What Happens for ING NYC Marathon 2013? Dreams were Crushed in 2012.

Hurricane Sandy resulted in deaths, and caused many people to lose everything. It was the worst storm the New York area has ever seen and the damage total as we speak ranks second only to Katrina. When the storm blasted our coast we spent the day after repairing our homes, and in many cases living without electricity, heat, and hot water. People came together in communities to help one another, and some like my friends Sal and Ali traveled to the places hardest hit to help people living on the water who had lost everything. The main concern was taking care of ourselves, and helping others get through one of the worst disasters in New York history. It was surprising when New York Road Runner’s Club didn’t cancel the Marathon immediately after the storm. There’s something to be said for “staying positive” and “forging ahead” in times of adversity, but anyone who has experienced the marathon knows the level of resources required to make it happen. It’s kind of foolish to think it wouldn’t have taken away from the recovery and added to the chaos the storm had already caused. NYRR should have cancelled the race earlier as a courtesy to all involved, but in the end at least they did the right thing and finally cancelled it. Public opinion favored cancelling the marathon, even among the majority of runners.

The storm passed and left a wake of destruction. The recovery is in full swing and luckily people are still volunteering to help. My family and I bought food and supplies and donated them to Island Harvest, a local organization helping people on Long Island. The recovery will undoubtedly continue, and as time passes I find myself like many runners, starting to think about the NYC Marathon that never came to be. 

People paid a premium to participate in the best marathon in the world, but one that some say is gaining a reputation for becoming “too big for its britches”. People devoted countless hours of their lives, sacrificing time away from their families and in some cases burning the candle at both ends to prepare themselves for the ultimate runner’s dream: running the NYC Marathon. Some people ran for a cause, and in addition to the physical training, they raised thousands of dollars for various charities to benefit mankind. In the end, a belligerent hurricane Sandy descended upon our great city and dreams of running the NYC Marathon were crushed. 

So what happens from here? 

Will the NYRR carry over the entries and honor them in 2013? At a $200+ registration fee they better. A small administrative fee for 2013 is understandable but runners will find it unacceptable if they have to forfeit their entry fee and pay it all over again. They will revolt if they are not guaranteed entry for 2013 and NYRR will get taken to the cleaners by the media. The only exception to this is if the 2012 entry fee goes to a verifiable recovery charity for hurricane Sandy victims. No one will likely have a problem with that.

Will the various charities carry over the funds raised to 2013? It would only be fair. Runners are compassionate people, hence the reason they aligned themselves with charities to begin with. Runners who raised donations for a charity will probably continue to add to their fundraising totals in 2013, but if charities require runners to meet new fundraising goals, they will find it unacceptable. People worked very hard and spent countless hours asking their families and sphere of influence for donations, and they looked forward to celebrating on race day. Those dreams were crushed in 2012. 

So NYRR and all the charities that benefited from the runners who did fundraising; if you’re reading this, RECOGNIZE. Some spent hundreds of dollars on plane tickets and hotels only to find out at the last minute while picking up their numbers at the marathon expo, that the race was cancelled. You took too long. You should have cancelled a lot sooner with the scope of what has happening, but in the end at least you did the right thing. Will you do the right thing in 2013 by your runners and fundraisers? We’ll be waiting to hear.

Team Heartosaurus was prepared to run the 2012 ING NYC Marathon. Our team was made up of patients and their surgeons, and people who lost parents or siblings to heart disease. We were running for a cause, in honor and memory of many, and increasing awareness of heart and vascular disease. While training in the dark before and after work, giving up our sacred Sundays for a long run, and working and caring for our families; we also managed to raise almost $40,000 for the American Heart Association. Please give a shout out to my team below:

Salvatore Merlino:  A close friend of ours who has been a part of every notable event in our lives. He ran to support my mission, but this year it was personal as he lost a family member to heart disease. To give you an idea of what type of person he is; in the aftermath of the hurricane him and his wife Ali went immediately to the Rockaways to get knee deep in sand and water, helping families who lost their homes. Like many of us they had no electricity or hot water, but their first instinct was to reach out and help others. 

Sal’s story:
As some of you know, I started running on a whim back in 2008 & have since finished three marathons and about 2 dozen smaller road races.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and is a great way to stay healthy.  This year, I’m running the NYC Marathon with my friends Ben & Nicole Carey.  They started Team Heartosaurus after Ben’s open heart surgery in 2009 in an effort to raise awareness about heart disease. 

For this year’s marathon, our team is raising money for the American Heart Association – an organization whose mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.   This organization also has a more significant meaning to me this year after the sudden passing of my wife’s uncle, Jimmy Catapano.  He unfortunately suffered a heart attack this summer while playing golf with no previous warning signs to signal a cause for concern.  Hopefully by raising awareness, fewer families will have to experience the unexpected passing of a loved one due to heart failure.

Dr. Allan Stewart:  My heart surgeon from New York-Presbyterian Columbia, and now a dear friend. He’s an amazing individual. I write about him in depth in my book. 

Dr. Stewart’s story:
As a heart surgeon, my life's work is hitting the reset button on heart disease. I believe exercise is the path to longevity and happiness.

Kevin Morgan:  AKA, Fit Old Dog. He’s an Ironman Triathlete, Scientist, and Author. More than that; he has become a good friend. Compassionate, humorous, and wise. Because of our own personal experiences we share the same ambition to increase awareness about heart disease and encourage people to be a “driver” in life, not a “passenger”.

Kevin’s story:
I have joined the Team Heartosaurus for the American Heart Association to help raise awareness of he dangers of aortic aneurysms, encourage screening, and help people to get on with their lives after surgery, all based on my own experience.

In August, 2010 I self-diagnosed an abdominal aortic aneurysm only 10 days after finishing the Lake Placid Ironman for the fourth time with my best time ever. Events during the race led me to this diagnosis, which was confirmed by ultrasound at 7 cm diameter, and then by MRI. It was ready to pop! Four days later I was undergoing aortic surgery for stent placement. I went from Ironman to aortic surgery patient in about 2 weeks. This was a shock for me, but also a positive life-changing event. In spite of my veterinary and extensive research training, I was unaware of the frequency of abdominal aortic aneurysms in men of my age (I was 67 at the time). I have since started a blog to encourage older people to work out in order to stay healthy, with special reference to body awareness. Such awareness saved my life. I am keen to encourage people to consider their aortic health and have appropriate screening procedures before it is too late.

In 2011 I became the first person in the world, as far as I am aware, to complete an Ironman race with and abdominal aortic stent graft. During the last two years, in spite of Ironman training, my aneurysm has shrunk from 7 cm to 3.8 cm diameter, and I am now living an essentially normal life due to my diagnosis. I was a lucky one. My story and extensive advice on safe exercise for better health are present in my blog at http://athletewithstent.com.

I was introduced to Benjamin Carey (Heartosaurus) as a result of my reading and reviewing his excellent and inspirational book, 'Barefoot in November.' Benjamin invited me to join his team, and I was delighted to do so. I have no qualms about completing the NYC Marathon, having qualified and run the Boston Marathon in 2009.

I am excited about the prospect of raising funds for this important endeavor.

Amy Evans:  I met Amy on Twitter. She had read my book and reached out to me. She is a runner with a great personality and asked if she could join Team Heartosaurus and help raise donations for the American Heart Association.

Amy’s story:
I am a student, avid reader, and active community volunteer.  I am the real deal “coal-miner’s daughter” from WV who moved around a lot working in the banking business.  My mother and I spent a lot of time when I was a child helping out the less fortunate in our area by visiting and spending time with people.  She instilled within me the importance of helping others around you. 

I am a runner for just over a year and being the enthusiastic reader that I am when I find a new interest, I came across an inspiring book, Barefoot in November, written by a man who had ran the NYC marathon exactly one year after having open heart surgery.  That man was Benjamin Carey.  I instantly struck a connection with the author and his need to help inspire others to do the same as he had done.  My grandmother died from congestive heart failure and my grandfather suffered from multiple heart attacks.  My father, too, suffered from several heart attacks in his early forties.  He has since made some lifestyle changes that have given him an excellent bill of heart health this year. 

I, myself, had my own brush with death 2 years ago which had led me on a path to a healthier happier lifestyle.  Having that experience made life so much more precious in every moment that I have here.  I started running for my life, literally.  I have since moved back to my home state that ranks #1 in heart disease in the country with a 10.40% share of the population having heart disease.  Here I am actively involved in the community by promoting the importance of nutrition, physical activity & literacy.  I also am working on my BSA in Biology/Pre-Medical studies.  It was through my volunteer work at The Bowery Mission in NYC that I realized the need for a career change more suited to my passions of helping others.

Dr. Nicholas Morrissey:  Dr. Nic is another amazing doctor from New York-Presbyterian Columbia. He is a true Heartosaurus in that he goes above and beyond in connecting with his patients and inspiring them to live life to its fullest. After hearing of our bid for the marathon, he reached out to me to ask if he and a patient could join up and help us raise donations for the American Heart Association.

Dr. Nic’s story:
I am sharing a narrative from my patient who will be running the NYC Marathon this year. She inspired me to ramp up my training and get on track to run this year while raising $$ for cardiovascular disease. Perhaps there is no better way to demonstrate the impact of living a healthy life than seeing all these incredible people run marathons after such health challenges

On December 30, 2004, I decided to make some healthy changes and I quit smoking.  Four months later, I started running.

After years of running with calf pain, I found out that my left external iliac was blocked.  In July, 2011, I had bypass surgery of my left external iliac.  I was told the iliac could not be opened by angioplasty or a stent.  Surgery was my only option.  I had over 6 weeks of recovery and had to postpone running the 2011 NYC Marathon.

In January 2012 the same pain started again in my thigh.  Again, months went by before it was confirmed my bypass was blocked.  I had an unsuccessful attempt to open the bypass in June.  I was totally frustrated.

After talking to a few doctors, one recommended me to Dr. Nicholas Morrissey, vascular surgeon at NY Presbyterian/Columbia.  Dr. Morrissey knew I shouldn’t have to live like this and was positive he would open the original blockage.  He also wanted blood work to see why I clotted so easily and quickly.  We learned that I have atherosclerosis, just like my dad did, and a mutant gene that can contribute to vascular disease .  On August 10th, Dr. Morrissey successfully opened my iliac artery with angioplasty and a stent.  My recovery was in days not weeks.  I was back to feeling good and running slowly 2 weeks later.

I am very grateful to Dr. Morrissey and his team.  My plans to run the NYC Marathon on November 4, 2012 did not have to change except now I will be running with my surgeon.

Mark Hnatov:  Mark, a heart patient, contacted me through the Heartosaurus.com website and asked to join Team Heartosaurus and help raise donations for the American Heart Association. He has a great story of perseverance, and like me he has a strong, supportive wife behind him. It was a pleasure meeting them both at the AHA kickoff party.

Mark’s story:
On October 5th 2011 I had open heart surgery to replace a defective valve and repair an aortic aneurysm. I was diagnosed in 2008 only after insisting on a stress test. I had been competing in ultra-distance bike races, including the Race Across America, completely unaware that I had a congenital heart defect.  I could have been one of those people you read about who appear to be in perfect health and then they're gone. I was very lucky. I am grateful to be alive and to be able to run and train for the NYC Marathon. 

I am raising money for the American Heart Association to educate people on the need for screening, the importance of patient involvement with their doctor and improving diagnostic capabilities.

Jenny Jensen:  Originally when I organized Team Heartosaurus to raise money for the John Ritter Foundation, Jenny Jensen was one of the charter team members. She is an absolute sweetheart and has a very touching story about her dad succumbing to heart disease.

Jenny’s story:
I have been a runner all of my life and my Dad was always my number one fan. Last year, as I prepared for my first marathon, I knew this race wouldn't be any exception and as I crossed the finish line, my Dad had tears in his eyes. I will never forget how proud he was of me that day.

Just a few short weeks later, my Dad suffered an aortic dissection and passed away suddenly. My Dad was healthy and full of life and there really were no warning signs. It’s been very difficult this past year as I have had to come to terms with his sudden death and the realization that my biggest fan will no longer be at the finish line when I race. 

I really believe in the work the American Heart Association does to spread knowledge of aortic disease so that there is more early detection and less families will have to go through losing a loved one so suddenly.

I am honored to be part of the Heartosaurus NYC Marathon team so that I continue honoring my Dad and raising awareness and money for this very important cause.

Cheryl McNally:  I was contacted by Cheryl through the Heartosaurus.com website. She was very eager to join Team Heartosaurus and help raise donations for the American Heart Association. We met at the AHA kickoff party and she has been a dedicated addition to the team.

Cheryl’s story:
Hi, please join me in my mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The heart touches our souls emotionally and fuels our body physically. It is the one organ that controls our very being, to have a strong heart is to live.

My parents & heroes Jack & Mary Hiralall passed away from weak hearts physically, but in my world had the strongest emotional heart filled with love.

I started running a few years ago to change my life, physically, emotionally and internally. I want to be able to breathe to exist, live to love & become the hero to my children.

On November 4, 2012, I will be running the ING NYC Marathon. Love is only one heartbeat away, help me keep it strong and support my run.
Thank you - Crazy Runner Girl McNally

Samantha Freeman:  I met Sam through a friend and when she heard about Team Heartosaurus she immediately wanted to get involved and help us raise money for the American Heart Association. 

Samantha’s story:
Dear friends and family -
It's me again...running and fundraising for a great cause - The American Heart Association. Before you say, didn't you hit me up a few years ago? Please read on about why I am so passionate about this cause in particular...and race. (And for the record it's been at least four years since my last "cause")

On a more serious note, as most of you know, my father and hero, Brian Freeman died suddenly of a massive heart attack when I was only 16 years old. Leaving this world and me way too soon and too young, he was never able to fulfill one of his own life goals - to run the NYC Marathon! 

Of course, if you know me, you know I had to take it upon myself to complete his unfulfilled goal. So, in 2009 I completed my first NYC marathon in honor of my Dad. 

This year, I have the pleasure of running again, only this time with the added support of a terrific group of people - TEAM HEARTOSAURUS - in support of a cause near and dear to "my heart." 

So as I once again dare to attempt a Marathon, I hope you will consider donating towards my team and this great cause we are running in support of. Even $5 will go a long way...but in case you are looking to dig a little deeper, don't forget all donations are Tax Deductible:) 

Thank you all in advance. I'll take any and all the support I can get, even in the form of running buddies. 


Jean Martin:  Jean is a patient of Dr. Nicholas Morrissey. The two of them joined Team Heartosaurus to help raise donations for the American Heart Association and support the cause. 

Jean’s story: 
Hi!  My name is Jean Martin.  I am a vascular patient of Dr. Nicholas Morrissey at NY Presbyterian/Columbia.  

Eight years ago, on December 30, 2004, I decided to make some healthy changes which included quitting smoking.  After several attempts to quit, I was truly ready to give up this bad 30+ year old habit.

In April, 2005 I began running.  By 2007, I was always having pain in the left calf while running.  I just thought I was a poor runner.  I was able to have a super running year in 2010 through October.  In November 2010, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon which I suffered a lot of calf pain the last 1/3 of the race. 

In February 2011, while running the NYRR Al Gordon Classic, a 4 mile race in Prospect Park, not only did I have the usual calf pain, but my thigh was in pain.  I had to walk more than half the race.

It took months to find out that I had a blockage in the left external iliac artery.  I was told that the artery could not be opened with angioplasty and a stent.  So, in July, 2011, I had a bypass surgery of the left external iliac artery.  I felt great after my 6 week recovery.  Unfortunately, I had to defer my registration for the 2011 NYC Marathon.  

I was back to running and happy.  But again, 5 months later, in January, 2012 I felt the same pain in the thigh.  After several visits to my doctor and the surgeon, I was told that I was fine.  My walking up stairs or quickly walking and exercise soon became very difficult.  I was eventually unable to run.

In early June, 2012, I saw a vascular surgeon that attempted to open the bypass during an angiogram and inserted a stent.  After an overnight stay and lying flat on my back for many hours, the procedure was unsuccessful.  The next step was surgery again.  I did not want nearly 2 months recovery again!  I was devastated!

I quickly called my podiatrist who knew what was going on. Earlier he told me that he knew a doctor at NY Presbyterian/Columbia and he strongly suggested I get a second opinion and see Dr. Nicholas Morrissey, vascular surgeon.   I met Dr. Morrissey on June 25th.  Dr. Morrissey told me that he would not do anything with the bypass.  Rather he would do an angiogram to do angioplasty and a possible stent.  And Dr. Morrissey said that he WOULD open the iliac artery.  Dr. Morrissey needed me to have blood work as well which showed that I have a mutant gene that causes more clotting and it is confirmed that I have atherosclerosis just like my dad.  Being armed with the right information, Dr. Morrissey did open it with an angioplasty and a stent was inserted on August 10, 2012.  It was a success! 

My recovery was only a few days.  I was climbing the stairs the day I came home from the hospital without any problems.  I was walking some short mileage by the end of the week.  By week two I started to slowly jog.

I have been able to continue my running and train for the NYC Marathon on November 4, 2012 as planned because of Dr. Morrissey.  This was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.

And now, as a part of Team Heartosaurus, I will run the 2012 NYC Marathon with my brother, Dr. Nick and all the great members of this team while bringing awareness to others about heart and vascular disease.  

I am running this marathon in memory of my dad and his courageous fight against atherosclerosis and all the many complications because of this disease.

Pauline Watson:  I met Pauline through the website Athletewithstent.com. She is also a heart patient and someone passionate about staying active in recovery and promoting awareness. She joined Team Heartosaurus early and even though she gained entry to the marathon individually, she still helped raised donations for the American Heart Association. In her life she has also accomplished some very impressive running times in various races.

Meghan Fleming:  Upon hearing about Team Heartosaurus at a party, Meghan approached me and asked to get involved. She said the cause was personal to her and even though she gained entry to the marathon individually, she wanted to be part of Team Heartosaurus and help raise donations for American Heart Association. It’s a good feeling to see people like Meghan go out of their way to support the cause. 

Thank you to all these wonderful and passionate people for their relentless efforts to raise donations for the American Heart Association and for spreading awareness about heart and vascular disease.

I hope that Team Heartosaurus will be given the chance to run together in 2013 and complete this journey.

You can still make a donation here to support the cause.

We’re always looking for new members to participate in various events (athletic and non-athletic) around the country. More info. here.

We'd love to hear your comments below!


FitOldDog said...

Hi Benjamin, at least our houses weren't crushed - oops, wait a minute, I think maybe yours was. Sorry about that. We spent a lot of money in NYC during the visit and didn't get in the way, so we did that at least. Thanks for writing this. Cheers, Kevin (aka FitOldDog - no spaces or you'll get lots of canine traffic - woof! woof!)

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