The Morning After

I have lived in New York City for almost six years.

In that time, I have never felt unsafe or scared.

I never felt unsafe walking home to my first apartment on East 102nd Street, naively listening to my headphones at 3 AM as I came home from the bar.

I never felt scared running along the East River at 6 AM in the winter, when the sun was far from up and the running path was practically empty.

I never felt at risk running around the unlit Bridle Path, and I never felt afraid when my old office building in the Financial District reeked of gas and had to be evacuated.

In the years that I have called NYC home, I have always felt like this city had my back.

So yesterday, when my city came under attack by a reckless hurricane, I was — for the first time in six years — scared.

For the first time in six years, I felt unsafe.

Brian and I are very, very lucky. We live in a high rise building on the Upper East Side and seem to be in one of very few areas that never lost power and didn’t suffer any damage.

We even got to chat with my best friend for a little while.

But as the wind gusts picked up throughout the day and the sky got dark in the later hours, I felt helpless and out of control (something I don’t do well with). There was nothing we could do to ensure safety for ourselves and our friends other than staying inside and waiting it out.

The wind was so loud against the windows that we could barely hear the news — which, despite nothing changing for a long time, we couldn’t seem to turn off — and our building was swaying to the point that I felt nauseous.

But we were — and are — fine.

Our city, however, is not fine.

So much of the city is under water. Peoples’ homes are massively damaged and very few people seem to have power. There is an incredible amount of devastation on our tiny island of Manhattan.

Sandy gave us a beatdown.

I never anticipated calling myself a New Yorker. My good friend Lauren, who I met in college, is a New Yorker. She was born in Manhattan, grew up here for most of her early childhood and then moved just outside the city to Westchester county. She can proudly — and confidently — call herself a New Yorker.

Some people say you have to live in NYC for 10 years before you call yourself a New Yorker. Others say you’re not a New Yorker unless you were born here.

I was OK with that for a long time. I don’t want to step on any New Yorkers’ toes. Those people are scary and territorial.

But when I woke up this morning, afraid to get up because I didn’t want to see the how badly the city had been hit, I felt it.

I’m a New Yorker now.

To me, you are perfect.

I was born in Pennsylvania, I was raised in New Hampshire and I went to college in Connecticut. I’ve only lived here for six years and I still get lost in the West Village sometimes.

I’m a New Yorker though.

And New Yorkers are damn tough. You’ll see. I mean, there were nurses carrying NICU babies down flights of stairs last night, during the hurricane, as they manually controlled their breathing and evacuated them from the NYU hospital. That is downright heroic.

This storm took a major toll on Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. Our island may be small, but it is mighty, and the people here will be working tirelessly to get NYC back up and running.

Then there’s the marathon.

All of the city’s bridges and tunnels are still closed.

People are trolling the New York Road Runners Facebook page today, demanding to know what’s happening with the marathon this weekend.

And I get it. I trained for this race, too (um, kind of), and I want to run it.

I also know how badly this city just got hit. Many neighborhoods are on life support and there’s a lot of cleanup and repair work to be done. Homes have been lost and lives have been lost.

So I don’t know what will happen with the marathon. It’s on my mind, but it’s certainly not my main concern right now, and I don’t think it deserves to be the city’s main concern right now.

I do know that if the marathon does happen, it’ll be because people worked their asses off to make it happen for us.

I also know that if the New York City Marathon goes on as scheduled, it’ll be one hell of a celebratory 5-borough block party.

But let’s just wait and see, OK? I’ll be patient if you’ll be patient. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, stay inside and keep tapering.

New York, I love you. You’re going to be just fine.

(And thank you to everyone who keeps checking in. We have electricity and enough Halloween candy to last us a very long time. If any NYC friends need anything, we’re just 28 flights up and are happy to have you. Be careful out there.)



52 Responses

  1. First — so very glad that you guys are safe. It was scary for me here in Boston but not NEARLY as scary as it must have been in NYC. I feel for everyone who is struggling right now, seriously such an awful thing. I also am thinking about those NYMM runners who SO want to run on Sunday. I honestly hope the race happens…it’s just the fitting thing to do given how strong of a city NYC has proven to be over the years, you know? Hang in there!!

  2. glad to hear you’re safe! it’s been devastating to watch the news the past 48 hours, but you’re right, New Yorkers are tough and you’ll all power through. sending tons of good thoughts your way!

  3. Glad you’re OK! We lost power and water (and the ability to flush….) here but it just came back on. No trains into the city for 7-10 days so if the marathon does go on I’m curious to see how people manage to get there. I am terrified of running on the East River when it’s dark and I’m alone, same for Bridle Path. But I am scared of EVERYTHING. Neurotic and slightly nuts. It’s so heartbreaking to see what the hurricane did to others nearby. You are definitely a New Yorker, it’s clearly where you identify.

  4. scary and territorial? we’re not… okay, maybe a little. yeah. sometimes. but tough? that we all are, regardless of how long you’ve been here or what. you CHOSE to be a part of this madness (you crazy transplants, you), so that makes you scary and territorial too 😉

    PS kind of kicking myself for not taking you up on your offer earlier. oops. sandy kicked our asses. dizamn.

  5. Thanks for expressing what I feel. I’ve only been in NY for 3+ years, but I felt like my home, my city was under siege yesterday. My area was fortunately spared from the worst of it but my heart breaks for everyone who’s been affected. The NYCM is of course a concern for anyone who’s put in so much hard work into training but if they’ve seen any of the footage of the destruction Sandy has wreaked here, then it should not be the priority. Thanks again for the well-written post.

  6. Good lord, what a night. I’ve lived in NYC for 24 years and this was the scariest thing I’ve experienced here, aside from Sept 11th. I spent the storm at my parents’ place in soho so I wouldn’t have to be alone uptown, which was awesome until the power went out, shortly followed by cell phone service and hot water. Looking out the window and seeing total blackness in Manhattan was pretty surreal. I just took a cab back to civilization (aka above 39th street) and I want to hug my refrigerator and never let go! Glad you stayed safe, and let’s hope for the best for Sunday.

  7. I’m in Brooklyn Heights and feel so fortunate that other than a few lights flickering, we really didn’t feel any of the effects of Sandy (other than sheer terror that the windows were going to shatter from the wind). However, I grew up in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and I’m so sad about what’s happened there. I make fun of New Jersey sometimes, and I definitely make fun of/loathe the whole “Jersey Shore” thing, but it’s a beautiful place and it’s so much a part of my childhood and a part of who I am today. The boardwalk in Belmar, where this past July I ran my first race in over 11 years? It’s pretty much gone. It’s just sad. I’m just happy my family’s okay and ny parents’ house didn’t sustain any damage.
    I really didn’t mean to be such a downer. Stay safe everyone.

  8. Well said! it was scary enough in DC so I can’t imagine how much worse it was in NYC. Glad you are both safe and sound; thinking of those who are not as fortunate,

  9. So happy to hear you are ok! I have a friend in Brooklyn, and last I heard they were hunkering down and going to ride it out. That was last night though 🙁 I’ll be praying for a speedy and safe recovery from Sandy!

  10. So glad to hear you’re okay!! This post is beautiful and you nailed it spot on. You are definitely a New Yorker! I lived there for only six months this past summer (just moved back in September for school) and I still felt so hurt watching it be destroyed yesterday.

  11. Be Safe Ali! I always think that the scariest part of disasters like this is the NOT KNOWING! But, I am glad you guys are okay, sending my thoughts out to ALL New Yorkers!

  12. Hi Ali-
    Fellow NH and marathoner resident here, in Hampton. I spent all night worrying about if you and Brian were ok. I have many NYC friends and am happy that all my TRUE NYer’s are fine. Be safe and keep up your good attitude. Races come and go, friends/family and security do not. Thinking of you…

  13. I live on the UES too and I am so, so thankful that the area is okay. I took a walk around the neighborhood and it looks like we were only hit with a bad rainstorm. The footage of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, L.I., and New Jersey is shocking and saddening.

  14. Glad you are okay.

    I am definitely not a New Yorker but the five times I’ve been lucky enough to visit in the last five years I have fallen in love. The city is an incredible place — and is full of strong, heroic individuals.

    I am holding you all in my heart and thoughts. New York is an amazing city, marathon or no marathon this year.

  15. Very well said!

    At the moment my flights are still on for Thursday, and if the race goes on, I want to be there and help celebrate the city and people who made it through this…does that make sense?

  16. I’m happy you’re safe! Hopefully, the marathon will happen. More importantly, I hope the city will rebuild itself quickly and better than before.

  17. So happy you’re okay!! We have major dust storms (Haboobs) out here, but they’re nothing like a hurricane. I hope you and all the runners get to celebrate properly on Sunday!!

  18. Totally agree!! There will be another marathon, it’s just a marathon and I’m a runner so I will always be running, no biggie! Glad you are safe!

  19. +100 to this post, Ali. So much devastation from this storm, the marathon has been the last thing on my mind. It’s so heartbreaking to hear all of the awful stories and see the aftermath. Stuff like this makes me feel so protective of New York and New Yorkers, and I can’t stop thinking about those affected most by the storm.

  20. As a born and raised New Yorker who has called Chicago home for just the past 2 months, it is beyond surreal to not be in my city, where all my friends and family are, at a time like this. You absolutely deserve to call yourself a New Yorker – it is times like these that we New Yorkers show the world that we are not selfish and rude, but rather selfless and the strongest community you could want behind you in devastating times. Glad to hear you’re okay – I’ll be spending the day trying to get in touch with my friends who weren’t as lucky.

  21. Glad to hear you are ok. I think you are totally right about the marathon. It does suck for those who trained and all the people who come from all over the world. The NYC marathon is on THE marathon that a lot of people hope to run one day. BUT whoever is worring about the marathon right now instead of all the people affected by the hurricane is heard less and does not deserve to run the marathon anyways.

  22. So glad you are okay but oh it’s so sad. Some amazing stories of heroism will come out today. New Yorkers are tough…and brave.

  23. Glad you guys are okay! And I agree with you that the only concern for the city right now is to clean up and get it back in order safely. Obviously, no one is going to know what will happen wit h the race on Sunday and that should be the least of people’s worries. I do get that people travel from all over for this race – but you gotta roll with what you get which isn’t going to be much for a little bit. Prayers for all those affected by this nasty biatch of a storm.

  24. Glad you weathered the storm OK! Grew up outside of New Orleans so I know how it is! Nothing makes you realize your love for a city – the place and its people – like worrying for its safety. NYC is so resilient, y’all will be back to normal in no time I am sure.

  25. AMEN. I wish I had something profound to add besides commenting on what a well-written post this is….and how much I agree. As someone who is planning to run on Sunday, I get the anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen with the marathon But have an ounce of compassion (and patience!).

    Glad you are okay! Please let me know if you need me to bring anything this weekend!

  26. I’m glad you guys are safe. I was thinking about the marathon this morning (I’m not running it but I am a runner) and I think you said it perfectly – it shouldn’t be the city’s main concern right now. Hoping for the best for all of NYC!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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