The Eye of the Runner: The Boston Marathon 2013
Today was business as usual. Up at 4:30am, made my daughter’s lunch, went to the gym, showered, answered work emails, headed to the grocery store and ran a couple errands.
Actually nothing about today felt usual. As if I left my heart in Boston yesterday like lost baggage. I didn’t bring all of me home.
This was our 8th trip to the Boston Marathon. My husband’s goal is to run 10 in a row and he’s well on his way. I didn’t run on Monday. Rather I slithered by hundreds of spectators to claim a spot of sidewalk just steps from the finish line.
Spectators at the Boston Marathon are different from every other running race. Those that line the 26.2 mile route are invested emotionally in the tradition and the mission. Whether they cheer as proud Bostonians, attend one of the local universities, or know someone running– they roar in support for hours. Every ethnicity, disability, gender, age, charity, and crazy outfit is cheered on by devoted fans.
Boston qualifiers and charity runners earned the privilege of celebrating this finish line. Endless miles of running, fundraising, and so many personal sacrifices. Plus all the loved ones and friends who supported their journeys that led to this day.
The moral of every marathon finish line is the same– Perseverance Pays Off. We need that validation whether we run or watch those that do.
Every year I’ve stood at the Boston Marathon finish line, as a runner or spectator, I’ve cherished being a part of this special tribe. Where pros run with amateurs. Where no disability makes you not able. Like one super size summer camp where the only requirement is your love of the sport.
So conditioned toward optimism and good will on this sunny Patriot’s Day, most of the crowd and runners who finished thought the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) had shot off cannons to celebrate the historic day. As I aided my fatigued husband back to our hotel near the finish line in Copley Square, we learned the “cannons” were bombs.
The explosions were near a row of international flags not far from where I was just minutes prior, cheering and invested fully in my husband’s anticipated arrival. Thankfully everyone we knew by name was unharmed.
Yet all runners and those who support them take this assault personally. Because the villain(s) who did this hurt, maimed and killed people whom we worship within our tribe. Those who support us so selflessly. Our families and friends who stand out in the cold for hours so they can hold up a hand made sign that says, “Go Mom” or “That Shirt Makes Your Ass Look Fast!” And the stranger that calls out your bib number and says, “Number 1391, you’re almost there! Stay strong!”
God bless every last one of you who stood alongside me on the streets of Boston.
These heartless, despicable animals couldn’t have targeted a more cohesive group. A tribe that knows how to congregate armies, raise money, and push waaaaay past their comfort zone. These are the elite special forces of the running community and their network extends around the globe.
We don’t give up, give in, or retreat from pain. And God knows we have endurance. Especially when backed by a city tougher than the nails encased in those explosives.
No, today was not normal. Selecting the perfect avocado at the grocery seemed so ridiculous. I felt as though I was newly diagnosed with some disease, wondering how all these people could just walk on by me so unknowingly. Can’t you see my heart is missing?!
I swore 10 marathons was enough for me. But now I’ve been tested, tempted by this atrocity.
DARE THEY tell me I can’t, that WE must retreat and be afraid. Challenge is faced head on by this close knit running community. Embraced by this city. And supported by this country united when it really counts.
I feel that ‘eye of the tiger’ rising to our surface. Tears and fears replaced by bull breaths and hoof pumps.
The Eye of the Runner
Risin’ up, back on the street
just a minute to get back on our feet
Risin’ up, to make things right
guts and passion to win this fight
Risin’ up, straight to the top
we’re never gonna stop
To all the victims, their families and the city of Boston– we may have dispersed around the world but our hearts, thoughts and prayers remain with you.
To the thousands of runners not able to reach that well deserved finish line, we know you won’t stop until you do. We applaud your effort and determination.
If law enforcement and investigators follow our example, they won’t stop until justice is served. And nor shall we.
*Alert: There are many charity scams already reported on the web. If you wish to donate to the relief effort, check out onefundboston.org, set up by the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston.