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This holiday season is unlike any other for mother runner Jen Correa, husband Pedro and their two young children Pedro, 7, and Alyssa, 3. This Staten Island, NY family lost their home to Hurricane Sandy, though with help from family and friends they slowly are getting back on their feet. Jen, 37, who had trained to run this year’s NYC Marathon, found her way back to running thanks to fellow bloggers and friends who sent her running clothes and shoes (true friends indeed!). Says Jen of the sport that’s carried her through her 20s, getting married, having babies, being injured…and now through the devastation of losing so much: “Running is actually when I feel the most relaxed. It is my time.”
Best recent run: I really haven’t had a “best” recent run, since I have only run three times since Sandy. My most emotional run: my first run after the Hurricane. It had been about a month since I’d last put on my Kayanos and about five weeks since my 20-miler and I was tapering and mentally preparing to run 26.2 miles. I was mentally and physically exhausted from trying to get through each day. So much had changed in such a short period of time. Then, finally, the day came where I felt like I needed to run. I ran from my new apartment with no plan or goal, just to run. I instinctually ran toward the boardwalk, my usual route, which is when I realized that everything was different. The boardwalk was closed because it was full of sand and garbage. The parking lot where I would often park to meet friends for a run was being used to pile debris. There were police cars and mobile units parked on the street and construction vehicles everywhere. I ended up having to run on the sidewalk, which I never do, but it was the only safe place. I ran past homes that were still boarded up and some that were completely demolished. The worst were the ones that had burnt down. I worried that I shouldn’t even be breathing in all the dust. I ran for 45 minutes and I nearly cried the whole time. I do not know how far I ran because my Garmin was among the long list of lost items. As I walked up to the steps back to the apartment, I stopped to stretch for a minute and thought about this new world…I was sad. I walked in and the kids came, hugged me, and started with the “I wants” and “I needs.” Then I started again going through the motions of my life. I am still hoping it will feel real soon.
Bittersweet Holidays: To be honest, I am still waiting for the Christmas spirit to hit me. Nonetheless, this season, I am extremely grateful to have my family and friends. I almost lost my husband in the storm. Having him and my children is all the gift that I need this year. It’s also been such a blessing to have the unlimited support and love of so many people. This tragedy has taken so much from me, but the outpouring of support has renewed my faith in humanity. I am lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.
NYC Marathon…Someday: In the first few days after the storm, when the severity of the situation started to set in, I thought about the marathon constantly but I never said anything out loud. It was less than a week away. I had trained for four months. I had bought and worn in my sneakers perfectly and had my marathon outfit nearly ready to go. All that was now gone. I thought about borrowing clothes and sneakers. I wondered if I still had the energy or the strength to run 26.2 miles. And then with all the backlash, I opted against it just hours before the announcement was made. I was relieved, but disappointed. Friends of mine ran other marathons instead. I just went on living in a fog. I lost so much on October 29 and the NYC Marathon goes on the list of things I hope to get back in time.
Favorite place to run: South Beach Boardwalk, Staten Island, NY. I miss it so much.
Looking Forward: I do hope that I eventually get that NYC Marathon medal. I would also love to run Chicago and Philly. My real running dream is that someday I can run with my children. Whether it is a 5K or 26.2 miles, I hope that they can one day share my love of running.