Instead I spent it very differently than I expected. I was gathering supplies - toiletries, first aid items and cleaning supplies - to give to my friend Jordana. This was a weird turn of events, but it felt right to be helping her.
Jordana, if you read enough of my blog and have a great reading retention, is my "friend who ran the NYC Marathon". She was the first runner I ever knew (in my life) and the first person I ever knew who ran a marathon. A feat that was beyond my comprehension just 4 years ago.
I remember once during the summer of 2008, being out on my bike and crossing paths with Jordana when she was out for a training run. I asked her how many miles she was doing that day. "Ten", she replied. Ten miles?! TEN?! I marveled at the idea of that. How does anyone run ten miles I wondered...
On Marathon Sunday that year, I remember watching the elite women on TV as they ran through south Brooklyn while I prepared my sign for my friend. I knew I'd be on McGuinness Blvd waiting for her. Since that's close to the half way point, I wrote something like "You're almost half way there!" and "Greenpoint loves Jordana!", or something to that effect.
I left the apartment to catch the elite women fly through north Brooklyn. I had never seen anyone run so fast in my life. It was unbelievable! Inhuman. Incredible. Inspiring.
Paula Radcliffe leads the elite women through Greenpoint...
After seeing those world class athletes run past, even though I knew Jordana wouldn't be through for a while, I stayed out there. I watched thousands of other runners come through. Ordinary people of all colors, races, ages, shapes and abilities. It seemed like the stream of runners would never end. It was powerful, moving and beautiful.
Eventually our friend Jordana came by and we screamed and cheered like crazy.
And a moment later, she was gone.
She was on her way to tackle the Pulaski Bridge and the second half of the marathon. And I couldn't have been more proud.
Later that evening, a bunch of us met her at a bar in Williamsburg. I marveled at her medal and tried to get an understanding of what it was like. I'm pretty sure she said she would never do it again (which I still find hilarious for some reason)
I remember that night, after celebrating with my friend, leaving the bar, which is just over a mile from my apartment. I was in a dress and walking home. But it occurred to me to run -- something I would have never considered. I ran a little bit. I would run 100 steps (I like to count things) and then walk for a while because I felt like I was going to die from that short sprint. Then when I caught my breath I ran another 100 steps. I did that the whole way home, inspired by my friend's remarkable accomplishment.
It wasn't until nearly a year later, August 2009, that I got on a treadmill and ran for 10 minutes over the course of 35 minutes. That was the longest I had ever run in my life. And if it hadn't been for Jordana, I might not have done that.
Cut to tonight, I was giving her supplies to deliver to Staten Island, her hometown, which was incredibly ravaged by the storm. She's not only from there but she works there - she's a social worker at a high school and her kids need help. She sent out an email yesterday asking for what they needed. It was the least I could do and I was happy to do it.
I brought her as much as I could. She remembered I was running this year and apologized that the marathon was canceled. I thanked her for that, and told her I understood why and wished her the best. As I was leaving, I turned and added "You know, if it wasn't for you -- I was going to say 'I don't think I'd be running tomorrow', but I'm not running tomorrow. My point is you were the one that first inspired me to run the NYC Marathon. Thank you." And with that, because you know that kind of stuff makes me crazy emotional, I turned and left.
That brings me to where I am now. In a bar. Drinking beer and writing this post. Instead of being at home getting ready for my first marathon like I expected to be doing tonight.
Thank you Jordana, thank you for making me realize something that previously seemed so huge and impossible was completely possible. You are such a big part of why I'm a runner today and you will of course be in my thoughts when I get to run the NYC Marathon. No matter how long I have to wait for the opportunity.
Side note: I found this amusing - In the post I linked to above, dated August 31, 2009, I wrote:
I am still so impressed by my amazing friend Jordana, who I mentioned ran the NYC marathon last year. While I have no intention of ever doing that, I am motivated by her accomplishment.And yet I find myself sitting in bar, in Greenpoint, writing this post, and though I feel selfish, I'm crying about the fact that I'm not running the NYC Marathon tomorrow. When I walked into the bar tonight, I was wearing a pink marathon shirt, pink marathon running sleeves and pink marathon gloves. The bartender, only noticing the abundance of pink, asked "What are you all dressed up for?" My reply "The New York City Marathon". Funny how much can change in just a few years.
(2008 Marathon photo set is here)