The entire running community has been shaken off their foundations in the last two days. I was sitting in my office Monday afternoon, just finished class, when I was about to check on the progress of a few people I knew that were running the Boston Marathon, and instead I saw unbelievable news in my Facebook feed. Can’t be true…just can’t be true. When I went to corroborate the horrific reports of bomb explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon at several news websites, I was left in a complete state of disbelief and shock. In the not-distant-enough past, I have been washed with grief over senseless acts of horrific violence. Shootings at a college campus hit close to home (I teach on a college campus), and I immediately reached out to people I knew at Virginia Tech when that happened. Shooting at a movie theater was a terrible headline, and although I was shaken and disturbed, it didn’t transport me there to experience the horror personally. Tragic events at an elementary school still has me completely undone every time I think about it…I have elementary school aged kids and simply cannot fathom that horror, and my heart breaks for that entire community. Running has been my outlet, my stress reliever, my coping mechanism for all the ugliness in the world. Running is sacred to me, and the world somehow makes sense when I run, train, and race. Bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?! That hits way too close to home. An 8 year old adorable brown-eyed little boy with a toothy grin as a victim?! Still makes my eyes sting – I look at his picture and I see my own adorable brown-eyed, buck toothed little almost-8 yr old boy who I have hugged a little more often than usual lately (and I’m a hugger…fortunately he’s young enough to still be a very willing recipient!).
I’ve only run one marathon. I’ve only been a runner for a few years, but it has become a significant part of my life and how I define myself. Distance runners understand that the Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of marathons, and that a BQ is ridiculously tantalizing. Non-runners also have heard of the revered Boston Marathon, even if they think BQ is the lazy man’s abbreviation for barbeque. I’m sure I’ll never have a BQ marathon. My last (aka first, aka only) marathon time was 4:21:23. BQ for my age group is 3:45:00. Shave 36:37 off my time (and run 1:14/mile faster)?! Most likely not. Even if I did…registration opens in September, and my marathon isn’t until October. Registration for last year’s Boston Marathon filled within a month…and for the 2014 event, I’m guessing the response of the running community will be (this is an understatement, I’m sure) overwhelming. Registration will be full long before I toe the starting line at the Twin Cities Marathon on 10/6/2013. I spent Monday afternoon virtually paralyzed and definitely sucked into the coverage, as I listened to the live stream from the Boston NPR affiliate while I tried to work. I had a somber, contemplative run shared with my BRFs early on Tuesday morning…the previous day’s finish line tragedy heavy on all of our hearts – but the run, shared with two additional runners who were affected as up close and personal with the horror as I was – helped.
I don’t know who’s responsible. I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish. A quote that appeared on Facebook shortly following the event captures my thoughts exactly:
“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.” ~ Mighty Brighties (David and Kelvin Bright)
If anything, this horrific event has strengthened my resolve to give 110% to the discipline, determination, and desire for my marathon training this summer. I think that same sentiment is reverberating throughout the running community, as evidenced by a reports of commitment to Boston, as well as other marathons. The running community is outraged, and they’re banding together to fight back in the best way we know how…with strength, determination, perseverance, faith, and hope. What can we do? I’ve seen some suggestions online (e.g., 10 Ways to Support Boston) that I love…but most of all I’m going to remember, pray, and keep running. I know this event will weigh heavily on my mind and in my heart through training and at the marathon, but between that and the primary reason I’m running (This one’s for my Dad!), I know that the miles will be very memorable.