An alumna, a marathon and Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy hit the region, Jessica Lent, AB'06, channeled the energy she reserved for the NYC Marathon to assist her city and fellow New Yorkers.

Training for my first marathon this year, I had admittedly put my priorities first many weekends, especially when it came to long training runs. However, after Hurricane Sandy landed in New York City, leaving thousands of people without electricity, water, and, in the worst cases, places to live, I put my energy toward helping others. The whole experience has been a good opportunity to remember that there are many things to be thankful for.

After living in New York City for 2.5 years, I had spontaneously entered the 2012 ING New York City Marathon lottery in December 2011. I found out in April that I had been one of the lucky few to get into the race -- let alone as my first time in the lottery. In June, I officially began my training with 3-4 runs each week, which included a longer run each weekend. I put my body and mind through this new challenge and ultimately ran over 300 miles as I prepared for the 26.6 miles.

But there are some things you can't plan for.

As Sandy approached New York, I had a sinking feeling that something bad was going to happen. I thought it might be our losing electricity or water for many days, but my husband (Tim Michaels, AB '06) and I were spared these losses. We saw videos and pictures on TV and online of much, much worse. It was crazy to think that New Yorkers were losing their homes, possessions, and lives just a few miles away from us.

Along with discussions around the devastation throughout the city, discussions about the marathon happened almost immediately. People were enraged, confused, happy, and conflicted about the decision for the marathon to continue. Personally, I felt a mix of feelings that amounted to not feeling positively about running yet feeling like I had worked so hard to get to this moment.

Thus, it was a relief to me and to many others when the race was finally cancelled. While people now expressed a new mix of anger, confusion, happiness, and conflict over the cancellation, the only thing I could think to do was volunteer.

In the few weeks since Hurricane Sandy, I have been to Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Far Rockaways working at distribution centers. I have met some passionate and giving volunteers -- some of which had also trained for the marathon -- as well as some incredibly strong New Yorkers still trying to recover from the storm. Three weeks later, some of these neighborhoods still look ravaged, but most people I speak with are hopeful and optimistic -- even if they are not sure how things will ever return back to normal.

I'm still volunteering throughout NYC and running [much shorter distances!] in the Central Park. While I am still disappointed that I did not run the marathon this year, I am thankful and fortunate to have the opportunity to train and run next year.