I started composing a post soon after learning of the cancelation of the 2012 New York City Marathon, but I was so affected I couldn’t put anything into words.
Having arrived in New York a few days earlier amid the growing controversy over letting the marathon continue as scheduled, I personally felt torn about running the race while recovery efforts continued. It also emerged that Staten Island, where the race normally begins, was hardest hit within NYC.
I went to the convention centre on Friday to the race expo, but the reservations grew, especially as I made a slight detour through Chelsea, where emergency food rations were being distributed in a park. I picked up my bib despite those reservations. At the time, I figured I can run the race, and help out in any way I can afterward.
I returned Friday evening to the hostel where I was staying to use the wifi (no exorbitant data roaming for me) and see the twitter explosion about the race cancellation. “Shocked, but not shocked” formed part of my reaction tweet.
Saturday morning, the hostel organized a cleanup of a local park. We were shuttled by a parks employee to the riverfront park in northwest Harlem. There are signs of storm damage here, such as fallen trees, but our group was just tasked to rake the fallen leaves gathered at the edge of the basketball courts. Not what I expected, but every little bit helps, I supposed.
When we got back to the hostel, I discovered a newly-created Facebook group, New York Runners in Support of Staten Island. The group’s plan was for runners, whether or not they were supposed to run the NYC Marathon, to head to Staten Island to drop off needed supplies for the relief effort. So as not to overwhelm what’s already happening there, various groups would spread out across Staten Island, according to one’s intended running distance.
Sunday morning, I set out for the Staten Island Ferry. Accompanying me was John, who was also staying at the hostel and was also set to run the marathon. I had told him about this initiative, and he was keen to go. On the way, we could see many people clad in orange, as that was the uniform for those participating in this endeavour.
It was great to see thousands of runners, carrying backpacks full of stuff, but others had boxes, and one even had a suitcase. The vibe was positive, and there were great cheers when the organizers starting using a bullhorn to make announcements (see above photo). John and I settled on the group running 10-12 miles total.
Once on Staten Island, the various groups splintered further, and we set off toward our destinations. I’ve never run with a backpack, let alone one that is filled with clothes and food, but this is not a race. Everyone went along at their own paces. For the first 5 miles, I saw what I’ve already seen on Manhattan: downed tree branches, and broken signs.
Soon after I saw curbsides full of garbage and a pump sucking water out of a house. We reached our destination, which was a distribution centre for relief supplies. One of the volunteers who was there requested that we take some items and pass it on to other centres along the way. We gladly dropped some of our stuff, took more, and continued on.
The scene changed very quickly. The severity of the destruction became more acute as we ran toward the ocean shore. John and I, along with two other runners, encountered a pair of brothers who were there to help out their parents, who live on Staten Island. According to them, their parents punched a hole on the roof of their house to avoid the rising waters.
There are many more stories like that from everyone who lives on Staten Island. We helped clear out the garbage and disassembled the shed of the house of Mary Anne, a 70 year old who lived not far from shore. (A photographer from the island newspaper stopped by and took this shot of her and John hugging.) As the flood waters were rising, she tried to call the attention of a passing rescue boat, but it was full. She then scrambled out a window and clung to her house’s gutter until someone finally rescued her. While she was clinging to the gutter, she witnessed a nearby fire to a house, the remnants of which are in the photo below:
Having never witnessed such destruction in person, I was humbled to see it for myself, and to be a part of the recovery. I totally agreed with the runner-volunteer who was quoted at the end of this New York Times article: “We had our marathon today. But it was just more of an emotional one.” I did run about 12 miles out-and-back that day, all told, but that is irrelevant compared to what happened between those 12 miles.
There were some moments of levity, mostly before we ran into the devastated area. While waiting for the ferry, I met members of Team Takbo, an NYC-based run group, some of whose members had been ready to run the marathon. There was some Gangnam Style dancing as the ferry docked on Staten Island. This is John, a French runner-volunteer, me, and two members of Team Takbo; we were at one of the distribution stations at the parking lot for the beach at the end of Midland Avenue:
But just because we runners have gone through, the emergency is not over. There is more to be done on the ground to help storm victims get back on their feet. New York City’s Service page is one resource where you can volunteer or donate.
I don’t really care much about the Charlie Sheen saga, but during my regular perusal of the BBC News site, this article about Sheen suing the makers of Two and a Half Men, is found on the front page with the link “Sacked Sheen sues show’s makers”; I’ve taken the screen-grab here.
If there’s one thing that’s stuck with me from high-school English classes is the use of alliteration, and how a string of words that start with the same letter look and sound interesting.
The BBC News site makes use of alliteration quite well; here’s an example that I’ve noted from 2008. At the time, the headline for the link read “Bronze bull’s bottom blamed for Bombay brokers’ blues.” Even the headline for the article itself, though shortened, is still alliterative. And they can make great tongue twisters too!
(Simpsons fans will automatically recognize a line from “Treehouse of Horror VI” for my quotation in the title.)
It’s the beginning of April. It’s supposed to be spring, right? It snowed in the higher elevations earlier today; elsewhere, it was just a cold rain. I didn’t mind all the snow this past winter, but I do have a tipping point when it comes to enduring cold, rainy weather. And I think the volatile weather of late is part of the reason I’m now fighting a cold.
In theory, I could have gone for a run this week; supposedly, that can help fight the effects of the cold at the same time. But after my hill-training session last week in the same dreary cold rain, even I couldn’t face another round, particularly on a planned steeper course. Mind you, hill training is essential for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, with a killer hill in the middle of the course.
I know that a runner in Vancouver inevitably has to run in the rain, and I’ve accepted that. But I just might have run into training fatigue. Until this week, I’ve followed my three-day-a-week training program pretty well. And with my schedule busy enough as it is, that is an accomplishment. But have I been overtraining? I still have three more long runs before I taper for the BMO Half. When I told that to a fellow Twitterer who is also training for the same race, she told me that she only has one long run left before the taper. Hmm, I don’t know if there is an ideal taper time; it is different for different people, even different for the type of distance about to be run.
I think the priority for me would be to get better, then get back out and pick up the training where I left off. The rest will certainly get me itching to get back to the running!
1. CANUCKS 4 – 2 LEAFS. When the schedule was released and saw the 16:00 start (Pacific time), I thought that was obvious pandering to the Centre of the Universe (TM) to have that game be the first half of the HNIC doubleheader. As I watched, though, I was glad it was televised at that time; a lot more viewers can see the Leafs lose in (Eastern) prime time, yet again.
2. I’m posting this from my parents’ house, as wireless ‘net access died overnight. The Airport Extreme looks like it’s still plugged in, but it doesn’t transmit the signal. I don’t know – it’s one of those strange things that can happen with machinery. I’m taking it to the Genius Bar tomorrow and have them look at it. Hopefully it’s not too messed up, because I don’t think I can afford a replacement right now. I recall reading a few weeks ago that, in these difficult times of almost-recession, people can give up daily lattes, cable TV, or holiday travel to save money, Internet access is one of the last things people will give up. Could that have been possible five years ago? At the turn of the millennium?
Reading about his death was certainly a shock, particularly since it has been a while since I’ve read his works. When Jurassic Park came out in theatres, I went and read the novel first. That was my first exposure to Michael Crichton’s work. There’s always something intriguing in the novels I have read, from race relations in Rising Sun to the politics of sexual harassment in Disclosure. Oh yeah, and dinosaurs run amok. Timeline in particular had that great combination of science and history, as well as the quotation that spurred me on as I finished my undergrad: “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything.”
I do recall the row regarding State of Fear and how it went against convention in the climate-change debate, but I haven’t gotten around to figuring out why. But it just might be Crichton’s unfortunate passing that would get me to revisit his works, particularly the ones I haven’t read yet. Regardless, Michael Crichton was a big influence in my reading, and his genius will be missed.
Canucks win, Leafs lose (albeit in OT), and Americans voted for CHANGE!
What a difference from eight years ago. The 2000 election was great timing for the American Government and Politics course I took that fall, and when it kept going, and going, all the way to the course’s final exam. More than anything, that course, and that election, got me interested in that wacky and weird world of American politics, good and bad. It’s amazing what’s happened in just eight years. At what can be considered a truly low point in the USA’s standing in the world, one man mobilized millions to hope for better, to make a difference, to effect change. Now, Barack Obama is President-elect, but the work is just beginning. I watched his victory speech, and despite myself, yelled “Yes we can!” at the end, in sync with the hundreds of thousands in Chicago.
I did mention this election campaign was miles ahead in the interesting factor, compared to the Canadian version three weeks ago. And Obama made it so. Watching his speech, and many others before that, you could see how he connected with many Americans disenchanted amid financial crises and unpopular wars. He has a certain quality that separates him from past presidents. He is the messenger of the new voice in America, and its citizens have confirmed it tonight.
Of course, once the celebrations die down, the work has just begun. We shall soon see if Obama can bring about the change he has talked about for almost two years.
I’m not really politically active, but there’s something strangely addictive about watching election results as they come in. I couldn’t watch the results of the most recent Canadian general election because I was actually working at the ballot box all day. This time, I’m parking my ass on the couch Tuesday night for the US election, which is infinitely more interesting than the Canadian one. And it’s not just Obama vs McCain: there are elections for the whole House of Representatives, as well as a third of the Senate. The remote control’s batteries will probably be replaced by the end of the night, what with any number of channels to choose from.
I will likely be focusing on the main news channels that I have available: CBC Newsworld, CNN, BBC World, and MSNBC. I might drop in on the main networks from time to time. Also at 19:00 (CTV) is the live Indecision ’08 with Stewart and Colbert. And 19:00 is the start of the Canucks game (at home against Nashville), so another channel to add to the surflist. But the election could very well be over by then, so who knows? This is going to be one heck of a night.