Yesterday's horrific Boston Marathon bombing appears to be an act of terror. Though the motive and the suspects are still elusive a scant 24 hours later, it's safe to say that the reverberations from the attack are being felt around the country where fear, horror, and yes, terror are all around.
The attack took a sporting event known around the country for its tough qualifying times, jovial crowds, and "heartbreaking" hills and turned it into a crime scene. As an athlete, a Bostonian (now and forever), and a marathon runner who missed qualifying for Boston by eight minutes two years ago, this attack was deeply painful and personal. As the good friend to a woman who DID qualify and for whom I would have been cheering at the finish had she not been sidelined by an injury, I can say this doesn't just feel close to home. This is home.
This is home in every sense of the word. Many yesterday were wondering whether or not this event will change the Boston Marathon and marathons in general for the rest of time. But I know better.
In a resilient city full of fighters, runners are even tougher. Marathon runners, in particular, are a special breed. We are the sorts who get up at 5 a.m. to run sprints until we vomit all over the track just to beat the heat of the noon time sun.
We meet in packs at 6 a.m. on Sundays in summer where GU energy gels and a fuel belt are the dues fee and a quick wave and smile are all it takes to be in the club. We run past dark homes on the Minuteman trail to hit our 20-miler and we plan to do it all again the next Sunday.
For those of us aiming to qualify, the rest of the week means sprints and pace runs that make our hearts pound so hard, if you lifted our shirts, you could count each thump.
That's what a marathon runner can do. Boston, in particular, is a spring race. This means that every runner has trained through slush, snow, sleet, and hail to get to the starting line in Hopkinton. They started their training (if they did it right) sometime near Christmas and they will finish in Copley Square after running a grueling 26.2 miles through Newton, Chestnut Hill, and into the Back Bay.
It takes years to get to Boston, to first run a marathon with a qualifying time and then train through the winter. They call it the "people's race," but that may only be because so many people want to run it. The fact is, running Boston is an honor and a privilege that one must work to achieve. Even those who are running it for charity face daunting minimums that they must raise in order to even attempt to get a bib.
Yes. We are resilient. I know this because the first thing I felt -- after the shock, horror, and fear wore off and after all the 25 people I knew who were running it had been accounted for -- was the urge to run. I felt the urge to lace up my sneakers and bang out a seven-miler.
It has been more than two years since I last ran a full marathon (I have run countless halves in the interim), and my days of 3:35 qualifying times may be behind me. But that doesn't mean I won't try. And that doesn't mean I won't be there, on the finish line next year, cheering on my friends who DO manage to earn their QTs.
I am not afraid. True, I am heartbroken and devastated. And angry. So angry. But I am also full of love for my city. We are a strong city. We are a tough city. We are resilient. Is the Boston Marathon as we know it over? Not for a second.
We will keep on running. Stronger. Faster. Always.
Do you think the Boston Marathon should stop?