Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Can I claim to have a running blog, casual though it may be, and not post about the Boston Marathon? Yes, I probably can, but I'm gonna go ahead and say something anyway. 

Tonight I went for a run because it was on my training schedule, but also because I wanted to be around other runners who wanted to be around other runners—because this is how we help each other make sense of something so apparently senseless. It's how we show our solidarity, pay our condolences, meditate on our heavy-heartedness, and send out our positive vibes. A lot of us were wearing blue and yellow or race shirts, but everyone seemed to be making the same silent statement. 

I have never run the Boston Marathon. I probably never will run the Boston Marathon. And if I do, it will certainly never be because I qualify for it. 

But I have run marathons. And before that I ran half-marathons. An before that I just put one foot in front of the other. And really, that's all you need to do to get it. Everyone grasps how horrific this event was, but for runners, there's an addendum to that, which can't be put into words and which only we among ourselves can understand. 

As far as I can tell, running has never taken anything from anyone. Not only do you get what you put into it, but running is kind enough to give back even more. For me, the return on my miles includes physical health, mental therapy, a free pass on carbs, new friends, better discipline and focus, a ton of t-shirts, and a sense of community.

But the explosions at the 117th Boston Marathon took something from running. For the moment it feels corrupted—a little heavier, a little scarier, and something else strange that I can't find words for. Something we all trusted in to make us feel better now makes us a bit sad and anxious. Undoubtedly, this event will only strengthen the resolve and resilience of runners and supporters alike. Of course I'll still turn to running to challenge myself, to clear my head, or to eat that extra cookie. I'll still lose my pace from laughing so hard at something funny a running partner said. But I'll never again be participating in a sport that's free of tragedy on such scale. 

Roger Robinson really said it well when he wrote:
"Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It's the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It's the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It's the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It's the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody."
In the face of this horrible bombing, goodwill was there. Runners, volunteers, spectators, police, medics and Bostonians immediately stepped up to provide whatever aid they were able. From a stranger with a cell phone to Google, people were being reconnected. An emergency plan for tens of thousands runners was enacted quickly and seemingly successfully. It makes me proud and thankful.

I'm eligible to run the NYC Marathon again this year, and (barring any injuries *knock wood!*) I plan on doing it. I feel sad that I can probably expect increased security measures that might take a small bit of joy out of the experience by making it more procedural and less celebratory. But I'm pretty confident in this moment that we can also expect the greatest outpouring of love this sport has ever seen at any marathon being run for the rest of this year. It's already begun.  

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