The Endurance Marathon

Grand Central Station  (This was taken moments after getting off the shuttle)

November 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM EST

The cancellation of the New York Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy had become a test of endurance for us.

The week leading up to the Marathon, we watched closely the damages and heartaches that were caused by Sandy.

There was mixed emotions.  On one hand, I couldn’t understand why they would want to have the race.  Then on the other hand, I couldn’t understand why they would want to cancel it.

When Bloomberg announced that they were going to go forward with it, I appreciated the determination of New York’s resilience.  However, we heard from individuals who thought this was a wrong decision.  Again, my mixed emotions crept up.  What was right or wrong?  Should we go or not?

At first, we thought the decision was going to be made for us.  Every day all flights into La Guardia had been canceled.  These cancellations continued up to the day prior to our departure.  It was at that moment, when they announced La Guardia was in full operation, I hauled out my suitcase and started packing.  I’m an easy packer.  Depending upon my destination and time of year, I will determine what gets to visit my suitcase.  This time it will be a couple pairs of blue jeans, sturdy shoes and three different black tops in various degrees of thickness and sleeve lengths.

The day of our departure, Saskatoon was met with a snowstorm.  The plane that should have taken us out of the city at 6:00 a.m. never made it into the city the night before.   We were advised that unscheduled airplanes were on their way from Calgary to Saskatoon that should resolve the issue.   Our expected times of departure went from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.   As each delay was broadcast over the PA system our connection in Toronto to New York became more fragile.

I knew the pickup time by “Supershuttle” will need to be moved.  The “Supershuttle” representative advised me that all the shuttle services were canceled.  We will have to make other arrangements to get ourselves into Manhattan.  He also indicated that the only transportation running were the cabs and even they were in short supply so be prepared for a lengthy wait.  He was talking hours and not minutes.  At this point, we were prepared to call the whole thing off.  But a challenge is a challenge and if we had to do it, we would.

We were 35,000 feet up in the air over the Great Lakes when we found out the Marathon has been canceled.  Another decision had to be made.  Do we turn around in Toronto and head back home?

The US Customs is located at the Toronto Airport and not La Guardia.  Once we retrieve our luggage from the Canadian conveyor belt we could check with Westjet to see about a return ticket.  After some deliberations with all sorts of pros and cons, we thought that since we had gotten this far, we might as well continue.  So we plopped our luggage on the American Conveyor belt and headed off to Customs.

It was the US Customs agent who drilled more fear into us.  There is a gas shortage in New York.  Good luck in getting a cab!  We were about to board an airplane to New York not knowing if we will get into Manhattan.  We had no choice.  Our luggage was already on the plane. The last resort was grabbing the M60 bus to the Astoria Blvd station and take the yellow line.  However, we weren’t even sure if the buses or subways were running.

We landed in La Guardia with so  much apprehension.  The airport was eerily quiet.  The dozen or so passengers that disembarked with us were the only ones in the baggage claim area.  As we waited for our luggage, I decided to do some investigative work.  I found one shuttle service that would take us to Grand Central.  It would be a 20 minute wait and it only costs $13.00 per person.  The weight on my shoulder vanished.  When we got to Grand Central (see picture), we were able to catch the free subway to our hotel.

In general, the experience was a bit nerve wracking.  Not knowing has always been an issue for me.  It all came together at the end.  However, it was the shuttle service operators and the hotel reception that made it all worthwhile.  These people were all smiles and comforting.  We felt like their number one concern was making sure our entrance to New York was free from stress.

I thank them for this.

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