This morning, I set my alarm for the new seven o’clock and headed toward Central Park.
I was unsure what I would find when I got there, but committed to running my usual 15k weekend long run. It is no secret now that the New York City Marathon, scheduled for today, was cancelled. But what you may not know, it that thousands gathered in Central Park this morning to run it anyway.
I chose to refrain from comment during the debates that raged on throughout last week over whether the marathon should still be held, given the beating our city took from Hurricane Sandy. After all, my neighborhood didn’t really suffer any damage from the storm; and although I see pictures in the news and on the internet, it is difficult for me to envision what others are experiencing. Moreover, I wasn’t personally invested in the marathon. I applied to this year’s lottery, but didn’t get in.
Yet, somehow this morning, I found myself running the NYC Marathon – a small part of it anyway. I only had to cross over Lexington, Park, Madison and Fifth Avenues in order to get there. But many among the thousands of runners running alongside me came from Oslo, London, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Los Angeles, Portland, and scores of other cities and small towns around the globe. Some ran for a cause they had committed to running for, others ran to raise money and awareness in the days following Hurricane Sandy, and some ran simply because they had gotten themselves here – to New York, with the plan to run.
As I ran, I saw runners wearing matching shirts and sneakers, some with their NYC Marathon race bibs pinned to their shirts. As I ran, I heard runners speaking in Hebrew, French, Italian, German, and English with several different accents. I passed what was to be the finish line, fenced in and fully enclosed; thousands standing still there in shock that the race they trained for would not proceed as planned.
Mostly, however, what I saw and experienced this morning in Central Park, was a true testament to the resilience of runners. It didn’t matter that they weren’t running the route they had planned to run, or that water and food stations were unavailable, or that medals would not be handed out at the finish. They came to run 26.2 miles in this city, and many still did. There were parts of my run where I felt that I was participating in a vigil for a race that could not be held, and other parts of my run where I was so convinced that I was running a race that I even looked down at my foot to see if my D-tag was properly secured.
It felt very spiritual. And I felt like I was a part of something very important.
I imagine those are some of the feelings one experiences when they are running a marathon.