Any other Monday, I’d be writing about my 10-miler last weekend ahead of the Philadelphia Half-Marathon Nov. 18. The 10-miler was great—my joints felt about as good as one would expect considering that this was my first run longer than 15K since 2010, and except for the last two miles, I had a hard time keeping my pace slower than 9:30-minute miles (I wanted to take it slow, to avoid an ego-bruising bonk).
But I have to tell you that my heart’s not in it, but is instead still in Highlands, my sweet, devastated hometown, which is prepping for another storm even as it tries to rebuild from the last one. Ever since Sandy hit, I’ve been glued to the constant stream of bad news from former classmates—kids I went to Girl Scouts with, and kids I ran cross-country with, who are now looking for warm beds for their own kids after finding their houses destroyed, their belongings lost. My heart is so heavy for all these old friends! Pile that devastation on top of the personal tragedies we’ve sustained over the past couple years, and this storm has made me feel like there’s too much tragedy in the universe for one person, one family, one town, one world, to bear.
I know the remedy, of course. It’s to look forward, and to find the bright spots after the storm. This sentiment is a cliche for a reason—it’s true. Even though my heart is heavy for all that’s been lost, it swells with pride for all the amazing work my friends who live in the area are doing to rebuild.
It’s in their spirit that I’m looking forward today. At the end of my 10-miler last weekend, I switched from my running mix (composed of equal parts gangster rap and 1990s jock jams) to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” which I’d uploaded to my iPod earlier that day. I ran my final strides to “My City of Ruins,” and as I heard the chorus: “Rise up! C’mon,rise up!” I realized that if my friends and former classmates who lost so much can rise up, I can certainly do the same.
It’s also in their spirit that I look forward to the Long Branch Half Marathon on May 5, 2013, held the day after what would’ve been my dad’s 78th birthday in my home county. I haven’t registered yet, as I’m waiting for confirmation from race officials that the race will still go on. But it’s nice to think about that as one of many bright spots ahead.