Today marks the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.
In the past year, we have seen courage, resilience, and acts of compassion that far outweigh the heinous horrid acts committed that day.
Next Monday, the 118th Boston Marathon will take place. Many of the spectators, volunteers and runners who were injured will be watching. Many of them will even be running, some on new prosthetic legs, including Heather Abbot.
Today, in memory, I repost my piece “As a Runner I Will Run (Thoughts on Boston).”
It’s been a while since I’ve gone for a run; I haven’t run since I said goodbye to Spot. But today seems like a good day to start back. No, scratch that. Today is the perfect day to start back.
So today, and tomorrow, and next Monday, and the next . . . I will run.
As a runner, as a volunteer, as a spectator, as a human being, I will run.
I’ll be Running — you guessed it — on Sober.
I had to do some soul-searching before deciding this — I didn’t want to take the spotlight away from Deanna or Josie who shared their “Life in Six Songs” yesterday. But they are both survivors–Josie is even in training for a 5k–I have a feeling they’d understand. But please do visit their post and then visit their blogs; they are phenomenal ladies.
As a Runner, I Will Run (Thoughts on Boston)
* originally posted April 16, 2013
As a runner, I am devastated.
Of course, simply being human makes me sad–my eyes take in images from the news, my ears hear over and over again the sounds of explosions and people screaming–of course, we are all sad. But this. As a runner, I feel this in my gut, and there is a mournful, wailing, angry force that pulls and constricts and tortures my insides. “This could have been you,” it taunts again and again in my ear, “this could have been you.”
And in a way, it was me.
As a runner, I have been there.
As a marathon runner, I have seen the crowds that gather to cheer and support running loved ones. I have high-fived eight-year old boys gathered along the side-lines. I have smiled gratefully at their moms standing behind them– “thank you!” I try to squeak out after miles and miles of exertion have stolen my voice. I have taken cups of water from volunteers lining the roads. I have given thumbs-ups to medical staff as I trotted by their tents. I have found inspiration from law enforcement working the races–even comparing them to song characters afterward.
I have smiled at race photographers, hoping for that one decent race picture. I have “oohed” and “awwwed” and petted dogs belonging to race spectators. I have gratefully read every home-made sign intended to urge us runners along–even those “You’re almost there!” when we’ve still got ten miles to go. I have smiled and taken a banana from a four-year old girl with the softest looking curls of golden hair I have ever seen–and I don’t even like bananas. I have savored the final stretch of a long race, eyeing the finish line, then scanning the crowds for friends and loved ones, before calling up all of my remaining energy to simply cross the finish.
I have been there.
At my very first half-marathon in Virginia, my dad wedged himself into a prime viewing spot at the finish line. He stood upon soundstage boxes, probably climbing over trash cans and barricades just to cheer me on. It was a big event, there were thousands of runners. I wasn’t among the first finishers, not even close. I was slow. He was at the finish for a long time waiting for me and cheering on the others. He would have been at the finish line at Boston too. He would have been waiting for me, probably for a long time. My mom, sick with cancer, was at home getting updates from my dad on the phone; she would have been at Boston though.
I am the Boston runner who mourns her father and her mother.
My husband was there during my first marathon. In fact, he was at each mile waiting for me during the last six-mile stretch; driving on ahead of me to meet me with a water bottle that I was too tired to carry. He would have been at Boston waiting for me too. I would have found him on the sidelines and hugged him before going on to finish.
I am the Boston runner who mourns her spouse and children.
True, I wasn’t at Boston, so I can only imagine the pain the runners of Boston are feeling. I can only imagine the “what ifs”:
What if I had run faster? What if I hadn’t stopped to used the bathroom? What if I didn’t have to keep stopping to tie my shoelaces? What if I hadn’t had cramps? What if I hadn’t walked, and then walked some more? What if I hadn’t deferred from the heat last year? What if I told them to wait at the hotel for me instead? What if my flight had been cancelled? What if the weather had been a little bit cooler, a little bit warmer?
What if I had seen something? What if I had said something?
What if I hadn’t run fast enough to qualify? What if I had listened to my doctors and not run on this bad ankle? What if I hadn’t stopped to pet that dog? What if I had? What if I hadn’t said “I love you.”? What if I had never decided to run Boston? What if I was just a slow, thirty-something, recreational runner with no shot of ever being fast enough to qualify for Boston, sitting at her dining room table wondering “what if I had been there?”
What if I had been there?
So many questions and so much sadness, so much anger at a senseless horrendous crime.
As a runner, I know those that ran Boston will never run another race again with the same innocence and excitement. Running has been altered forever in their lives. Some will stop running. Most will not.
Most runners will continue to run, because that is what we do. When we are faced with pain and confusion and questions and heartache and loss and anger, we run. Running is how we survive, running is how we cope.
As a runner, I am devastated.
As a runner, I will run.
Today, as a runner, I will run for Boston.
And tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, I will run. I will run for those that cannot. I will run for every volunteer, every spectator, every family member, every friend, every young child, and every dog that has ever lined a finish area. I will run with renewed gratitude for as long as I am fortunate enough to do so.
As a runner, I will not cower in the face of terrorism.
I will move forward, and I will run.