Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Marathon Diaries, Part 10: Canceled

Thursday night I met with an interviewer and photographer from The Daily News. They were doing a piece on the NYC Marathon and were covering my story. After they left, I tried on my full marathon outfit-

my marathon outfit
custom shirt & sparkle skirt!

cute, right?

I had Friday off, in anticipation of Marathon Sunday. That morning I went to Manhattan Ave and saw that overnight, the "No Parking" signs had been put up and the blue line had been painted down the street, which is part of the Marathon course. I thought "Wow, I guess this thing is really happening..."

No Parking
signs along Manhattan Ave warn drivers not to park along the marathon course or they will be towed

the blue marathon stripe must have been painted last night
the blue line has been painted

I rode my bike for the first time since the Hurricane. It was my first time over the Williamsburg Bridge since Sunday...

I couldn't believe how many pedestrians were on the Willy B. Way more than usual. Note: THIS IS THE BIKE LANE SIDE OF THE BRIDGE. Please, for the safety of yourselves and cyclists, use the Bedford Ave entrance if you're walking or running. That's the pedestrian only path. Thank you!

and my first time in Manhattan since Sunday.

I never saw so many cyclists waiting to get on the Williamsburg Bridge from Delancey & Clinton

Lower Manhattan had a very eerie vibe. There has been no power from 34th St and south since Sunday. Almost no business was open (how could they be with no power?), very few cars were on the road (with 4 hours waits to get gas, even those with cars can't drive), subway entrances were blocked off (tunnels are still flooded) and I saw people lined up along the streets waiting for supplies like dry ice, food and water. It was post apocolyptic and I felt like I was riding through a movie set.

lone sand bag
a lone sandbag sits on Clinton

hardware store closed on Ave B near Houston

L Train tunnels are still completely flooded "floor to ceiling, end to end"

I took 1st Ave all the way up to 34th Street, turning west on 34th Street. There was absolutely no power that entire stretch of Manhattan.

looking north on Lexington Ave from 34th St on a Friday afternoon. Normally this would be full of cars.

a familiar sight - the Empire State Building!
There was no electricity, that is, until I hit 34th Street and 5th Ave. That was the first time I saw a working traffic light!

Life started at 34th & 5th

I passed a marathon window display

Macy's on 34th St

I continued riding west on 34th Street all the way to 11th Ave to the (oh-so-ugly) Jacob Javits Center. That's where New York Road Runners holds a 3 day running expo, where vendors are set up and you can get marathon related information. It's also where you have to pick up your number for the race.

On my way into the expo, I had to get a photo of this guy. There are always so many hot dog carts outside the Javits Center, I don't know how any of them make any money. And although I'm anti-hot dog, I really like their carts and the characters that run them.

On my way out this man kept telling me how beautiful I am. I blew him kisses. :)
I entered the Javits Center and you could feel the excitement in the air. It was electric. For a brief moment I was able to think only about running, not about the tragedy that was affecting our city. It was nice to temporarily have that mental peace.

Welcome, runners!
I made my way over to the counter that had my number (68175)

picking up my number
she's digging for my number

When they put it on the counter in front of me, I looked at it, then touched it slowly, taking it all in. And then I cried - something I didn't expect to do. I told them it was my first marathon and I couldn't believe it was really happening.

I cried when they gave it to me
After I got my number, I wandered around the expo. It was JAM packed. And almost no one spoke English. Many of our overseas marathoner friends were already here.



I had never been to the expo and was amazed by the sheer size of it. I hadn't planned on buying anything (seriously, I wasn't going to) but Asics had a huge selection of pink items so I ended up with gloves, arm warmers, two shirts and headbands.


My favorite part of the set up was, without a doubt, the wallpaper. They had what looked like EVERY single street we would be running on, in chronological order from what I saw, as wallpaper. I would love this wallpaper in my apartment!!

Queens to Manhattan



Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Greenpoint!

self portrait in front of Williamsburg

While I was admiring the wallpaper, a young woman came up to me and told me she's a blog reader. Her name is Katie and she, her Mom and husband came in from Utah. She's here to run the NYC Marathon and they're here to support her!

Katie from Utah!
What a sweet young woman! Katie it was lovely meeting you!!
I also met one of Melanie's running team, Ryan from Hellgate Runners. He remembered me from the run I did with them a couple of weeks ago, when we ran the last 11 miles of the marathon route.

Ryan from Hellgate Runners in Queens
hola Ryan

I forget which country these guys were from but they look like quite the team
Everyone was posing with their numbers and I couldn't resist the opportunity to do the same

I love this wallpaper too - it has one panel for each borough: The Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island, the Wonder Wheel in Brooklyn's Coney Island, The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, the 4 Train in the Bronx and my iconic Chrysler Building in Manhattan. Yes, "my" Chrysler Building ;)
As I was leaving the expo, a runner on her way in lit up when she saw me. She told me she's a blog reader. We talked a while and she was so sweet. She lives in Brooklyn (DUMBO) and ran to the expo since there are still no subways between Manahattan and Brooklyn. This is Gina - she looked ready to run the marathon, she was in terrific shape!

Gina from DUMBO!
with super excited Gina from DUMBO!
Leaving the expo I was famished. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to indulge in a NYC pretzel, something I do maybe once or twice a year. It was the carbs and salt I needed (I asked for one with LOTS of salt!) and it hit the spot.

I haven't had a street cart pretzel in ages
carb loading
On my way home, I passed through Union Square where I saw so many out of state utility trucks. Workers drove up from Virginia, Alabama, Maryland and Ohio to help NYC get their power back. There were dozens of trucks! I was so touched by this outpouring of support for our city, I made sure to thank them and even became teary as I did so.

I couldn't believe how many utility workers came to NYCs rescue! Thank you, everyday heroes!
Some more pics from my ride home -

Tekserve offering a free charging station!
Tekserve on 23rd St has no power, but they brought in a generator to charge power strips so that NYers could come here to charge their electronics. For free. Kudos, Tekserve!!

the city put these out for the many people that are currently without water
2nd Ave - NYC set up these water stations attached to hydrants around the areas
that have no electricity and no water.
These are the same water stations they set up during Summer Streets.

23rd St & 6th Ave - cops on nearly every corner directing traffic
since no traffic lights south of 34th St are working.

lower Manhattanites line up for dry ice
lower Manhattites lined up for dry ice

no 4, 5, 6 or L Trains for now

free waffles courtesy of Jet Blue!
14th St by 3rd Ave: the free waffle line was LONGER than the dry ice line. Seriously.

Toy Tokyo on 2nd is closed, just like everything else on 2nd Ave downtown

hardware store on 2nd Ave is closed

no power, but they are open
this store on Stanton was open, despite having no electricity

I made it home. And after seeing all of that, and realizing it was nothing compared to the really hard it areas, I was once again thankful for everything I have.

I tried to display my marathon goodies at home but the Professor decided to sit on one of my shirts. He's such a little diva.

running stuff. cat optional.
if it's pink, I will buy it

Then I sat down to upload my photos and watch NY1 (our local 24 hour news channel in NYC). At 5:15pm, I heard "Breaking news..." 

The second I heard those two words, I knew, in my heart, what they were going to say. The city had reversed their decision and decided to cancel the marathon.

It was official. The marathon, for the first time in 42 years, would NOT go on as planned.

At that moment and for the next few hours, everything exploded -- my facebook, twitter, phone, blog comments... Many were apologetic, sorry for me that I couldn't run. Some were surprised. Some were angry. Others were relieved.

Like I wrote in my previous post, if the run was canceled I would be ok with that, and I meant it. Though I wanted to run (of course) and could see reasons to keep it, I could also understand why canceling it was the better option. I didn't want to run knowing that we, the runners, didn't have the support of our city. Keeping the run on put the runners in an awkward and potentially dangerous situation, if the negativity online was any indication of the negativity we would have encountered along the course. I didn't want my first marathon (or any event!) to have that negative cloud hanging over it.

I tried to reply to every comment (but couldn't get to them all). Here's my reaction and thoughts to the cancellation:
  1. First of all, please don't be sorry for ME. I don't need any sympathy at all! I have the ability to run. I have my health. I have food, water, shelter and clothing. I am unbelievably fortunate.
  2. So what if I trained for it? It's not like I regret the hours I devoted to it or the sacrifices I made to keep my training schedule. That's all part of a healthy lifestyle and I had a great time, lots of memories from my training. This just means I get to look forward to more adventures and the anticipation period (which I enjoy) is prolonged!
  3. Like everyone else, I feel most sorry for the people of NYC that are affected by the storm, not for those that are affected by the marathon cancellation. Then I feel bad for the tens of thousands of people that drove in or flew in for this event. People plan for this a year ahead of time! If it had been canceled sooner, it would have saved all of them time and money. I know they understand the reason for the cancellation but it was not fair to cancel it after they were already here. On behalf of NYC, I apologize to those runners! (and in defense of the city, I honestly believe that they did not yet know the extent of damage and devastation when they made the call to go on with the marathon. It seemed every day we learned more terrible details)
The bottom line is I'm ok with it. I'm at peace with the decision. I would rather run knowing that our city is in a better, more stable position and the people of NYC have love in their hearts for the runners and are out there to cheer us on -- rather than to run while knowing what's going on and that people do not support or welcome us in their neighborhoods

What now? Well... I'm not sure if NYRR and the city can realistically pull off a full marathon before the next scheduled one in November 2013. If they can do it, great! I will be there. If they can't, well, then, we just wait 52 weeks.

Other options?

Janet, a woman I met at #Fitbloggin with an unbelievably inspirational story of her own, was on her way to NYC when the news came in. Instead of coming to NYC for nothing, she decided to run a marathon in Delaware this weekend and invited me to join her. Then, there's another full marathon in Miami in January, which several people recommended I do, and one blog reader even offered for me to stay at her place! Another blog reader offered to house me for the Richmond Marathon next weekend. My dear friend Marcus suggested the Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park (the idea of 8 loops around that park is not even remotely appealing, ha-ha, but thank you!). And my crazy runner friend Mary Harvey, who it seems runs a full marathon every weekend (barely an exaggeration) invited me to "double" with her next weekend (whatever that means).

But the thing is this:

I don't feel like I *need* to run a marathon because I trained for it. In fact, it doesn't matter to me at all that I'm trained and ready. It doesn't matter because my goal is not simply to run 26.2 miles. My goal is not to run a marathon. My DREAM is to run the New York City Marathon!!! I want the memory of my first marathon to be me making my way through the 5 boroughs of the city I love and am lucky enough to call home. I want to feel the love and support of those 2 million spectators. There is nothing more magical than the New York City Marathon and it will be my first marathon. If that means I need to wait a year, I will wait a year. It just gives me that much longer to look forward to it. In the meantime, I will continue to train. And dream.

Finally, thank you all for your well wishes for me and for our city. New Yorkers are strong. We'll get through this. If you want to volunteer, you can register here. If you want to donate, you can do so here.


  1. You are fabulous. Best wishes to you and to NYC.

  2. you are awesome.
    this has been such a carnival ride for ALL INVOLVED and your positive spirit and attitude captures the best of what we all should aspire to be.


  3. This is why you are a true NY'er and one who loves to run in her town. You want it to be your first. Just like how I wanted Chicago to my first as well. (damn sounds like i'm talking about something else!) You had trained both physically and mentally so you were more than well prepared.

    As always you are an inspiration. Lot's of hugs and good beer your way!

  4. Sheryl I haven't commented in a VERY long time but I do read every post.

    When I first started reading this and saw the post title my heart started breaking for you. I know how devastated I would be if I had trained so hard for an event and it got cancelled. I know I was quite down when I had to sell my 1/2 marathon bib for the Ottawa Army Run due to an injury!!!

    But reading on, as usual you have the best attitude ever. I'll stayed tuned for your FIRST EVER NY Marathon!!!!

  5. In the midst of all that you could be feeling the fact that you understand the deeper meaning behind why you do what you do makes me love (and respect) you even more...

  6. Sheryl, I love this post so much. Your attitude is truly an inspiration. Hugs to you! And my best wishes go out to everyone in NY and across the east coast who are dealing with so much.

  7. Thank you for being a bright shining light in the blog/running/NYC/WW/andwhateverelse world :-) Your acceptance of what is is inspiring! Here's to the next NYC Marathon!

  8. Love this post, and your attitude. You've been on my mind during the back and forth.

  9. You're incredible. Point. Blank. Period. I love you girl. <3 Can't wait to read about your dream coming true - I'll be here waiting this time next year! xoxo

  10. I think I took some of the same photos on my ride to Javits on Thursday

    also, you are in great shape now. Use it..

  11. Firstly - you look SO BLOODY CUTE! I hope you can save up that sassy outfit for when you do run the marathon. Secondly - like others above, my heart broke a little for you when I saw the title for your blog. I thought about all the work and anticipation that you've put into the preparation and imagined my feelings in your place. Thirdly - you have shown what an amazing strength of character and heart you have in your response to the news that its been cancelled. I know I wouldn't be able to override my own selfish reaction if it was me in your shoes. You are a stand-out character. And kudos to you for it.

  12. Great photos and you look amazing! I love your attitude and approach to the whole thing. It's times like this that humanity never ceases to amaze me about how good we are to the core :)

    Super inspirational and I do hope that you get to run in the NYC Marathon next year like you dream to because I have no doubt you can do it!

  13. You're awesome! (But of course you know this already!)
    Blessings to you and thanks for the update and the post....
    Lots of love!! <3

  14. You have such a positive attitude! It's refreshing to read your thoughts and to see how peaceful you are with the whole thing.

  15. Allison (NC)November 03, 2012

    You are a ROCK STAR!

  16. i have no clue what to say, i'm feelin it all, sorrow anger empathy, most of all i'm just gald y'all are ok, especially since my neice lives there now she's attending nyu law school (VERY proud uncle!) i'm glad you're good with this and i hope they do reschedule but alas it doesnt really matter the journey shall always continue! (goodness knows your path is interesting!)

  17. Just catching up on blog reading... thanks for the shout-out!

    Love this post! Especially the last paragraph about your dream to do the NYC marathon! Even though it's postponed, don't give up on your dream! Dreams are what keep us young and alive, so dream on!!

  18. You have such a good's always a joy reading your blog.

  19. I stumbled onto your blog via a link somewhere and I have to say, you are one classy lady! Kudos to you for keeping perspective in all of this.

  20. You are such a real New Yorker! I love that you are okay with it and it will only make next year that much more special :) {{{HUGS}}}

  21. You said everything so perfectly; I credit this post with helping to calm me down and realize NYC is really the race I want to be my first marathon also! See you in 2013!

  22. If your dream is the New York marathon, you go for it! Never go for second best. Good luck for next year.

  23. Cheryl, Thank you for your honesty and your pictorial reporting of the aftermath of the storm. Your spirit is truly inspirational. I know you will run a New York Marathon because you believe it will happen. All the best and a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to you and those you love.

  24. Ugh spelled your name wrong! So sorry! *blushing*

    1. Don't worry about it. have a great Thanksgiving!

    2. You look great! Hey wear do you buy your outfits from? I love the I Love Lucy look. But I'm Califonia it's hard to come by?

  25. Hey we're do you buy your clothing I love them? In Cali it's hard to come by.


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