On Saturday I was pouting that I was not on my way to Boston, and then yesterday I was overwhelmingly grateful and relieved to be home with my family, and to know that my loved ones were not standing at that finish line.
My phone rang all day. Texts, emails, comments, and messages came pouring in from people wondering if I was in Boston, or just telling me they were relieved I was not. Since I was registered to run Boston this year, two local newspapers contacted me to see if I was ok. The outpouring of love and concern was powerful, and yet I did not know what to say to everyone. I was so very sad and scared for everyone in Boston - for those who died, those who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and those who were experiencing complete terror on a day that was supposed to be one of joy and celebration. I felt shell-shocked. Horrified. Heartbroken.
Then a friend asked me a question. He asked if I would still race next month in Providence, and asked if what happened in Boston would change my race plans, goals, participation, and dedication to competing in marathons.
In a heartbeat I said, "No way. Not for a second. Fear will not keep me from doing what I love." It was the first real clear thought that I had since I heard about the explosions.
After a conversation with Josh (who was 100% wonderful, supportive, and encouraging and believes as I do, that we can't live in fear) I decided to make sure that my parents, who were planning on being in Providence with me on Mother's Day, still felt ok about going. My parents were in Boston with me last year, and have waited at many a finish line to cheer me on and support me.
I sent a text to my mom, asking if she and Daddy were still ok with being with me next month at the marathon, completing understanding if they had concerns. Her response came back in seconds -
Quickly followed by, "Try to stop us."
I do so very much love them.
Here's the thing - runners are an incredibly dedicated, motivated, passionate, united, supportive, and committed group of people. I love being a part of the running community - my running family. And I believe in my heart that the tragedy in Boston yesterday will only make our running community that much more dedicated, motivated, passionate, united, supportive, and committed. Our sport is one of heart, perseverance, and peace. We will rise above the hatred, violence, horror, and evil that attacked our community yesterday - and we will keep doing what we love.
Marathons are a celebration of the human spirit - you see people of all ages, sizes, and abilities pushing themselves to their limits. You see people cheering each other on, supporting each other, and encouraging each other. Some runners run to raise money for charities they are passionate about or in honor of friends or family members. A finish line at a marathon is filled with powerful emotions of accomplishment, joy, satisfaction, and triumph. I love the quote from the great Kathryn Switzer -
“If you are loosing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”.
Yesterday, we as Americans and we as runners were attacked. And yet even in the midst of the horror, the good in people - the heroes and the selfless - was so evident. There were people running towards the explosion to help the injured, runners running to hospitals to give blood, volunteers going way above and beyond what they had signed up to do, locals opening their homes and resources to the stranded - and a huge outpouring of love and support from the running community around the world.
So what can we do? We can cry. We can be ANGRY. We can be heartbroken. We can be afraid. I have prayed a great deal since yesterday afternoon. I know that I will always have a deep sadness when I think about that day, and will never, ever understand how or why someone could carry out such an attack. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are very much with everyone who was in Boston yesterday, and especially the victims.
And yet we also have to rise above. We have to rise above evil and hate and fear. We have to keep doing what we love. We have to still see all the good and hope in the world - on tragic, terrible days and in the regular every-days. We have to celebrate the heroes and the selfless. That's how we move forward, and not let the bad guys win.
I choose to keep running. That's what runners do.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit." - Bernard Williams
"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The is indomitable."