I still didn’t want to run the race. It even became clear that running the race might be unsafe for the runners, and that terrified me.
I spent the rest of Friday cleaning the apartment before my weekend visitors arrived. Emily was coming up from D.C., Lauren and her husband were driving down from Vermont, and my best friend Becky and her husband were flying up from Charlotte, NC. All my favorite people were coming to town for a weekend that I had such mixed emotions toward.
And then — finally — the race was canceled.
I was upset. I was relieved. I no longer had to make the decision about whether or not to run.
But I still wanted to run.
I didn’t want to run the NYC Marathon. But I wanted to run a marathon.
Twitter was overtaken by runners in support of the city’s decision to ultimately cancel the race — but those same runners, understandably, wanted to do something with their training. They made plans to go to Richmond or Rehoboth to run upcoming marathons.
I didn’t want to run those marathons. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.
So I just got drunk and decided I’d figure out the running stuff later. I didn’t have the amazing 16 weeks of training behind me. I knew my sub-4:00 time goal I’d set at the start of 2012 was far-reaching, and I knew traveling to Richmond, Rehoboth or somewhere else with a close-by marathon wasn’t feasible for me in the next few weeks.
All the while, I kept having those same feelings of guilt I’d felt all week: I was thinking about running while people in the city were suffering. Badly.
I woke up Saturday morning and knew I needed to run. That’s just what I do. It’s how I escape and it’s how I feel better.
The backlash toward runners online during the week really got to me. I think as runners, whether we were planning to run the marathon or not, we felt attacked. It was just…overwhelming.
And I don’t do so well with “overwhelming.”
So when my plans weren’t going to go as I’d expected, I made a new plan.
Because I can’t solve all the world’s great problems. I can’t go back in time and change Hurricane Sandy’s course. But I can plan stuff, and that’s what I needed to do this weekend.
I laid in bed Saturday morning with my friend Google.
I discovered the Manchester City Marathon.
You know who lives 25 minutes from Manchester, NH?
Oh right. My entire family.
When life hands you lemons, cuddle with a baby.
I could still run a marathon on November 4.
I threw the idea out there to Lauren and Evan and got Emily on GChat (though I knew convincing her would be easy).
Everyone was in.
I was excited. I was going to run a marathon! I was going to New Hampshire with my favorite people, to stay with my family and I was going to escape the nastiness that was polluting NYC. The nastiness, of course, being social media.
So we got in the car and we drove north.
And as we drove, I read Twitter.
I was escaping the city to run a marathon, and now runners were organizing charitable ways to help, like running through Staten Island with bags full of supplies and food.
The guilt and conflicting emotions wouldn’t go away. I felt guilty because I was excited to see my family and to get to run a marathon after all. I felt guilty because runners were staying behind to help while I was, literally, running away.
But then I realized: Staten Island doesn’t just need help on what happened to be marathon day. I could still help. I could still donate the three bags of clothes I pulled together during the week, and I could still donate monetarily. And this week, I can continue to help. (This is me continuing to feel slightly guilty for missing out on the specific efforts made yesterday.)
In the end, though, I got the weekend I’ve been needing for a long time.
Hey, brother. You’re the best.
I turned off Twitter while I was gone, and by “turned off Twitter” I mean “I don’t get service at my mom and dad’s house in New Hampshire.”
My mom was thrilled to take us in, and I was happy to sleep in my childhood bed for a night.
And then, as planned, I woke up Sunday morning (much later than planned) and I ran a marathon.
EMILY, LOOK. LOOK WHAT WE DID!
And, as planned, I PR’d.
Official time 3:51:20
More on that tomorrow.