting some event so great that my amnesia offends. But I don't think I've ever been in the midst of New Yorkers in grief.
And still, even post-Sandy, I am not really in the midst of grief. My small community is all accounted for - no losses. My apartment was able to retain power and no damage - though the winds Monday night were so loud that I moved all my furniture away from the window and tried to barricade it (I really thought car parts or tree branches were going to fly through my wall).
But when I look at pictures of the areas that did get heavily hit, it is sobering. Where there once was the Jersey shore, there now sits a roller coaster in the ocean. Below 40th street, people are looking for phone chargers or batteries. Hospitals are getting evacuated, bringing anxiety to the patients and their families. People wait in long lines to fill up their gas. The power outages - in a city that never sleeps, the darkness (and probably silence) is unfamiliar territory. And then, there are the bodies that are being discovered - many of them on Staten Island.
There are two different cities happening right now. Media like the NYTimes and The Daily Show has pointed this out - one city is in darkness and need of reconstruction - the other is wondering what to get for brunch. I see posts on my Facebook newsfeed from various fellow New Yorkers - some posts are frivolous banter while others pine for a shower. I actually got to see a taping of the Colbert Report this week. I posted a photo to my Instagram account, but deleted it seconds after it had been published. I felt torn about being able to enjoy something that others could not afford to even care about.
There is another polarity rising this week, after Mayor Bloomberg's announcement that the ING NYC Marathon is still on. My initial reaction frankly was not frustration but as I read others' opinions about the decision, I became more torn about my decision to still run. I thought the marathon would be a bright spot in the midst of devastation, but it is true that this sort of event is really is too soon. At the same time, our city has taken a big hit - and we could use a reason to cheer. I do think there is no good or right decision here.
For New Yorkers, Sandy really has ushered in conversation topics that allow for little middle ground. The hurricane either inconvenienced you - or it didn't. The marathon call is either something to go along with - or protest, especially as a participant.
I'm still going to run in the marathon. I actually would have been ok with it being cancelled (I actually think I could get injured on Sunday) - but it's still on and I am not going to protest this by not running. And my thoughts end there. I'm keeping them personal to me and will refrain from speaking for what I think is right for the other 45,000 people running in this race as well as the rest of the city as potential spectators. I've read some opinions that the NY Daily News obtained from random people (link). There are people for this marathon and there are people against it.
If my week had been any other way, I would defer and not run the race. But it's simple as this: the marathon is on, I've been given a week to rest at home (from the hurricane aftermath of all things), I've been training for a year, I have the opportunity - I'm doing it.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. Here are the things I can remember off the top of my head:
1. I ran 18 miles! I took my friend's (Matt's) spot in the NYRR 18-mile Tune-Up on a lovely Sunday morning. Definitely lowered his NYRR stats, if they do keep track (and they seem like they would). The race consisted of three big loops in Central Park. It was such great prep for the big race - getting a taste of the crowds, even if on a smaller scale, and sharpening my focus on finishing the race. I stopped at mile 15 and took a stretch break. Going into the race, I had decided to see how my body felt around miles 14 and 15 and make a decision then on whether to run the last three. I could have used a stopping point at mile 15, but I couldn't put it away that three miles was all it would take to finish the race. It also helped to remember that I would get a free bagel and banana at the end. So I stretched and then ran the last three at a much slower pace.
2. I got sick! The weekend of the Tune-Up was so packed. Friday had women's group after work. Right after that, I rushed off to welcome my cousin - who flew in from Korea to start her 10-month internship in the city - into my apartment. The following morning, Josie drove into town and the three of us walked around and did morning errands. That was followed by Steph's baby shower which was luckily nearby in the same neighborhood. Later that night (still on Saturday, folks), we went out and celebrated Josie's birthday and passing of Step 3. The next morning was the 18-mile run where I woke up at 6 AM to get the bib and head to the park. You would think my weekend ended after the run, but no - I was on children's ministry duty at church in the afternoon. Luckily, the kids were good that day but even on a normal Sunday, I make sure to chug a cup of coffee before leading a children's session. They really command all of your attention and energy!
Anyway, that week, I began to fall sick with a cough. I'm still recovering from it (slowest recovery EVER) and have had to cut down my number of runs drastically. I get restless but people are advising me not to aggravate my body...
3. ...Which kind of leads to my next thing - running has actually become a thing of comfort for me. I think this is a great sign of progress compared to last year, when a mile was like a death call for me. If you ask Chris about my beginnings, he will tell you that I'd start emitting weird noises around mile 1. I always feel great and a little more energized after a run.
4. Lastly, one of my old college friends, Brian, who is running this year via charity, held a fundraiser for the Children's Museum of the Arts. The event was called "JOYATHON" - a non-stop Art marathon of sorts. You can view photos of the event at this facebook page. I was actually really humbled that he asked me as well as other more legitimate artists to help offer our skills for charity. That night, I offered cartoon portraits and they were really simple in concept and in medium (vellum, sharpie and oil pastel). The past several years, I've strengthened my skills in the digital arts while letting go of my practice in the hand-drawn. I truly did arrive at the museum in a state of meekness and feeling less powerful without the tool of Photoshop. Still, the night was a great night of drawing and checking out the other artists' booths. Thanks to Charlene who came out at last minute notice!
This is a quick list of updates. The marathon is four weeks away. I'll definitely have more to post from now until then!
Yesterday, I had a busy schedule but found out I had a little bit of time to go on a run. However, I was being indecisive on whether or not to run. The thing holding me back was that there was no time for at least four miles - and a short run at this point really bothered me. It felt like a step back in my progress.
But something in this marathon training must be working, because my attitude eventually shifted. So I only have twenty minutes? I thought to myself. Ok, I'll make the most of those twenty. And so I set out on my second interval training run (ever). I ended up averaging an 8.5 min/mile for two miles - and was pretty proud of that.
And I've come a long way! You see, my first interval training run (ever) happened during one of my runs with Chris. This was no coincidence. He suggested it and I may have been grouchy at him for that for the rest of the night. The run wasn't that long but after we stopped, I was beat. I was also disappointed that we didn't do three miles that night - it was just a measly 1.8. But Chris reassured me that it was not a bad run. "Our run was short," he said that night, "but we still got a good workout by making use of that time and pushing ourselves." I saw the sense in this comment but was too tired to embrace it.
Now, I see myself slowly making friends. Recently, there were a couple of blog posts on the interwebs that served as inspiration on pushing yourself. Readingthese, I'm understanding that the most difficult workouts ARE what you want. I was valuing long runs a bit more because of the difficulty in getting through them - but I will now add intense short runs to the list as well.