As soon as I woke up on Monday morning, I started up my lap top, placed it on the stove in my kitchen, and began making my kids their school lunches while I watched the Boston Marathon. The elites were about an hour and a half in and on their way to victory, I was cheering on Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan and explaining to my children the importance of Boston and how much the event means to all running kind.
Just hours later, friends began texting me about the explosions at the finish line and I just couldn’t believe it… came home, turned on the TV and there it was, the horrifying images of this unbelievable tragedy… my heart broke and the tears came.
I haven’t really been able to find the words to describe how I feel- as a runner, marathoner, spectator, and American. But today, I will try my best…Shock. Anger. Fear. Devastation. Confusion. Frustration. Disbelief. Worry. Sadness.
Runners are a part of a global team of sorts and even if we have never met, we root for each other and cheer each other on no matter if elite, novice, fast or slow. We would not be able to train the way we do and enjoy racing as much if it wasn’t for each other. We protect and support each other and all cross the same finish line.
Again, it is incredibly hard for me to write this and attempt to explain how I feel. Because of this universal camaraderie we have as runners, this hits so very close to home, it’s just all too relate-able. I keep thinking of my friends and family that have waited for me at finish lines, as well as all the finish lines I have crossed… that unfathomable feeling of 26.2 triumph turned horror… this just makes no sense and I keep asking WHY???? but the answers don’t come…
I am so damn angry. I want those answers. I want the bastards that did this found and punished. I am furious that this has put fear in our hearts and I never, ever thought that my sport would be targeted and attacked. Running means strength, running means joy, running means freedom- and all of that was viciously stolen from us on Monday.
When I think of the victims, my heart shatters and I can’t hold back the tears… mostly spectators and race volunteers, these are the people that help enable us runners to find the joy in what we do. How many races have you done where you were motivated by your friends, family, teammates, a race volunteer and/or non-running spectator selflessly cheering YOU on? For me, countless. I recall so many races where I knew my husband and two small children would be there at the end, yelling my name… or even just a simple high-five and smile from a spectator kept me so very motivated to keep on running… it’s support beyond words… and now they suffer too… it’s just NOT FAIR. (I know fairness really means nothing in this case, but, again, it’s really hard to find the words to define this severe injustice.)
As a result of all the horrifying violence in the past years, I have feared living in my own city, flying on an airplane, going to the movies, sending my kids to school, and now, racing. I don’t think that any of those other events shook me to the core as much as this. I constantly consider that fine line between control and chaos and growing up in Oakland, have always understood that I’m never 100% safe, never 100% free from potential chaos, and 100% unable to control it.
I’ve always felt safe at races. Always. Even at the largest ones- up 35,000 runners and triple that number in spectators and race staff- I have always felt solace. It never, ever, ever occurred to me that THAT would be a potentially dangerous environment. And unfortunately, now I do. Sadly, I think we all do.
But then I see how much our running community has banded together to help the victims and their families- the first responders, the volunteers, the runners who instead of crossing the finish line of the most iconic road race in America, ran right into the smoke to help or the runners that did cross the finish safely and then ran 2 additional miles to the nearest hospital to donate blood- and am reminded of the strength we have, the hope we can give, the fear we can abate, the messages of prayer and love that we- as a running community- are able to send.
I am running the inaugural Nike Women’s (half) Marathon in Washington DC in a little over a week and was saddened to see on their Facebook page just how many people are backing out of the race, canceling their flights and hotel rooms as a result of what happened at Boston. I am also running the first half of the San Francisco Marathon in June and as another very large, historic race, have read of people backing out of that race as well.
While I do feel anxiety about these upcoming races, I’m not backing out of either because if I did, then they win. We cannot let fear keep us away from doing the thing we love to do. We need to get out there, in droves, and run in honor of Boston in order to show the world that we cannot be stopped. WE ARE RUNNERS and WE WILL continue to support each other and live life to the fullest. If we back out of our races, then the perpetrators of this heinous attack will have accomplished exactly what they wanted and we CANNOT let that happen.
Fellow runners, I implore you, do not allow them to divide and conquer us- we have to run for Boston and show our fearlessness and dedication to our country as well as our sport. Just getting out there and running may not seem like a way to help, but it is. Wear blue and yellow, keep Boston in your heart, hug your running buddies just a little tighter, and let’s show the world that we will not be stopped.
Our running community immediately created events and fundraisers to help the victims and their families and, personally, I am trying to participate in every single one as I really want to help. Here are a few ways that you can also help show your dedication, love and support:
1) Donate to the OneFund: http://onefundboston.org/
3) Join the Run 26.2 For Boston Facebook group and dedicate your miles to the cause: https://www.facebook.com/events/484995498233792/
4) Click on the above bib, print it out and participate in this virtual run on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/events/328991053871121/
5) Purchase a Boston Marathon Benefit tee
from Moms RUN This Town, proceeds donated to the victims and their families: http://www.recoverbrands.com/store/category/boston-marathon-benefit-tee These shirts are currently sold out but a new vendor will be announced soon! Visit here for more details: http://momsrunthistown.com/blog/fundraiser-for-boston/
If you know of any others, I’m sure there are plenty, please feel free post the links to the events/fundraisers in the comments section below.
How about you, how are you coping in light on Monday’s horrific events? How are you showing your running pride and support of Boston? What do you think this means for the future of road racing?
- In the wake of Boston… we will run. (runningfromforty.com)
- Boston Marathon – A Letter From Runners Everywhere (tanyasylvan.com)
- Boston. (trexrunner.com)