Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Only Race Worth Running

Earlier this week, Hurricane Sandy made its way up the Eastern seaboard, leaving a lasting impact on the New Jersey shore, New York City, Long Island and various other areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the country.  For some people, this impact has been a bothersome inconvenience.  But for others, the impact was life-changing and in some cases, life-ending.

Millions of people lost power.  Thousands lost their homes.  Dozens lost their lives.  Everyone in the Tri-State Area was affected in some way.  I am not an exception.

Since last year, I have been watching, admiring and taking part in my wife’s training to run the New York City Marathon this year.  She began training for it in late spring 2011, first doing 5K runs, then advancing to longer organized races, mostly in New York’s Central Park.  At times she traveled to other states to run, competing in the Fab Four 5K race in Roselle, NJ and her all-time favorite race (on opposite day) in Danbury, CT.

For her, it wasn’t about the time it took to finish.  It was about finishing every time.  And she did finish every race she ran, including three half-marathons, with her most recent 13.1-mile run coming last month in Long Island.

I was so proud of her when she finished her 20-mile run.  At that moment, I knew she was ready for the marathon this Sunday.  But after watching the destruction caused by Sandy earlier this week, I know that as much as she readied herself to run this race, the city is not ready to have it run.

Thousands of people trained for as long, if not longer than my wife did for the 2012 New York City Marathon.  But this is not the time to run a race, especially when firefighters, police officers and good Samaritans are running their own race to save lives, not to mention the people who are working around the clock to restore power to the millions who have been suffering without heat or food.

Eleven years ago, New York experienced another disaster that changed people’s lives forever.  When the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell, the whole city came together to help those in need.  The Mets were front and center in the healing process.

In the days and nights following the tragic events of September 11, then-Mets manager Bobby Valentine and several of his players were constantly at Shea Stadium.  They were using the ballpark and its parking lot in their efforts to provide food, water and supplies to the rescue teams at Ground Zero.  Had Major League Baseball decided to go on with its schedule of games instead of canceling games for a week, this relief effort would not have been possible, as the Mets would have been using Shea Stadium to play games three days after September 11.

Major League Baseball got it right in 2001.  Similarly, the organizers of the marathon and the city of New York got it right in 2012.

As much as canceling the marathon is an inconvenience, disappointment, and in some cases, heartbreak to those who have trained for months for the opportunity to run 26.2 miles through the streets of the greatest city in the world, it’s nothing compared to the inconvenience, disappointment and heartbreak suffered by those people who lost power, property and loved ones.

New York did the right thing by choosing not to hold this year’s race.  The race to get the city and the surrounding areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy back up to speed is far more important.

One final note.  To my wife, who gave so much of her time and dedicated herself to a vigorous training schedule, I know you were looking forward to competing and finishing this year's course.  But just because the marathon will not be held this year doesn't make you any less of a champion in my heart.  Your drive and determination inspire me every day and I'm a far better person because of who you are and what you do.  I will always be proud of you.  I love you.

Photo by Sharon Chapman


Rainiedazze said...

That was so beautiful Ed! I'd bet money she's just as honored and proud of you. I can only imagine how upsetting the last week has been for yall. This ol gal from Oklahoma is wishing her fav NYC couple the best! I <3 NY

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

Thanks so much, Kelly! Of course it's upsetting. But she has me, you and oodles of friends who are still proud of her no matter what! Thanks so much for your support and well-wishes!