In case you were wondering how the weekend went….
As many of you know, Warren (my husband) and I were on deck to run the New York Marathon last weekend. I got in via the lottery and Warren was running via the charity runner program running for UNICEF.
It would have been Warren's second marathon and my 11th. We spent the summer and fall training together (Warren ran with me as I was getting ready for Ironman Wisconsin and then continued to train after Imoo was over….) Our goal was to run the race together, not worry about our time and to just have fun.
Enter Hurricane Sandy.
After the storm hit the east coast, we debated for a long time about going to run the race. Race and city officials assured us that the race would go on, but we weren't sure that this was the right time to run the race…. That if the race did in fact happen, there would be a cloud over it.
We finally decided to go (everything was already paid for; we'd either run or not, but either way, we'd have a very interesting experience).
We arrived in New York on Friday afternoon. We stayed near Times Square and, from our location, you would not have known there had been a storm. Everything above ground from 39th Street up was running smoothly. There was power, food, water, cell coverage.
The local news was very much 24/7 Sandy coverage. The areas hardest hit were lower Manhattan, Staten Island, and parts of Queens/Long Island. It was hard to imagine the water, the sand and the damage unless you saw the footage.
We were just leaving for a UNICEF-hosted dinner when officials announced the cancellation of the race. Warren and I just looked at each other and shrugged. What was there to do? On the one hand, we were disappointed but on the other, much bigger hand, we both understood this was the right decision.
Now on to Plan B.
We went to the UNICEF dinner and met some really incredible people from all across the world that had trained and raised money. About half of the runners were doing New York as their very first marathon. Again, people were disappointed, but everyone understood the reasoning for cancelling the race. The organizers let the runners know that the money raised was already being put to good use, funding projects aimed towards immunizations and providing clean water. During dinner, NY locals filled others in on volunteer opportunities available throughout the city where we could help those that had been impacted by Sandy.
So on Saturday, Warren and I walked down to lower Manhattan and volunteered for several hours. We helped provide food and water to people (mostly elderly) that lived in high rise apartments. Their electricity had just been turned on that morning, so they could finally get out of their apartments. Again, we met some really terrific people -- other volunteers and those in need -- who were kind and generous and only wanted to help.
Sunday, the UNICEF team met in Central Park, where we joined thousands (literally) of other runners that created an impromptu run. We ran loops of the park (which was the original marathon course, back in the day). Runners from all across the world, along with wheelers and Achilles Runners (those who are disabled) and their guides were there. We also had many, many spectators along the course that cheered us on and provided water (on their own dime). It was a very special event.
While not the race we expected, Warren and I were able to accomplish what we set out to do: we ran together, we didn't worry about time; we had fun. It was a very interesting experience indeed.
We also had one additional benefit we didn't plan for, but which made our weekend: we had the chance to give back a little, providing a little time, some kind words and a little cash (in the form of donations to relief organizations).
Thanksgiving is coming up. Personally, this is my favorite holiday. I get to spend time with family, have a meal I love, and still usually find some time to reflect back and to be grateful for the gifts that have come my way: health, friends and family, a warm house. I'm thankful that I have the means to help others in need and I encourage you to give back in ways that you can to the people/places/organizations that are meaningful to you. I'm willing to bet that you'll receive much more in karmic returns than you ever could have expected.
You will all be on my gratitude list this year…. Just so you know.