This event is more than a fundraiser, and more than a stunt. No Manhattan is an Island is a thank you, a celebration, and a see-you-later.
I am leaving New York at the end of this year, and I want you to come out and run with me on September 10th. This run is about celebrating and bringing together the diverse running communities New York has to offer, one thing about this city that I will miss most of all. This run is about celebrating healing through physical activity, about realizing how capable we truly are. It does not matter if you run one mile or 32 with me. This is about celebrating what we can do as a community. When we come together, we are not alone.
I have a long history of self-destructive behaviors, and I have had to learn to believe in myself every step of the way. My mid-twenties were spent recovering from years of bulimia and substance abuse, and all of the doubt that accompanied my tendency to punish myself. Now, at 29, I am learning to talk about my past, in the hopes that someone else might feel just a bit safer, and a bit more comfortable sharing their own story.
Just over three years ago, I started running. At the time, it felt like the most impossible thing that I could do. Running felt like a big step in my personal recovery, from learning to stop destroying myself to channeling my energy into working hard to achieve each goal a little bit at a time. When I first started, I couldn’t run more than 15 minutes straight without stopping. Every day I ran, I would add one minute to the previous run. It didn’t matter how far I went, so long as I worked just a little bit longer and kept moving forwards. The joy that came with accomplishing new goals far outweighed the discomfort of pushing myself, and I kept on.
Along the way, I began seeing changes in the way I perceived myself. Not only was I physically stronger, but I found myself more resilient, better able to celebrate my abilities while still focusing on improvement. Obstacles became setbacks, not personal failures. And I began to open up. I found myself connecting with people on the run in a way I never had. I was able to talk about my past, and what led me to running. I found myself noticing the effect that my decisions made on the way I felt, physically and emotionally, and was able to assume more agency in my own life. I had concrete metrics upon which to measure my progress: minutes per mile, distances beyond my wildest imagination. In noticing these, I was better able to notice less specific measures of progress; how much I could suddenly picture myself achieving professionally, how much value I felt I could bring to relationships, how clearly I am now able to envision what I want in life.
This city has seen the best and the worst of me. New York has seen me at 6am taking drugs with strangers, vomiting, and fainting. New York has also seen me at 6am heading out to volunteer, or meeting a friend to pace them through their first race. Running the perimeter of Manhattan is a way to come full circle, to recognize how fully I can embrace the ugly parts of my past while realizing they don’t condemn me. Running the perimeter of Manhattan is a way for me to make peace with a place that has had a hold on me, and to move on, because my past does not define me, and I am full of possibility.
I want to share this feeling with the world. There is an incredible network of extremely supportive people here in New York that will be coming together on September 10th. In this city where so many live so isolated, I have found people who will inspire others to go just one minute further. Sometimes that’s all we need.
This is more than a fundraiser and we are more than enough.
Please click here for more information about the event and to register. You can run any distance and any pace with us. All are welcome. If you cannot run or attend, please consider donating to The Herren Project through the tickets page.