The Year without a New York Marathon – Act Tres (for my Spanish speaking followers)

You last saw this would-be New York Marathoner leaving the Expo after finding out that the Marathon had been canceled.  Fast forward to Saturday morning, as the heroine (Hey it’s my blog post and I can make myself the heroine if I want to.  If you want to be the heroine, write your own damn blog!) tries to come to terms with the marathon being canceled.

As Saturday rolled around, I was in a better place and was coming to terms with the cancellation of the marathon.  I had a few hours of sleep (and a few beverages too) and that helped me gain perspective.

Oh who am I kidding, I wasn’t in a better place.  I was just in a new place. This new place was called Denial.

Let me introduce you to this magical place I call Denial.  Denial let me go on and pretend I didn’t just waste $700 (yes, I said $700) in non-refundable entry fees.  Denial allowed me to forget the $200-$300 worth of marathon merchandise Brian and I just bought – and every last piece of merchandise has the date 11/4/12 scrolled on it.  Denial allowed me to go to the marathon finish line and take pictures and joke around as if nothing was wrong.  Denial kept me from lacing up my running shoes and running the marathon right then.  Well, actually a slight hangover also kept me from running at that very moment, so I can’t give that one completely to Denial.  Denial also allowed me to forget about the fact that I was still a petty bitch and I needed to get my head out of my ass and stop thinking of myself, stop thinking about the marathon! However, Denial did do me a favor.  Denial gave me a new outlook and enough time to come up with an alternative plan.  And for those of you who dozed off during that section of my earlier post and if you are keeping track…. I was now comfortably sailing right to Plan Z.  If I had any more change in plans I’d have to start going to “double letter” plans.  And I was not ready to break out Plan AA.

Plan Z:  I needed to volunteer to help in the relief efforts.

As soon as we realized that in the past 48 hours we moved from Plan N to Plan Z we jumped into action.  I say jumped into action and in reading this you may be envisioning us tearing off our clothes to show our super hero costumes as we leapt the tallest building in a single bound.  In reality we just sent an email.  But it seemed much more urgent and action packed at the time.  We contacted a friend that works for the local Northeast Wisconsin Red Cross Chapter and she hooked us up with the Red Cross in Manhattan.

Okay, this was good.  We had a game plan:  we were going to go and volunteer with the Red Cross.  We were going to help in the relief efforts.  We were going to do good.

Take that Denial!

We soon found our way to the Red Cross facility only to find out that before we could do good, we had to sit through a 2-hour training.  We had to come back in a few hours and then attend the class and then we’d be able to help.  This was not ideal.  We felt we were wasting time.  We knew people on Staten Island could use our help now, not in a few hours.  But what could we do?  We realized we had no other choice but to wait for the training – apparently we would “do good” later in the day.

At this point, I’m just getting really anxious to help.  I knew that helping the relief efforts and volunteering is what we needed to do.  It was what I needed to do.  This wasn’t me visiting Denial… this was me knowing what I needed to do to make this right.  And that was helping those affected by Superstorm Sandy.  This was no longer about me and the marathon. It was bigger than that.  This was a chance to be part of something important, something bigger than the marathon.

We came back at 3:30 as we had been instructed and we started completing the pile of paperwork (side note:  completing this paperwork and listing our “skills” that would help the Red Cross decide which areas we were best suited to help is a FRICKEN HILARIOUS story and is its own blog post.  I’ll do an entry on that topic at some point on my other blog “Read with Coffee”. Stay tuned.) only to find out that they didn’t have their class times correct and now we had to wait until 5pm for the class to start and it wouldn’t be expected to be done until 7pm.  WTF?  Seriously?  7PM?!?!?  How the hell were we supposed to do good on that day when we weren’t even going to be down with the orientation class until 7pm?  Oh well, I guess we wouldn’t actually be helping out on that day.  Holy Crap… we just slid head first into Plan AA:  helping out on Sunday (which we wanted to do anyway but we thought Sunday would be our 2nd day of helping, not our first.) How the hell did that happen?  We were supposed to help on Saturday!  We all saw on the news how badly people needed help and yet we wasted an entire day and couldn’t even volunteer?!?  Really?  Son-of-bitch!

But we sat through the orientation like good little volunteer wanna-bes because we knew it’s what we had to do to help.  We had no other choice.  As our orientation was coming to an end our names were called to go and collect our badges and lanyards that showed we had completed the orientation and that’s when I had a sinking feeling that Plan AA was in jeopardy.  I realized that we may have just pissed away an entire day and the chances were good that we may STILL not be able to help even after being registered.  (Another side note: some of our names were called and some names weren’t called because some people did not get badges.  The people who did not get a badge had to get a well-being check by the Red Cross before they were able to get their badges.  I’m not naming any names but there were only 3 of us in my group and not all of us got our badges!!  I got my badge and my husband got his badge…. so a certain someone else, who shall remain nameless does not have a badge, but you didn’t hear that from me.  Oh wait, I guess you did hear it from me.  Oh well.  It’s too damn funny not to share!! HA HA HA HA!!)  What I realized when I looked at my badge and its expiration date was that it qualified us for “long-term” volunteer duties that would apply for the next month.  Which would have been fine and dandy if we didn’t live out-of-state and if there wasn’t a huge natural disaster that required immediate, not intermediate/long-term, volunteer needs.

I was sick to my stomach.  I could NOT believe we wasted an entire day.  I was sure once we were done with orientation that they were going to send us out to Staten Island with work gloves and shovels.  Surely if I explain to them that we are from out-of-town that they will find something for us to do immediately.  Didn’t they know how badly I needed to help?

No such luck.  Wow, I was floored.  At this point, I knew that the Red Cross was not my ticket to changing my karma and helping those in need.  And yes, as Saturday wore on, I realized that another reason I needed to help the relief effort is because I seriously needed a karma overhaul.  I needed new ju ju because I was pretty sure the cosmic world hated me.  If volunteering didn’t help clear up my karma, then nothing will.  But at this point, volunteering didn’t look possible.

I asked the Red Cross for other avenues that I should try to get my immediate volunteer fix.  They gave me a handful of other organizations to turn to such as The United Way and New York Service.  But as I tried contacting these organizations I ran into the same roadblocks.  They didn’t have any immediate needs but if I wanted to help, I could check back later, visit their volunteer page (which consisted of long-term options only) or donate money.  This was not what I had in mind.  And this was not helping my mind.  I could not deal with the thought of not helping out.  I knew I needed to help and I needed to help on Sunday – otherwise known as Marathon Sunday.

Let me state again how desperate I was to find a way to help.  I can’t even convey how frantic I was getting.  It was to the point where I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t think of anything other than finding a way to help, I didn’t want to plan any other vacation activities because I didn’t want to do anything but help and just couldn’t contemplate how I could make this all “okay” if I didn’t volunteer.  I was an addict jones’n for a fix.


I repeat.


I scoured the Internet, followed Facebook links, read a ton of tweets and, made phone calls.  Everything was a dead-end.

Sunday morning rolled around and we still didn’t have a clue what we were going to do but the three of us decided we were going to find a way to help.  I’m guessing both Brian and Jolene knew at this point that if they didn’t want me to physically scratch my skin off and sit in a corner while rocking back and forth, they needed to help me find a way to volunteer.  AND it had to be on Marathon Sunday.  So after doing a bit more digging online we found that fellow marathoners were creating their own volunteer movement and were rallying the troops to help Staten Island.  While we missed the boat (literally) and weren’t able to volunteer with the original group that posted the information, we were able to use their rallying cry to get us to Staten Island.  The marathoners that were going to help on Staten Island were supposed to wear their orange race shirts we had all received from the marathon and head to Staten Island to help.

So we put on our orange shirts and we made our way to the Staten Island Ferry.

But then reality set in:

Marathon shirt – nope.  VOLUNTEER SHIRT – YES!!

  • Where do we go once we got off of the Ferry?
  • We aren’t from the area and we didn’t know Staten Island and didn’t even know what part of Staten Island was hit the hardest?
  • What can the three of us possibly do on our own?
  • Can we just show up and help?
  • Is that how it works?
  • We have no tools, supplies or anything useful for that matter, we’re going to look like idiots?
  • Do we need to register (or sit through a class? – thanks for nothing Red Cross)?
  • Do we need to agree to work for a certain amount of hours?
  • Can we just walk in to a ravaged area?
  • Will that be allowed?
  • Will the residents want strangers in their neighborhoods or will they feel it’s a violation of their privacy?
  • Will we, as marathoners, be welcomed or will we be resented?
  • We have no idea what we’re doing, how could we possibly think this was a good idea?

But I really needed to help out and I needed to help out that day and I needed to help Staten Island.  You see Staten Island is where the marathon was supposed to start.  And we were supposed to run over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which I could now see in the background. I glanced down at my watch and I realized that if the marathon had gone on as planned that I would be approaching the half-way mark.  That reinforced it, I knew there was no way I’d be able to run the marathon in 2013 if I don’t make this right in my mind.  I needed to help Staten Island!!

Yet, we have NO IDEA what we are doing or where we are going.

But what we saw on the Staten Island Ferry gave me hope.  We were no longer alone……


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