On my 30th birthday I decided to run the New York marathon because I was leaving a decade in which I planned to accomplish more than I had.
The unwritten novel and exes I didn’t marry felt cliché but still like failures. The big 3-0 sounded like the microphone dying mid-note: a thud, followed by a disappointingly human sound that can’t fill the space. Here I was, still in the middle, somewhere between the person I knew I didn’t want to be and the person I did want to be but was still defining, and all I saw ahead was more middle. There was one item on my 23-year-old self’s whimsical list of “Goals By 30” that I could still squeeze in, though. Never mind that my runs had only ever exceeded two miles a handful of times, and that I’d had knee problems on occasion over the years.
I was going to run the damn thing.
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was my training ground. As the miles added up to hours, I abandoned music for podcasts, and my running days began to take shape around the stories of others’ lives. When David Rakoff read, weeks before his death at 43, an excerpt from his final, unpublished manuscript, I retreated under the shade of an elm to cry quietly. When a black home health aide described noticing a white hooded gown hanging on the door of her dying client, I realized I’ve slowed down to gasp. (She stayed by his side until the end.) When a reporter, interviewing an evangelist politician, asked the state legislator if Jesus would have voted for the bill the legislator had introduced and he answered, after a long pause, “Probably not,” I yelled “Holy shit!” at a kid on a bike.
I logged nearly 600 miles running through the park’s many trees and teenagers skipping school, sullen nannies and summer camps full of kids, the lanky, grey-haired man with thick bottlecap glasses who floated around the perimeter of the park every day in a trance. At 14 miles, my old sports bra rubbed blisters in a semicircle around my neck. I dotted it with Neosporin and felt proud. At 16 miles my knees buckled. I hobbled home, learned about ice baths from Google, and took my first one. After my 21-miler, the longest run I tackled before the race, I took another. Ice baths are boring. Once the sharp chill and shivers pass, the bulk is just a numb quietness. I sat in the silence, studied my pink, goose-pimpled thighs beneath the water, and thought about the things we’re capable of.
Then Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and the marathon was canceled.
Read more. [Image: Julio Cortez/AP]
Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey. Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (by diameter), the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, affecting 24 states, and was responsible for more than $65 billion in damage and hundreds of deaths from Jamaica to New England. Photographers have been returning to the damaged areas on this anniversary, capturing images of the rebuilding, where it has taken place, and the ruins, where no progress has been made, including some neighborhoods that may be allowed to return to nature. Starting with photo #12, the last 13 images are interactive, click on them to see a transition from “before” to “after”. (See also: Part I, from last week)
If Hurricane Sandy, which struck a year ago today, was technically “good” for the country, we need a better way to measure national progress.
Two and a half months after Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, the U.S. Congress appears to be close to approving a relief package of tens of billions of dollars. Government workers, contractors, and volunteers on the ground are still in the midst of an extensive cleanup phase and welcome the much-needed funds as they rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructure. While some of the estimated 230,000 cars damaged by Sandy’s saltwater surge will soon be going up for auction, many are simply headed for the crusher. Gathered below are images of the ongoing cleanup efforts and those still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
See more. [Images: AP, Getty, Reuters]
Inspired by a Tumblr called “The Daily Pothole,” this earnest documentary spotlights a service that few knew existed and that many take for granted. As Richard Cicale, Director of Manhattan Street Maintenance says, his thick Brooklyn accent more audible with each word, the crew is “a vital, important part of the city – to some people anyway.”
While Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc across the northeast U.S., kitesurfers in Aruba took advantage of the storm’s waves and high winds to shoot this intense video. There are many smart reasons to avoid paddling out during a storm (especially the risk of putting rescue workers in danger), so hopefully this crew played it safer farther away from Sandy’s path. The video was created by Matthew Blew and Oliver Berlic.
[Video: Silas Maniatis, GIF: @faketv]
Divides between the rich and the poor are nothing new in New York, but the storm brought them vividly to the surface. There were residents like me who could invest all of their time and energy into protecting their families. And there were New Yorkers who could not.
Those with a car could flee. Those with wealth could move into a hotel. Those with steady jobs could decline to come into work. But the city’s cooks, doormen, maintenance men, taxi drivers and maids left their loved ones at home.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]