Usually I save this blog for fun animal photos and stories, but tonight I’m going to take it on a little detour.
The best way for me to clear my head is to write or run and since it is dark and raining I’m going to go the writing route this evening. Obviously.
Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened in Boston.
Sure, I’ve watched the videos and press conferences. I’ve seen the pictures of the heroes and the victims and allowed myself to become sucked into the media swarm. But more than that I have just been remembering.
I ran the Boston Marathon one year ago and it was an experience that will always be special to me. All day I’ve been thinking back on my time in Boston. It was hot, hotter than hot, ninety degrees, at one point, and sunny. There were no leaves on the trees yet and the sun just beat down on the runners all day. But the crowds came out and all the way from Hopkinton to Boston people lined the streets handing us bags of ice, spraying runners with their garden hoses, offering cold rags and gatorade.
Turning onto Boylston Street and seeing the long stretch of humanity waiting to greet me and cheer for all of the runners is nothing short of spectacular. Many times over the last year while I’ve whiled away the miles on a treadmill or through a dreary day, I’ve conjured that memory, smiled, and ran harder.
You see, a marathon is truly all goodness. The good people cheering on the streets. The good friends you meet at the starting line, or when you need a little inspiration at mile 18. Volunteers, handing out blankets and medals. Spectators wanting to give a runner high fives. John once experienced a retired cross country coach, whom he had never met, step out of the crowd to massage a cramp out of his calf. There are people there running for charities or in memory of someone they love. There are people running who are achieving a lifelong dream. Everyone out there is getting the chance to experience the immense strength of which the human body is capable.
To see an event that is all about good become marred by such evil is simply sickening. I cannot fathom a mind that could conjure and act on such a plot.
In Boston, mile 20 is the beginning of what is famously known in the race as “Heartbreak Hill.” Last year, while running, I’d been thinking about this hill from the very start. I knew that the beast would rear before me at a crucial time in the race and so, through the first half of the run I was saving myself for it, battling through the heat. I remember turning to a spectator as the ground began to rise and saying, “Where’s Heartbreak Hill?” The man yelled his answer, “You’re on it! Go! Go! You’re on it!” Go, indeed. I ran as hard as I could up that hill and getting to the top I remember feeling stronger than I’d ever felt before, not physically, no, my body was beyond spent, but more of an internal strength, like nothing could ever break me.
And that is exactly what marathons are all about. That is what Boston is all about. Through the sweat and the miles of a race like that every runner gets to experience what it means to be strong.
Yesterday’s sad events are a tragedy for Boston, the United States and runners everywhere. But just as the pain of 26.2 miles brings out the strength of any marathoner, I hope that the sadness we all feel for yesterday’s victims can pull forth the strength we all have inside of us to stand up for what is truly at the heart of any marathon. For goodness.
I am keeping everyone who suffered yesterday in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that everyone can someday move forward from this, and keep running.