Expect the Unexpected

nyc marathon cancelIn running, you need to learn to be flexible. There are always things that happen out of your control that you must learn to deal with.  The more races you run, the better prepared you’ll be.  I couldn’t prepare myself for the cancellation of the NYC Marathon this year. No one could. Like thousands of others, I was physically and mentally prepared to run 26.2 miles on November 4th, 2012. Only to be disappointed when it was cancelled at the last minute.

The NYC Marathon is one of the largest in the world. People come from all over the world to compete. It’s an honor just to get selected via the lottery system. I couldn’t believe I was chosen the first time I applied. I knew at that point I had to run it. Nothing was going to stop me. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to run this elite race. Immediately after I found out I was selected, I booked my hotel room, formulated a training plan, and got to work.

Fast forward to that week of November 4th. New York and New Jersey were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. A storm that devastated the east coast and left hundreds homeless, without power or food, and some without a home. With the NY subway system being under water, many wondered how and if the marathon would continue just a few days later.  But it was decided by Mayor Bloomberg that the marathon would go on.  The city needed the economic boost that would come from thousands flocking to the city and spending money. It was also a way to show the country that NY will recover and we are strong.

This created a lot of controversy and divided the public. People were outraged that the city would spend its resources supporting an athletic event so soon after this tragedy.  Still, the race was to continue on according to NYRR and the Mayor. Hundreds of people from all over the world flew in, the expo was set up and ready to go, runners were preparing their race day outfits.

I remember that Friday night well. I had left work and gone to the gym for my last run before the marathon. All I had to do was run 3 short miles and go home and pack. I was off to NYC the following morning.  I completed that run and left the gym. I looked at my cell phone and saw 8 text messages and 3 phone calls. All confirming that the Mayor had decided to cancel the marathon at the last minute. I was sad, along with thousands of other runners.

I understand why the marathon was cancelled and agree the city needed to focus on recovery efforts on the city. But what made me angry was that it was cancelled at the last minute. Had it been cancelled a few days before, everyone would have understood. Still, many runners took the streets and brought supplies to stranded refugees. They raised money and helped out in any way they could.  Instead of pouting, the NYC marathon runners focused on helping.

I went home that night and cried. I was sad that all those months of training were wasted. Then, like everyone else, I went online and decided to find myself a new race. I was leaving for Costa Rica the next weekend and couldn’t find any that fit into my schedule. Luckily, a few days later the Philadelphia Marathon opened up spots for NY marathoners.  I couldn’t be happier. It was risky because I was coming back from Costa Rica the day before but I was determined. And I did it. I showed up at that starting line. It wasn’t the NY scenery I was hoping for but it was the same 26.2 miles.

Most displace NYC marathon runners I know found other races. They had to fly around the country to do it, but they found them and found ways in.  This just goes to show you that you never know what to expect when it comes to running. You have to be flexible and open minded. Sure we probably didn’t run as well as we would have if we ran NY because our training plans were altered, but we are lucky to still have a race to run.

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Filed under Goals, Lessons Learned, Races

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