Monday, June 24, 2013

Marathon On My Mind - Boston Revisited

This morning I found out that my name has been drawn to run the Chevron Houston Marathon.  I’ll write more on this once I can digest, accept, and come to terms with the idea of running another 26.2 miles.  But today, with the marathon on my mind, I find myself thinking a lot about Boston on April 15, 2013.
 I am sure that by now everything that could be said about the horrible events of the Boston Marathon bombing has been said.  But please bear with me as I address it here.
Just like the rest of the country, I was shocked and horrified at the evil that overtook what should have been a triumphant and inspiring moment.  But having run and finished 26.2 miles myself, I felt especially stung by the events.  This was personal.  I felt as if the people that did this tarnished something that for me was about so much more than just running.  I didn’t know what to do.  Of course, I could and did make my donations to the Red Cross in the hopes of helping out those directly affected.  But I longed for something more.  I needed a connection.  So, the next day my husband and I joined some friends and a running group and we took off pounding the pavement in honor of the Boston Marathon.  It might sound like a small contribution, and it was, but it was not insignificant.  Later in the day, I found out that runs in support of Boston were organized all over the city, state, and country.  There was the connection I was longing for.  We runners (and non-runners) in one day came together and did all we knew how to do.  We ran.  It was a reminder of the bond that we all share.  It was a symbolic showing that we are all in this long run together and when we fall we will  join together and rise up and keep running. 
I will forever be struck by the line, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”  That’s exactly it.  A marathon embodies the good in people.  First, there are the runners who put themselves through a grueling 26.2 miles for the pure joy of accomplishing a goal they set for themselves.  Let’s face it, most of us are not out there to set world records or make an Olympic team.  Most of us are out there because something inside of us burns for the challenge and for the accomplishment.  Second, there are the volunteers.  These people get up very early in the morning to watch a bunch of strangers running by while holding out water/Gatorade or by calling out our pace or to set up medical centers or anything else we could possibly need.  Lastly, and I swear the most important group of all, the wonderful and generous crowds.  Those who show up with signs, and bells, and music, and mostly just with their voices to cheer us along.  If you have never experienced it, let me tell you, these race day cheerleaders are the sole reason half of us make it across that finish line.  Human nature at its finest.
That afternoon in the rain and humidity, I left my earphones in the car and I used the 3+ miles to reflect on what my marathon experience had meant to me and what had been taken from those in Boston.  The only fear I faced while running was of not reaching my goal pace.  I never had to fear for my safety or for the safety of my loved ones gathering to cheer me on.  I cried several times during my marathon, but only tears of relief and release, nothing compared to the tears of loss those runners must have cried in Boston.  My marathon run was a shining example of all that is good in humanity and the 2013 Boston Marathon will forever be tarnished by what can be so wrong with humanity.  What I realized while we ran that day was that I had never been truly grateful for the 26.2 miles I had run.  Now I am.
And now, as I face the idea of running it again, I ask of you these two things:
  1.      Be grateful for all of the runs you have had that have been safe and fun and fear free.
  2.      Do not let evil win.  Be the proof that humanity wins, always.  Participate in a marathon.  Run, volunteer, or cheer.  God knows I will need you along for the run.


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