Last year I ran the Boston Marathon.
On Monday I cried watching the footage stream across my screen.
On Tuesday I had nightmares about bombs.
This morning someone I know said he’d do whatever it takes to run the Boston Marathon next year. It was the seventh or eighth person I’d heard express a similar sentiment. One friend went online the day of the explosions in search of bibs for sale for the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C., which had sold out weeks ago in less than 2.5 hours. Another person tracked down a last-minute qualifying race to run before Boston’s September registration. A third pledged to run his first ever 26.2.
My heart broke on Monday. But the spirit of our country, of these runners, of anyone who woke up Tuesday to lace up their running shoes, is helping it heal. I hope that spirit can eventually help heal those who are truly broken, physically and emotionally, after Monday’s horror.
Last year was my first Boston Marathon. I barely qualified. I was so elated to be there. Proud. I remember that home stretch. My family was there behind the metal barriers, cheering. I looked, but couldn’t see them in the crowd. That feeling during the last quarter mile, when the finish line is in sight… it’s indescribable. It is all of your accomplishments and confidence and elation and utter exhaustion rolled into one last superhuman push to the end. Love and support emanates from the fans on the sidelines. The crowd carries you across the line. It’s historic. And it’s special.
Now, I feel sick thinking about those moments. I hurt inside because I will always have that triumph and that perfect memory, and all of that was cruelly and senselessly stripped away from Monday’s spectators and athletes. That feeling will never exist in the same way again. That race will never be the same. At every finish line, runners will always think of those we lost at the 2013 Boston Marathon. We will always hurt for them. Our country will always hurt for them.
I wondered, at first, if we could ever have a Boston Marathon again. I wondered if people would stop running organized races to avoid this scenario. I wondered about the security at the next race I’m signed up for. I worried about terrorists. I got angry. I hate that this evil is making me wonder these things. But when I think of all the people who got up and went running the next day, and of the people who decided, on Monday night, that this was the year they were going to run a marathon, and of the runners who kept running past the finish line to the nearest hospital to give blood… my spirit comes back a little bit.
This morning I packed my gym bag even as I, again, hurt for the victims and felt sick because of this evil. But if I’m going to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year, I need to start now.