Run For Boston

I have been writing and deleting posts for weeks. I have nothing new to share, no interesting facts about what training I have been doing (hint: not a whole lot), no revelations, nothing that could be perceived as worthy of wasting time reading.

And then Boston happened. I have lots to say on the subject and have tried a couple of times to get those thoughts on paper. Maybe this time I will succeed.

I was following the details of the race as it went on; I was particularly following the elite women and their race, which ended right before my lunch time run. I was so inspired by their efforts, I knocked out 3 miles with an average pace in the 10:20s; less than half the speed of those elite women but for me, an average pace to be proud of.

You all know, of course, that a few hours later triumph became tragedy.

It doesn’t matter if you run 6 minute miles or 16 minute miles, you are a runner. And runners are a tricky lot. We compete against our treadmill “neighbors” and pay lots of money to race against each other to see who is the fastest, but at the same time, runners are the most selfless competitors I have ever seen. I took a fall last spring on a training run; three people stopped to check on me and give me a hand up. I saw a lady fall last winter; 4 of us spent 15 minutes with her trying to figure out how best to get her back to her vehicle. I’ve seen runners finish a race and then go back and find a slower friend and finish the race again with them. I have seen many examples of runners seeing another racer in distress and helping, even carrying them over the finish line.

Here is another thing about runners. We are a tough lot to scare. When getting up in the dark of winter and running long distances in unfamiliar areas becomes routine; or sweating under the blinding, burning sun on a lunch hour run in July hoping for a little shade on your route to avoid sun stroke is normal; or asking your legs to carry you farther than you drive to work is an exciting Saturday, then the way you define “cause for fear” gets a little distorted.

A finish line has never been a place to fear. Wondering if our loved ones who are cheering us on are safe has never met the definition of “cause for fear.”

Someone tried to change that on Monday. Someone tried to take that pure place of joy and triumph and turn it into a place of fear and uncertainty. What they succeeded at was in turning that one place into an abattoir on Monday; make no mistake. They succeeded in scaring the ever living shit out of us that afternoon. Absolutely.

But I believe we, as runners, as supporters of runners, and as Americans, are resilient enough to recover from the horror of Monday, and carry on into the future without carrying our fear with us. In fact, I know we are. Thanks to social media, runners from around the world are logging 26.2 miles together in support of Boston, of those who fell, of those who ran towards the fallen, of those who couldn’t finish, and of those who will never run again. Runners everywhere are wearing blue and yellow. Runners everywhere are signing up for races they wouldn’t have previously considered.

What happened in Boston was pure evil; the bombs were designed to inflict maximum damage, to maim and kill, and whether by design or by accident, the bombs seemed to target lower limbs of their victims. The irony (or whatever it is) is not lost on anyone.

My position is that we cannot let this event fundamentally change our community. If we do, evil wins. If we turn our finish lines into sterile, heavily guarded militarized zones where our friends and family are forced to stay away for fear for their lives, what would even be the point? Why even bother?

I reject evil, and I refuse to let evil win by embracing the terror it wanted to create. It was an act of terror, but it is up to us whether or not we will actually be terrorized.

I have a finish line to cross in 8 days, at the Hardywood Twilight 4 Miler, and I will cross it with my best friend and without fear.

The Runner’s Prayer
Watch over me today as I run.
This is the day
and this is the time for the race.
Watch over my body.
Keep it free from injury.
Watch over my mind.
May I listen to the signals from within
as I enjoy the scenes from without.
Watch over my spirit.
Watch over my competitors.
Remind us that we all are struggling equally.

Let me win.
Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself.
Let it be an inner win.
A battle won over me.
And may I say at the end,
“I have fought a good fight.
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith.”



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