The funny thing about significant moments in history is that the memory of where you were when they happened never fades. Not ever. I remember last year on Marathon Monday, I arrived at work and there was a buzz in the air because the Boston Marathon, the pinnacle of a runner’s career, was underway. My friend Katherine had an amazing race that day and came away with a huge PR. I was still waiting to hear from several others.
And then it happened. A customer walked into the store and said, “Did you hear about the explosion in Boston?” Wait…what?! She had gotten a text from her daughter that there was some kind of explosion near the finish line. She seemed to think it was related to a gas line. And then she got another text. Another explosion. I was in denial. I desperately wanted to believe that this was an accident. A freak thing. Not someone targeting the running community, the people who I consider my extended family.
Katie was in the office and she pulled up the information on the computer. We couldn’t believe what was happening. We sent frantic messages to the people we knew who were somewhere on the course.
It took several hours before everyone I knew was accounted for. In the meantime, I cried. I cried a lot. I wondered why. Why would anyone attack runners?!
It’s Marathon Monday yet again and as I type this I am wearing a “Boston stands as one” t-shirt and listening to Katie Couric talk to the victims from last year. I’m getting all the updates I can about today’s race. Currently, Shalane Flannigan is leading the elite women a full minute ahead of the course record. Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi are hanging at the front of the men’s pack.
Over the years running has taught me so much about myself, my own resilience and my ability to stand up in the face of my fears. Running has taught me how to keep going even when it hurts and it feels impossible. Given the events in Boston last year, and what’s happening there today, I know that I am not alone in my lessons from running.
Last night, Farrell called me while I was driving home from a weekend in Chicago with my kiddos. We stayed with my friend Leslie, who a few short years ago thought I was insane for running marathons. This weekend she will run the Christie Clinic half marathon as a training run for an Ultramarathon she will complete in Switzerland this summer. And now, thanks to that phone call from Farrell, I will be able to join Leslie, Lindsey and many others I know at Christie Clinic this weekend, including my friend Ray, who has been training for his BQ. Linds called me last night so that she could get me signed up before registration closed.
On Saturday, I will be toeing the line of a course that is somewhat symbolic. I am not fully trained to run a half marathon yet, so it won’t be fast. And it might not be pretty. But it will represent my resilience, my capability to come back from the worst of myself and to look deep inside to find the best of myself.
3 years ago, my friends Emily and Stephanie went to Christie Clinic and qualified for Boston. I was supposed to be there with them that day. My training had been flawless. But three weeks before the race, my life crashed and burned. When I received the text from my girlfriends with their smiling faces saying that they qualified, I was under a blanket on my couch wondering how I could even go on with life. Literally. I was in the depths of despair. I was at a point of complete devastation and distress. I was contemplating never eating again so I could just waste away and be done with it. It sounds morbid, it is.
But weirdly, it was that very same day, that night actually, that something changed. As I sat pushing my dinner around on my plate, I hit a turning point. I found my inner strength and I was ready to push on and persevere in my struggles. But I knew my life had to change to be worth living.
Since that day, Stephanie went to Boston and ran in 2012, when it was so bloody hot. In 2013, Emily and Stephanie were both there. Emily had made it through the finish before the bombs went off. Stephanie was stopped just short of the finish line, where her girls were waiting for her. They were right between the two explosions. I am happy to report they are all fine, but I cannot fathom how agonizing that had to be for them until they were all reunited a few hours later at the hotel.
Emily is out there running again today. Like so many others, she went back. They are looking evil right in the face and saying, “You don’t scare me. And you can’t stop me.”
There is so much strength emanating from the city of Boston today, it can be felt all across the world. This makes me proud to be a part of the running community; a community of people who lifts each other up. We encourage and help each other. We push each other to be better.
In the past few years, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. Through that, I’ve run a lot of races. And I’ve had several races that have concluded with a finish just minutes shy of my Boston qualifying time. I’m close. I’m so close. It makes me a little sad that I am not out there today taking to the streets of Boston. However, considering that I’m coming back from an injury, I am reminded that everything happens for a reason.
But here’s what I know: I won’t stop striving. I won’t stop running. I won’t stop living. And I won’t ever stop dreaming big dreams. My day is coming and I know that when I get there, it will be glorious.
To everyone running Boston today: Thank you for being the personification of strength and courage. Thank you for putting your heart and soul on the line and showing the world what passion looks like. Thank you for representing the best of humanity. #bostonstrong