Saturday, November 3, 2012

The New York Marathon has been cancelled!

They say a Marathon is mostly mental but in this case I think it is fair to say that it is 100% in my imagination because, this year, as everyone knows by now, the 2012 New York Marathon has been cancelled. To be honest, after talking to people here, it seems inconceivable that it could have gone ahead, given that some people have been killed by the storm, others have lost their houses and, well, some people still don't have internet or hot water. What is hard to understand, however, is how Michael Bloomberg can go from a resolute "Yay" to a resounding "Nay" in the space of a day.

I got on the plane thinking that things would probably not turn out to be a simple black or white but rather a shade of grey: that neither my flight nor the Marathon would be cancelled, but there would be extra hurdles to overcome. I decided that I would take all these logistical challenges in my stride and treat them as part of the test, rather than wasting precious mental energy on worrying whether the missed hours of sleep or extra miles walked would detract from my finishing time. As it turned out, the flight went very smoothly, landing slightly ahead of time, and just as we were taxi-ing to the terminal, my neighbour (who wasn't running but knew that I was) started fiddling around with his iPhone. It was at this moment that he told me the news. Almost half the plane was occupied by other Marathon runners and many of them were part of a large group travelling with the agency. I couldn't see any ripples of disbelief passing through the plane so I thought it must have been a joke. Of course, it turned out not to be.

For the rest, the journey went very well, all things considered. I always find it amazing how the people who are in charge of the queues in the immigration hall in a country that is so ordered as the US go about it as if it were their first day on the job. Every time that I have come to NY and it has happened that several international flights have arrived at the same time, chaos has ensued. This time I was able to use the chaos to my advantage and get through the lines in record time. Then there was an impressive queue for prepaid taxis, which didn't seem to be moving at all, so I went with some cabbie who was offering a ride into town for $60 provided we found someone else prepared to share the cab and pay the same. Everybody wins.

So, what then of the Marathon? Well, I'll go shortly to the Expo and pick up my "I didn't run the 2012 NY Marathon" t-shirt which may someday be worth a fortune on Ebay (yeah, right). I guess they'll tell me what the refund policy is if there is one. I expect that I'll get guaranteed entry into next year's Marathon but it will be interesting to see how much of my $350 I get back, or whether next year's entry fee is waived. Anything is possible.

As far as what to do with all the training I have in my legs, I signed up last night for the Valencia Marathon in just over two weeks time. I ran this last year and found it to be a superbly run event and good value at only 70 euros for a last minute entry (the inscriptions close tomorrow). The good news is that a friend of mine is flying in from Serbia to run his first Marathon there, so it will be nice to accompany him, as well as a couple of other friends who ran the Seville Marathon with me back in February.

In a rather spectacular fuck up earlier this week, the NYRR organization posted this rather inappropriate message on their Facebook wall, just as people were battening down the hatches and assessing the damage from the storm:

Er, durr, Central Park is, you know, like closed?

It was one of those automatic posts that they had forgotten to or indeed been unable to cancel but I managed to take a screen shot of it before it disappeared. As usual with these kind of emotive subjects, there were a lot of very polarized views ranging from people saying that we didn't understand New Yorkers and that they would rise up just as they had done in the face of terrorism and the Marathon would go ahead; others were saying that it would be a disgrace to divert important resources in a time of need to something so frivolous as a foot race. I posted the following and immediately got more "likes" than any post I have ever written on Facebook (more than the 3 which are shown below, I might add!)

Unfortunately, Staten island is still a complete mess by all accounts
Much as it seems like a nice idea, the reality is that even if it were not for the storm, it would not be possible to cross some of the bridges on foot. In Spain I could probably get away with running along the hard shoulder but I'd probably get arrested or shot if I tried that here. And if I am not going to be able to run exactly the course, it doesn't really seem worth the hassle it would involve. Nevertheless, tomorrow I have arranged to meet up with some friends to run the last 10 miles of the Marathon. I will probably run this there and back so that will be a nice 32 km long run.

The challenge, though, is how to convert this premature taper into a final preparation for Valencia. First of all, I don't want to waste too much of the time I have in New York training, although I do love running in this city. It will be easy to train too hard and arrive on tired legs to Valencia. On the other hand, I can't extend the taper for another two weeks without negative consequences... Hmmm, this is just the sort of time when it would have been useful to have an experienced trainer around. I suppose I'll have to make something up.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you had a good run today Rob. Cheers to you and your drive. Maybe you can take a bit of time and pick up some records for a new mix? We all are waiting for a Heavy Usker set.