I had written my blog post this week immediately after the tragedy that occurred in Boston. A few days later, I am glued to my TV, watching as a standoff surrounding the second suspect is being televised live. All I can think about is how long and harrowing this week has been for Boston and our entire country. My heart goes out to everyone involved, and I'm praying for the safety of our law enforcement and innocent bystanders.
My thoughts are in Boston. I know I'm far from alone in this. As a runner myself, the tragedy on Monday hit way too close to home. I, like everyone else, am left with many questions and also many things to be angry about following this latest senseless tragedy.
What happened near the finish line of the Boston Marathon earlier this week is truly horrifying for everyone -- for all Americans, for runners everywhere, and for those whose dreams were literally shattered. For those marathoners, that day should have stood out as one of the best days of their lives due to their extensive training, discipline, and determination. That dedication should have earned them, all of them, the chance to get to that finish line!
The Boston Marathon is THE race -- the one that sets runners apart from those who dabble in marathons like me. The runners I look up to because they have qualified to get there, which, to me, makes them the "real deal" as far as running goes! They are the ones who inspire me to lace up and pound the pavement on days I don't feel like it. They give me hope that, maybe, just maybe, I too can someday qualify to run Boston!
Each and every one of them deserved that hard earned finish line. Period. I've only run one full marathon, but I still remember the physical pain and emotional torture I went through to get to that glorious finish line; and by the time I crossed it, I had envisioned that finish line scores of times -- throughout training and especially during the race -- as a coping method to get there. The fact that the finish line was “stolen” from so many of these great runners due to this despicable act -- about 1,200 runners, according to reports -- and although I realize this issue pales greatly in comparison to the myriad of other issues that many have faced, I am positive these runners feel robbed of their finish ... it's like eating the cake and having the icing snatched away just before you get to sink your teeth into it. And, actually, that example doesn't even do that feeling justice, I am sure!
I'm also saddened for the runners who DID finish. This was supposed to be their day to bask in their own accomplishment that their superhuman hard work afforded them. Post-marathon days are known as a day to eat (lots, anything you want!), relax, and relive your racing triumph over and over again.
I'm outraged for these skilled runners whose triumphant memories have been replaced by the sights and sounds of a bomb-riddled war zone. I cannot imagine their horror and that of their families as within minutes of reuniting, their jubilation turned to panic, fear, and the unknown! My thoughts go next to the crowds of encouraging bystanders who stand along the marathon course, selflessly and tirelessly cheering for each runner, whether they know them personally or not. Do you know what a difference those constant shouts and cheers of encouragement make to an extremely fatigued body who just wants to give up? With tears in my eyes as I write this, I struggle to explain the gratitude I have for each and every person who has ever lined a marathon course to cheer runners from the start line to the finish line!
I've been called by my bib number, slapped five as I passed, and have smiled, countless times, after reading the many creative homemade signs that these amazing people wave throughout the long course! Yep, I'm angry and saddened along with everyone else that some of these “important players” were injured or lost due to this unthinkable act. Furthermore, my thoughts wander to my next marathon run. My initial reaction left me feeling hesitant and fearful. And as if to confirm my own feelings, following the news, my oldest daughter announced to me, “You are never running another marathon” but I tried to reason through it with her, and we came to the same conclusion that we can't stop living due to fear. In fact, we all need to take back what is OURS and run even MORE marathons and crowd the sidelines of marathon courses to show that we WILL NOT allow fear to cripple our dreams, even though it's left a potentially crippling impact in various ways on each one of us.
Regardless of this determination to carry on, no one will argue that our innocence lost as a result of this marathon explosion is sickening -- and even infuriating. We will never again be able to run a marathon or cheer from the sidelines the same way again. It will haunt us all for always. But, once again, we need to stand our ground -- and run marathons on it!!
All this stress just makes me want to run harder and faster ... So, I'm going out to run ... and this run is for all who ran in or participated in Boston 2013, and for those who were injured or lost on that day -- as well as for all the heroes who rushed in to help them! Even more than before, you've inspired us, Boston ... and for that, we thank you! Our thoughts and prayers are with you all!
How has the Boston tragedy affected you?
Image via Kate Gosselin