I thought I knew what I would write—at least, I had an idea of how to start. After getting my kids ready for school this morning, kissing and hugging them extra tight, and saying goodbye to Joe who had to leave the house early, I headed out for a run. I would get my training run in and come home and write, I told myself.
Like so many others reeling from yesterday’s horror in Boston, my mind has been in a constant swirl, my body racked with emotion. I turned to a run, a tempo run according to my training plan, for some solace.
I started with a one-mile warm-up, a loop that started at the end of my driveway and took me up a slight incline and then a nearly snow-free hilly dirt path that kept me at an easy-does-it pace. Once I hit pavement again, though, I kicked it in. My training plan called for tempo, but seeing my mile times later, I realized I was pushing it even harder, going even faster. I ran 7:38 that first tempo mile, 7:08 the next, then 7:20. I rested in between each one—actually, I was near gasping there after the third tempo mile. And then I slowed to a more normal 8:45 for my cool down, which lasted the final mile and half back to my house.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Boston the entire time–the runners, including my dear friend Krista who ran the race yesterday, the spectators, the volunteers, the first responders…each and every Boston resident and visitor who was there yesterday. I prayed to God for comfort and peace for all involved. And I thought about how just one year ago I was running that very same race. How Joe and our three kids, and my very best friend and her family, were all there watching for me, cheering on the thousands and thousands of runners…and walking the city streets to come find me at the finish line. It could have been me there at the finish line when the explosions went off. It could have been my family, my friend and her family…
The thing is, it was my family and my friends—my running family and friends. I wasn’t there, but I feel almost like I was there. My heart is there in Boston—has been ever since we arrived there marathon weekend last April, when my kids had their first taste of big-city public transit and I toed up to the start line of the nation’s oldest marathon after months and months of sweat, commitment and dogged determination. My friend Dimity said it so well today when she shared that this tragedy has hit so incredibly close to home for her because it happened to people like her, at an event so, so familiar. She wrote: “Everything—my friends, my work, my lifestyle—put me right there, except that I wasn’t right there.” I so get that.
I thought I knew how I’d start this post, but it changed after I came into my bedroom after my run, soaked with sweat, feeling equal parts grateful for the run and still so heavy-hearted. I sat on my bed, stretching out my whipped legs, and picked up my phone. A friend had posted a Boston Globe column by Kevin Cullen, and as I read his eloquent words, tears began streaming down my face. When I got to the part about the 8-year-old boy who died, how just moments before he’d ran out to give his dad a hug at the finish line and then ran back to his spectator spot with his mom and sister where the first explosion hit, I lost it. I began sobbing. I just can’t believe this. I just can’t believe this. Why? Why did this happen? Why this innocent little boy? How many times had my own children run out onto the race course or near the finish line for a quick hug from mom? How many times has my amazing family come out to cheer me on, to wait hours just to see me pass a particular point in the race, to endure weather of all kinds (last year’s Boston heat the toughest, hands down), so I could see their smiling faces and they could offer up the very best encouragement a runner will ever receive: “Go, Mom, go! You’re doing great! You’re looking great! Finish strong!”
I woke up yesterday morning filled with excitement to stream the 117th Boston Marathon on my computer. I watched in awe as the elite runners navigated the course so smoothly. I smiled and nodded along as commentators spoke of the route’s landmarks, starting with Hopkinton and then Wellsley College where the college girls offer up kisses to runners, the rolling Newton hills, the infamous Heartbreak Hill, the Citgo sign signaling the final miles…and finally Boylston Street, where runner dreams long have, and are supposed to, become reality. I still can’t believe how a day meant for celebration—for runners and their loved ones, and the very city itself—could turn into something so wrong.
I am an optimistic person. I try my very hardest to believe the very best in people. But I am confused right now. I am sad, and mad. And not feeling all that hopeful.
And yet, I know that I can’t succumb to the feeling that all is lost. It is not. It feels as though it is. But it is not. I have been encouraged reading stories coming out of Boston, of heroic people who helped however they could. I read so much about how we can be strong—stronger than we ever imagined—in the face of such unfathomable tragedy. We can’t—we won’t—let evil win (it never wins, as my boys often say to each other while watching our favorite Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies–and I believe it, too).
Today I am wearing my Boston 2012 shirt. I wear it proudly, showing my respect and love for Boston, for the marathon, for those so horribly touched by this. I pray that justice will be done, and mostly and forever, I pray for those who were there, whose lives are forever changed.
I do have hope. I am a runner. I will keep running.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” — Katherine Switzer. One of my all-time favorite running quotes.