Friday, April 15, 2016

3 Years Later - What Do You Say?

Three years ago today, the running world was rocked by the unthinkable tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

At the time, the Boston Marathon was not something that I ever saw myself doing. I was in complete awe of anyone who did do it and did not see myself on the same plane - ever. Boston may as well have been on another planet. In fact, I had never even run a marathon at that point. When Husband and I visited Boston the year before, I didn't even go to see the finish line (which seems insane to me now). It just wasn't even within my realm of existence.

Below is what I wrote on Tuesday, the day after the bombings. I talked about Boston being a pipe dream.

Today - at this moment in fact - I should be landing in Boston for marathon weekend; to participate not as a volunteer or spectator, but as a runner. Last night, Husband's phone alerted us to a 6:20 am flight. He had forgotten to delete the reminder. Until then, I hadn't really even been thinking about it. This morning I woke up feeling very sorry for myself and the "injustice" of it all.

Then I logged on to social media and saw all of the reminders that today is the anniversary of the bombing. Now I feel stupid and shallow for whining about my "loss" on this day, in the face of the true loss felt by hundreds of people whose lives were forever changed on Monday, April 15, 2013.

I'm re-sharing my post below to remind myself of what it felt like that day and to be grateful that everyone I knew was safe. To be grateful that I have a strong body that has allowed me to realize my pipe dream. That I have two legs, two feet - unmarred by shrapnel. That even though it stinks that I didn't make the cutoff this year, I will be there next year. There is much to be happy about, even if I'm not in Beantown this weekend.

For all you fast bastards who filled up the slots ahead of me and are heading up to run Boston on Monday - have a fantastic race. I tip my proverbial hat to your speediness, grit, and achievements and truly hope that you enjoy every moment of your hard-earned reward. I mean that with all of my heart.

Oh, and have a cannoli at Mike's for me, would you?

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What Do You Say - posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am not particularly gifted when it comes to eloquence. I'll leave that to the real writers.

There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. I'm just going to sort out my thoughts.
Yesterday, when the news came from Boston, my heart went to my throat and my mind went into overdrive.

Katherine, Theresa, Judith, Misti, Sarah.

Where were they? I knew they had all finished by the time the explosion happened. But were they back at the Finish among the spectators? Had they gone back to wait for someone? To meet their cheering squads? 

Please God, let them all be ok.

Why? Why would someone do this? Why would someone do this to runners? The runners I know are caring, loving people who give give give. Runners don't hurt anyone. Why would someone want to hurt them?

The spectators. Good God... the spectators. People who were there with nothing but goodness in their heart, showing their support to the people they loved or maybe even just to complete strangers. 
Boston. A city that had captured my heart last year and held it firmly since. My favorite American city. The one American city that I would move to in a heartbeat if I could. Back Bay - where I stay when I go because I can't get enough of its charming streets filled with an endlessly fascinating diversity of people, beauty, and good food.

I couldn't think of anything else for the rest of the day. One by one, I found out that Theresa, Judith, Misti, and Sarah were ok. But I hadn't heard from Katherine. I texted, I tweeted, I Facebooked. "The data networks are just overwhelmed. I'm sure she is fine." I kept repeating to myself. 

Finally, hours later, word that she was fine. 

By 4:30, my head was thumping with a headache that had begun that morning and had increased throughout the day. I still couldn't believe what had happened. My mind was still racing. I didn't know what to do.

So, I did the only thing I could think of. The only thing that would help me calm down. 
That thing, of course, was to go for a run.

I ran Monument Avenue. The place where just 2 days before I had been lucky enough to feel the power of running. Where nearly 40,000 runners and thousands more spectators and volunteers had come together to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit. To cheer each other on. To help each other. To love and care for each other. To accomplish something. 

To celebrate LIFE and DOING. 

I meditated on Boston during the run. My thoughts began with the runners, then the spectators. As I sorted out what I was feeling, I couldn't stop thinking about how each of them - how each of us - has a light and a story. I believe that each of us has a spark of the divine. That our role as human beings is to respect and nurture that light in one another. Why else are we such social creatures? We need each other. Think about how much a random compliment from a stranger brightens up your day. How happy hour with a friend can make even the worst day better. How your running buddy can grab your hand at the finish and give you that last boost that you need to get it done. How study after study shows that being social and engaging with people helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer's in the elderly. 

When terrible things like this happen, like most people, I wonder what the person who carried out the act was thinking. I wonder what kind of life they had... what happened to them to make them want to harm someone else in such a random, senseless way? Deep down, I feel that the people who do these things have forgotten that we all have a light. They have lost touch with humanity. 

What can we do as a society to help these people? To remind them that everyone is important. That they are important and can contribute to the world. 

I'm not sure what we can do. For my part, I'm going to try to keep in mind the golden rule of do unto others as you would have done unto you. 

I'm going to keep running. I'm going to keep living. 

As I ran through what was the finish area for Saturday's Monument Avenue 10k, I sent up a prayer for the people whose finish line dreams were destroyed today. I sent my thanks that I am running again and that I can do this. That I can commune with my fellow runners - the ones that I know and don't know - who give me so much joy and happiness. 

Ironically, I had never really been much interested in the Boston Marathon before this year. But this year, the bug got me.  Even though I have never run a marathon and am not anywhere fast enough to qualify, the pipe dream of someday, somehow, running Boston entered my head. 

Now, all I can think is that I have to go. I have to go to Boston. Even if I don't run, I will go spectate or volunteer. I love Boston. I want to be in that city, on a day that means so much to the sport I love.

To prove that the power of good people is stronger than hate.

My Mom called me at 6 pm, as I was driving home after my run. "Are you ok?" she simply asked. I said I was, and that all of my friends were too. I was surprised at the tremor in my voice. Then she said, "I'm glad you are finished running races for a while."

I knew she would be worried. I know that she will worry from now on and that sucks. She's my mom - it's what she does. I'm her daughter - it's what I do too. But I said to her, "You know what Mom, nothing is safe anymore. It can happen anytime, anywhere. It could happen tomorrow. I can't let it stop me."

It won't stop us. We just have to keep loving. Keep being there for each other. Keep running, Keep living. 

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