What happened yesterday is a tragedy. I woke up extra early, got my coffee kick and streamed the Boston Marathon live beginning at 8:30am. Meghan, Laura and I were all texting like mad people tracking our friends from college who were lucky enough to qualify this year. Casey and I were all a-buzz tracking the elites and commenting things like “Damn, look at those abs! Look at those women fly!” Marathon Monday is a holiday… and now it will be remembered as something else.
When things like this happen, I think a common way of coping is to make each situation personal. We share where we were when 911 happened… we ask our parents where they were when JFK was assassinated. We do this as a way of inserting ourselves into these moments, as a way of grieving… a way of remembering… a way of coping. What I’m about to say is not to reduce the terrorist attacks simply as a “runners thing”. It’s the only way I know how to write about how I’m feeling.
The marathon is one of the most powerful things. It is an obstacle, a battle, a test… a triumph. Running is unlike any other sport, in that even though there is a “winner” the race is about you. Spectators, fellow runners, volunteers; they are all there to see you do it. Because you are running they feel like it’s not an impossible feat. For a moment they, too, might consider running a marathon or even a 5k. I noticed yesterday at the start of the elite women and even DURING the race, those women exchanged smiles, words, and looks of encouragement. Running is a community like no other and unless you live it day in and day out… you-just-don’t-get-it.
A marathon is the single greatest place on earth. You feel your best even though physically you’re a mess. I believe when I crossed the finish line in Philly I was the best version of myself. I’ve hid struggles plaguing me and my health for a year now. From my closest friends and majority of my family… but my running knows all. It knows my insecurities, my successes. My fears and my dreams. I still put on a brave face 365 days out of the year, but each run is my time to take the walls away. No one really understands what it means to lace up everyday until it becomes such a part of your life that you miss it by the end of the day. Running has allowed me to be honest with myself about my problems and how I deal with stress and anxiety.
To see explosions at the 26.2-mile marker when I’d argue you’re at your most elated, most broken down, most numb with cheer is a gut wrenching sight. The 2013 Boston Marathon will change running forever. I hate to think that folks might resist majors now where entries are well into the thousands. But, I can’t stop but wonder how the London Marathon will operate this Sunday… or even how I’ll feel getting to the line in Chicago this October. You’re one in a sea of thousands, but I hope runners won’t swim away in fear. We won’t… that’s not what runners do. We are endurers who can handle the pain and the discomfort for that taste of triumph.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Boston. Matt’s family was at the event, and I was so very happy to receive emails from Denise, his mother, letting me know although they were near the blasts they are all OK.