From Breezy Point to the finish line

NEW YORK -- A little more than a year after his Breezy Point, Queens, home burned to the ground during Hurricane Sandy, Brian Lang reached his goal of running the New York City Marathon in under four hours.

"This has been the worst year and the greatest year," the 44-year-old foreman/electrician told ESPNNewYork.com after finishing his first NYC Marathon in 3 hours, 54 minutes and 40 seconds Sunday. "It showed what kind of mettle I was made of. I didn’t quit, even though my back was against the wall. I fought through all the adversity. Somehow, I found the time to train two days a week. It wasn’t the best plan, but it was my plan.

"I told my community I would run this under four hours, my first marathon. And I did, so that’s pretty amazing."

Lang's home was one of 100 Breezy Point homes that went down in flames because of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012. He had to move his family -- which included his wife, Tracy and two daughters, Rory, 9 and Carly, 8 -- to Brooklyn.

"It was as bad as anyone could ever have it," Lang said. “My home was burnt to the ground. We fought through the whole year, getting our kids out to Rockaway every morning [for school], a 50-minute commute. My kids have been unbelievable."

Two days before Sandy hit, Lang was in Dallas running a half-marathon there. He was supposed to stay for the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game the following day, but decided to fly back because he feared for his family.

“I had this urgency to come home and get my family out of harm's way,” he said. "Thank God I did.

"From what my neighbors were telling me, my home was one of the first ones to burn down. I would not even want to think what would've happened if my family had stayed."

The day after Sandy hit, Lang got a call from his good friend, Matt Long.

"He told me, 'It's all gone. Everything is gone,' " Lang said. "And I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. He said our whole community is gone. What wasn't destroyed by fire was destroyed by water. Three-thousand homes [in the Breezy Point area] had to be remediated."

Lang's family will eventually return to Breezy Point. Work on the foundation on their new house, which is in the same location as their old one, began last week.

“We’re at the starting line, so it feels really good,” he said.

Lang hopes to move his family back into their new house in 6-7 months.

"And if it happens again, I'd build again," he said.