Ten Hours Post Sandy

Since I started obsessively logging my workout activities on Running Ahead, I have fantasized about crossing the line into serious jock-hood – spending ten hours or more exercising in a week.  I have come close a number of times, but never got there until Hurricane Sandy. This past week I climbed for two hours.  Ran thirty miles in roughly five hours, rode my bike thirty six miles in three hours and did other body weight work for another fifteen minutes.  Totaled up, that’s just over ten hours of exercise.  Its funny what you can do when you have to get to work and the trains aren’t running.


A crummy photo of a gas line on the marathon course.

Two hours of that time and thirteen of those miles came on Saturday when I ran part of the marathon course going down Bedford avenue through the Hasidic part of Williamsburg.  There are three gas stations on that section of Bedford.  Only one had gas, and the line for it stretched for ten blocks.  Police officers were patrolling the line, and pumping the gas.  It was an orderly but surreal scene.  I wrote repeatedly on this blog about how I wanted the marathon to go forward, but seeing those lines this weekend, I cannot imagine how it would have been possible.

I was expecting to be more excited about this little jock milestone, but the destruction we’re seeing everywhere along the east coast, the gas lines I ran past  on Saturday, the nasty  fight over the marathon, and the stories I heard while volunteering at a donation depot yesterday have left me unexcited about my stupid workout records.

No gas at the corner of Bedford and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

The time running and biking helped me deal with the insanity of this week, but they were a luxury I was afforded because I was lucky enough to live in a neighborhood on high ground.  Perhaps the next ten hour week will feel more triumphant, but for now I plan on running again tonight and donating to New York Cares.  I hope you’re doing the same.

Commuter Ethics in a Disaster Zone

I’ve lived in New York through September 11th the black out of 2003, the transit strike of 2005, and now Hurricane Sandy.  In the days after those events, I’ve ridden my bike many times through a downtown Manhattan without power.  One thing has always been true – people behave better.

New York can be an aggressive place. Cars will cut you off when you’re trying to cross the sidewalk, cyclists routinely barrel through red lights and jaywalkers will casually walk across four lanes of traffic.  The roads of New York can be chaotic and perilous.  But this morning, when the street lights of lower Manhattan were out, the subways were closed, and there were thousands of inexperienced cyclists skateboarder, roller-bladers and razor scooter riders on the streets things went remarkably smoothly.  Even at the many intersections where there were no police, cars gingerly inched forward and cyclists waited patiently for their turn.

It was as if with the rules governing our behavior removed, we decided to act more ethically.  Perhaps because of some altruistic feeling brought on by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, or perhaps because of some internalization of the categorical imperative – i.e. if I behave reasonably that asshole is more likely to behave reasonably and I won’t end up getting killed on 8th avenue.  I am cynical enough to think it is most likely the later.  But either way, it made what could have been a very dangerous ride to work a little less terrify.

Immanuel Kant, whose complex and nuanced theory of the categorical imperative I have entirely mangled in this blog post.

Now let’s see what this evening brings when we all repeat the experiment in play nice road sharing in the dark.