I know a good many running bloggers have posted their thoughts on the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon and I’ve frankly felt like a slacker for not getting on it myself. But the words weren’t coming and, really, I wasn’t sure I had any business making a statement at all. I’m not a Bostonian. I don’t personally know anyone who ran or was as spectator at the race. I’m under no illusions that I’ll ever be a Boston Qualifier in this lifetime. I find sadness in any loss of life, but I didn’t think this particular event had much to do with my own life. Over the twelve or so hours following the explosions, I took in the facts and information, I thought of the victims, but I did so as an unassociated observer. And then a co-worker asked me Tuesday morning, “How do you feel about what happened in Boston? I know you race – do you feel like this changes things for you?”
It hit me like a Mack truck. The tears started and I answered, “Yes. I think it does.” Because, it turns out, what happened in Boston is personal.
I’ve crossed nine finish lines since beginning my distance running journey, all with only the thought of finishing strong on my mind. I’ll never cross another finish line without a tickle of “what if there’s a bomb, not a PR, waiting at the end?” I’ll never again see the finish ahead and not spare a mental moment of remembrance for those who became victims of a heinous act simply because they chose to cheer for us, the folks who love to run. That’s personal.
My family and friends have been on the sidelines and finish areas of numerous races, cheering for me and every other runner out there. Seeing them has brought me joy, courage and determination to pick up my pace and push hard toward my goal. I’ll never again run a race without concern for their safety. That’s personal.
My ten-year-old son, Leo, has always worried for me when I race. He worries that I might be injured. He worries that I might get lost. He worries that I might tire early and not finish. And now he worries that some stranger may intentionally harm me. That’s personal.
For me, the most cruelly, ironically poignant fact of the Boston Marathon bombings is this: people lost to the explosions the very limbs I use to participate in a sport I love – the sport for which those victims took time out of their lives to cheer. Some may never walk again, let alone run. Since first learning of their fates, I have not taken a step, pressed on the gas pedal of my car, rubbed an aching shin, placed my foot into a shoe without thinking of them. That’s personal.
So, to answer my co-worker’s question more clearly, yes, things have changed for me. I am more determined than ever to meet and set running goals. I will race the events for which I’m already registered and I plan to register for more events in the future. I will shower with appreciation those who cheer for me on-course and will be understanding of those who choose not to. I will think of Boston’s victims at every finish line I approach and push to the strongest finish I can. I’ll talk with Leo and do what I can to assuage his fears while imparting what knowledge I can to help him be safe. I’ll keep running; I’ll run for those who cannot.
Because Boston? It’s very much personal.