It’s hard to know where to start.
It’s hard to put words to this. It’s difficult to conscientiously avoid the trap that I can easily fall into of making something that isn’t about me, about me, in what’s a very human reaction to try and help, in some way, to connect. To make it better.
I know that more than three people died yesterday, in horrible, preventable ways. Deaths occurred because people didn’t care enough to do what was right. Deaths occurred because people didn’t drive carefully. Deaths occurred because governments care more about power than people. I understand that it’s naive to mourn overmuch about events like this, which are statistically insignificant. I get that.
But the truth is, I’m a runner. I’m a slow runner, but I’m a runner. I’ve participated in large events like this, and I’ve experienced the camaraderie that occurs on the course. I’ve cheered on strangers running the Boston Marathon. This is the event that planted the seed. Standing in the rain at Coolidge Corner, giving strangers high-fives, that’s where it started for me. The runners who had already come so far and had made it up Heartbreak Hill, were in the home stretch, about to enter the City of Boston — and their home stretch was farther than I would had ever imagined I’d be able to run.
Running has brought a lot of good things into my life. I started running to reclaim 20 minutes, three times a week, when my youngest child was about 9 months old. I was amazed when I could do each step of Couch-to-5k; I could run EIGHT MINUTES without stopping! My first race was the Great Race,and it was exhilarating and empowering. My kids are so proud of my running and love to run in their smaller races. And even in my low moments of running, I’ve learned that even after bad races, even after runs where one mile feels like a hundred miles, running is always there when you’re ready to come back.
Boston was my home for eight years. Although it never quite felt like home when I was there, Boston is where I fell in love with my husband. It’s where I re-met my best friend, while waiting for the train at Boylston Station. Boston is where I was a writer — where I really lived my life as a writer. Boston is where I went to work, at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley, and worked with some really great people. Boston is where I got the best news of my life, that I was going to be a mother.
Some of the best things that have ever happened to me, happened in Boston.
And the best day of the year in Boston, in my opinion, is Marathon Monday.
So when I see footage of a bomb going off in front of where we registered for our wedding, at the library where I studied and read, at the Copley stop I’d frequently use to get to work, in front of the Lenox where our dear friends were married (and was the last time I’d been in Boston)? It’s hard.
Thinking about the runners who’d come 25 miles and the race was canceled? Recognizing that it’s small potatoes, man, does that suck.
When I hear that an 8-year-old boy has been killed, while cheering for his father? When I know my kids have been brought to finish lines to cheer me on? When I know it’s all too possible that I’d be bringing my 8-year-old daughter down to the finish line, as I had done before, had we stayed in Boston? When I think about the dad who was running, and who now has lost a son and has a wife and daughter in the hospital with serious injuries… it’s heartbreaking. It’s almost too much to bear.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a dream that a friend’s child died in a car accident. I don’t know why my subconscious chose that scenario to sort out these emotions but I will say that I breathed an irrational sigh of relief as I sought out this child and saw this child, happy, whole, and healthy… just like all kids should be.
I was going to rest today. It was supposed to be drizzly and rain showery. But I put on my race shirt and running shoes because I am a runner.
Running is about not stopping.
Running is about keeping it up.
Running is about doing more than you thought you could.
Running is about going faster when you want to stop.
Running is about slowing down and running a half mile with a stranger who isn’t looking so hot, just to give that runner a boost.
Running is about rediscovering the kind of joy that we felt as children, running because it’s just more fun to run than to walk.
Running is about being outside and loving the sun and the rain and the snow (not hail though… that stuff is no fun).
Running is about feeling your feet moving your legs, however short and jiggly mine may be.
Running is about feeling alive.
Running is about going all in.
Today we are all runners. Today I ran with Boston in my heart. Tears in my eyes, blisters on my toes, chafing on my thighs, and Boston in my heart.