Tag Archives: Cause

Come Hell or High Water

What a week this has been.  This time last week, the winds of Sandy were just starting to really pick up, causing a branch the size of a tree to fall right next to the chapel.  I was lamenting the fact that I had missed my pre-marathon massage–something that had been on my training plan for months.  I had no idea how trivial and selfish my lament would seem just a few hours later, as I watched the Hudson River creep up past the West Side Highway, past 11th and 10th Avenues, nearing the gates of the seminary.  Oh.  Right.  This is big.  The lights went out in Chelsea (and all of Lower Manhattan) around 9pm.  They didn’t come back on for 4 days.  Some are still waiting in the dark.

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Meanwhile, Jay was working “wall-to-wall” as they say in the newsroom.  Because his work needed him to be accessible at all times, they reserved a block of rooms at a hotel across the street from the station.  We never knew what to expect from one day to the next, but I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude again and again for a warm bed, a hot shower, a charged phone, a meal shared with a friend, and an occasional siting of my sweet husband.  Not to mention our community back at the seminary caring for our dog–she is a warm snuggler when you’re living without heat!

Tuesday afternoon, we were waiting for a decision about the NYC Marathon.  Being all too aware of the devastation around us, Jay didn’t see how it could go on–but he seemed to think it would anyway.  Sure enough, the mayor announced that the marathon was a GO.  Alrighty then.  We’ll stick to the plan.

As days went on, it became abundantly clear that the marathon was pissing a good deal of people off.  I was unhealthily glued to facebook, taking every negative comment to heart.  I knew we were doing something good–heck, we raised over $6,000 to fight colon cancer!  But how was I supposed to feel good about starting a race with my back to the war zone of Staten Island?  And why were people taking out their anger on the runners?  Why weren’t they upset with the mayor for making a bad call?  People who think this sport is a narcissistic one should come to one of my speed workouts.  If anything, my experience of training for this marathon (and shorter races before it) has been a) humbling, and b) camaraderie building.  Narcissism is judging others for doing something you know nothing about.

Friday morning, John and Katie (the husband and youngest daughter of my friend Aimee who died of colon cancer in March) arrived to their hotel–ready to catch some shows and cheer me on.  Friday afternoon, my mom arrived with encouraging words, knowing I’d had nightmares about people protesting the race.  Friday night, NYRR announced the marathon was cancelled.  As much as I have have looked forward to running the legendary NYC Marathon, I breathed a sigh of relief when I received Jay’s text saying, “it’s cancelled.”  He knew I was on my way to church and would not be watching the announcement on TV.  He was steps away from Mary Wittenburg as she told the world that this race was meant to bring people together, not to divide them–and given the divisive nature of the controversy the marathon posed, it could not go on.

While I was in church with my mom for an All Saints service, remembering departed saints in our own lives as well as all who had lost their lives in Sandy’s wreckage, my husband and friends were already thinking of ways to support me, coming up with Plan B.  Jay emailed his contact at the Philly Marathon to see if he could switch his elite entry over to me–he was told no.  Our friends Tanya and Josh (the same two who ran in men’s underwear with me back in June to raise awareness for colon cancer) had found a marathon in PA set to take place on Nov. 4–same day NYC had been scheduled.  Jay immediately registered me for the race, worried it would fill up before I got out of church (it did).  He, Josh and Tanya were ready to drive me to PA and take turns running with me through the whole race.  I was touched when I met Jay for dinner and he told me the news.  But my heart had already decided on another race: Charlotte’s Thunder Road.

I’ve got to say, I never would have thought to sign up for Thunder Road as my “one” marathon to run.  (It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll only run one).  I’ve run the TR half-marathon, and loved it!  And I love Charlotte!  But I only started this journey after getting into NYC via the lottery.  Pure chance.  It’s like the decision wasn’t even mine.  Once it was made, I was stoked because of the cause that fueled me and the opportunity to run in the world’s largest (?) marathon.  2 million spectators are no small potatoes!  But now that my registration for TR is in the mail, and my plane ticket to CLT is purchased, I can honestly say I am as excited if not MORE excited to be running in Charlotte Nov. 17.

Our goal going into this race was to finish, have fun, and honor Aimee.  My training has been such that I’m a little faster than we anticipated, and it was fun to go into the NYC Marathon with a possibility of running 3:50 or faster.  My teammates thought I should be shooting for 3:45 or 3:40.  And maybe if everything on race day had been picture-perfect, I could have.  It won’t be the case in Charlotte.  I’m ready for the hills (thank God for all those Harlem hill workouts!!) but tapering, picking up my mileage, and then tapering again just isn’t ideal.  Jay’s concerned I’ll be more prone to injury.  So running TR brings my original goals back into focus–finish, have fun, honor Aimee.  We toasted Aimee Friday night after making the decision, shedding a few tears.

And that’s it!  I can’t imagine a more perfect place to finish this race than in Aimee’s town, surrounded by people who miss her as much as I do.  To run on the very streets she and I used to drive together–it was Aimee who first drove me around Charlotte, picking me up from the hotel when I interviewed at Christ Church.

There is a good chance Jay won’t be there since he is scheduled to work that weekend (and every weekend).  But Jay’s closest friends will be there, and I know I’ll feel him with me every step of the way.  Julie, Brian and Mom won’t be there, but their presence this weekend cheered Jay and I up (Pepper too) after a long and difficult week.

And as for NYC (and many other areas hit so hard), send us your prayers and your donations.  It’s a long road to recovery.  If Sunday is any indication, the running community will be a significant presence in restoration.  Thousands of runners went to Staten Island, Breezy Point, Rockaway, and Lower Manhattan to lend a hand.  Thousands of runners met in Central Park to donate goods and “Run Anyway” for the various causes they’d been supporting all along.  And thousands of non-running New Yorkers also met in Central Park to support those running–cheering for people, handing out water and Gatorade.

Despite the marathon being cancelled, or because of the marathon being cancelled, or because it just needed to happen, people are coming together.  “I sing a song of the saints of God… God help me to be one too.”

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a couple of big wins

a while back one of my kiddos decided to run a half marathon to raise money for parkison’s research. her dad was diagnosed with parkison’s when she was 4, making it hard for him to walk or talk. i told her i’d run with her if i could find 13 donors to support her cause, pounding the pavement for parkinson’s. donors did: jocelyn, jay, patty, lois, grace, wendy, christine, chris, pat, anne, another anne, tim, linda, to name a few.

it was a hard race. sara had been battling a cold, and she hit a wall at mile 10, but she kept on pushing, along with two high school friends reid and hannah. together we talked and laughed and coughed our way through the race, maybe shedding a few tears here and there. sara had a lot of fans on the road, cheering her on.

it was enough that she finished a difficult race, it was enough that she had raised awareness of the disease claiming her dad’s mobility, it was enough that she had raised a good bit of money for research. but when the race was over, the checks kept coming, and at a reception held in sara’s honor last thursday, we learned she had raised over $67,000. absolutely amazing.

saturday saw a couple of wins too. jota ran, and WON, a half marathon. and my girls’ relay team placed 3rd. trophies all around!

but sara’s win is the kind that changes lives. YES.

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f-f-f-frigid

last night 23 high school kids made shelters from cardboard boxes on the front lawn of our church. our first official lock OUT. the idea was to sleep outside in boxes in an effort to bring attention to homelessness in our community the night before the annual homeless awareness walk. the idea came about last spring or summer, though, in much warmer weather.

i don’t think anyone expected the 16 degree chill.

parents called the church saying their child couldn’t come (that’s fine). our numbers dropped a little.

but 23 brave souls still showed up.

and so did 4 news trucks.

awareness accomplished.

a few events in the evening that helped drive the point home:

1. mark, a homeless neighbor, came to the church to share his story and answer the kids questions. he gave us pointers on how to set up our boxes. he told us the key is to keep your hands, feet and head warm. he said he had no idea we were actually going to sleep outside ALL night, and he was so touched by what we were doing. gayle, a homeless lady i ran into at the coffee shop said the same thing, as did the mother of a homeless family sleeping IN our church last night. their appreciation made it a little easier to bare the cold with my kids.

2. one of our youth has been interviewing homeless people for two years, working on her gold award project for girl scouts. we watched a documentary she had put together. it was cool for the kids to hear from one of their peers how they can make a difference.

when all was said and done, 1 kid went home early, 13 kids went into the sanctuary (all curled up around the altar… pretty cute), and 9 kids braved the cold all night… along with 3 adults.

and then we walked 5k.

and then i went to class, fell asleep during the lecture, and got sent home 🙂

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one laptop per child


i’ve been able to talk (i love skype) to a few of you about the desperate need for access to information here. really, if i could name one thing that holds people back in benin (or any developing nation, for that matter) it would be the limited accessibility to internet. yes, you can get on the internet. i wouldn’t be blogging otherwise. there are internet cafes, etc. but they cost money to use, and if you have the choice of buying an hour of internet or buying a meal, obviously food wins! and even if you did have money to spare on internet, because computers are so sparse, people don’t really know how to use them. at least not efficiently. i helped one of my students to a search for education opportunities the other night (universities, scholarships, etc) and it took me 5 minutes to do what could have taken him 2 hours, simply because i’ve grown up in a digital world.

if i only had 6 months to be here, and $6,000 to work with… i would secure office space, get a table and 7 laptops, a projector and internet access… then i would teach my students how to get all the information that’s essentially free back home. i think it’s truly the most effective way to teach people to help themselves. it’s the quickest way to level the playing field. i mean, my kids are smart! and creative! they just lack information.

well, this program has a similar idea. they’re doing what they can to get technology in the hands of kids that need it the most. like i said in my last post, knowledge truly is power. this is essentially giving knowledge.

through december 31, you can buy one of these innovative laptops for yourself (ingeniously designed to be used in developing nations) and give one simultaneously. for $399, one computer will be sent to a child in need, and one sent to you.

if you’re really fired up, and think you could raise the $30,000 needed to do so… you could buy 100 computers at $299 to be sent to the specific location of your choice… like… jeunesse pour christ benin!

check it out.

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