"Like many of our friends, we run and compete for personal reasons. We have learned to take the measure of ourselves, and not to let others define who we are." - Amby Burfoot, NYTimes
So it's been about a week and a half since I became a marathoner. A MARATHONER!
But let's back up a little bit. As everyone knows, the NYC Marathon was canceled. I don't really want to go into great detail about my personal opinion over the cancellation and what I believe Bloomberg & Wittenberg should have done following Sandy. My friends and family know how I felt, and I don't think it's necessary to go into it again.
What I will say is that I was depressed the days leading up to the cancellation - for many reasons. I felt like EVERYONE was telling me what I should do and feel about the situation. And that if I decided to run or feel something to the contrary, I was obviously a selfish, horrible person. What's funny is that people who felt this way never came to me to just ask me my opinion, or try to understand my decisions or feelings. There was just blinding anger. And I felt like it was all directed towards me.
While I'm sure that this was not truly the case with everyone, I really felt that people were deeply angry at me. And then groups began forming to boo runners on the course (which obviously helps the relief effort), and threats of hurting runners started coming out. And that's when I knew that people actually were deeply angry at me. It wasn't in my head. People I didn't even know were getting together to try to physically or verbally hurt me.
This blew me away. We were all running for deeply personal reasons. A lot of us were running for charities (including Anand, my brother, and I. My parents were raising money in our names for a charity that they're a part of). I had running buddies who had battled cancer, some who were training with MS & didn't know if there would be a next year, others who battled horrible tragedies only to come out on the other side feeling superhuman. So many beautiful tragic stories, reduced to one word in some people's minds - selfishness. I just couldn't understand why it had to be so black and white. It actually made me feel for Muslims in NYC directly after September 11th. Because let's be brutally honest - there was a lot of embarrassing misdirected hate during that time as well. And I know that because I lived here and heard it.
By the time the cancellation happened, I was relieved (again, for many reasons). And I was also ready to leave NYC and the people who had come to judge me without even talking to me.
Anand and I weighed our options, but after seeing that Richmond was labeled as the "Friendliest Marathon in America" (funny that, that comes from the Confederate Capital), I knew I had to do it. I raced home and told Anand to register. We would figure it out somehow. I needed friendliness. I needed to feel something else other than stones.
And that's how and why I chose Richmond as my first marathon.
To be continued...
*And for the record, I had family members with flooded homes, and others who lost their homes, and tons of family and friends who lost power for days/weeks. And those 2 children who were washed away in Staten Island - well, they were children who were part of my agency (I can't go into further detail about that). So the comments stating that people who were planning to run just didn't care and were "obviously not affected by Sandy," were especially hurtful and truly angered me. Please think and ruminate thoughts before you say blanket statements, people!*