I have never run a marathon, but I am a runner. I’ve met so many amazing people since beginning my running journey. We all run for different reasons. I started running because my life fell apart and somehow running seemed like a way I could heal from it all. I’ve met many people who run for similar reasons, but not everyone. Some people have always been runners. Some came to it later in life. Some run to win and some just run to finish. Some run fleet and gracefully effortless and some, like me, huff and puff and grunt and sweat, looking more like laboring wildebeests than athletes, but we run. I’ve asked one thing of as many runners as I’ve met, and while details change, almost every one says that one reason they run is because it makes them better, more than they would be without running. To this day, I can say with Will Rogers, I’ve never met a runner I didn’t like.
There are some things that should never happen. I’m making slow peace with the unpredictability of life, sickness and death, but there are still events that seem an abomination. I’ve never run a marathon, but as I sat here trying to make sense of the events of the day, in my head it seemed that atmospherically it would be very much like one of the large Race for the Cure races in which I have participated. There is an electricity, an overwhelming air of joyous celebration at these events. Everyone smiles at each other and there’s a sense of everyone being in this together, that we could take on the world and come out on top, of being unstoppable. I’ve never run a marathon, but I’ve run and walked as a survivor at these events. There aren’t words for the emotions of having worked so hard and come so far. You think back over the days, weeks and months of how hard it has been and how you just can’t believe you’re there, in that place, with all those people cheering you, looking up to you, there to celebrate you. I’ve never run a marathon, but I don’t have to reach very far to in my mind to be in that place, in that place where everything you’ve done for longer than you ever thought you could are culminating. When even if all the bad days, and times your body pleaded for mercy, and moments you just couldn’t go one more step were piled atop the other, it wouldn’t amount to the height and depth of this day.
I’ve never run a marathon, but I’ve been in that place.
I tried to imagine how it would feel to suddenly have the world explode.
I can’t. I can’t do it. My mind, which is as imaginative a mind as there can be, refuses to go there.
I’ve never run a marathon, and I wasn’t in Boston. But some of those wonderful crazy-beautiful people I have run with since beginning this new thing, this new thing of being more me than I knew I could be. They were there. They were there with their loved ones waiting at the finish line. They were part of the mad joy-go-round that happens when many people who have done something too huge to fathom come together to celebrate. I wasn’t there, physically. But my heart, my soul my spirit, they were in Boston. They were cheering, and laughing and hugging strangers and straining to see the number we love running towards us. All day long they were there, and when the news started coming in, they froze. Because some things should never be. Some things should only be joy and laughter and the triumph of good. Some things are sacred. Not only are some things sacred but people I love are there…right there at the high point of a life time. There is no part of my mind that allowed me to put fear and pain and hatred in the imaginings of this day. Until today.
And now, no matter where I go, or what I run in the future, there is a shadow. A shadow where there was once only pure joy and light. A shadow of fear, of ugliness, of the death of something so inspiring that people talk about it all year long in anticipation of it coming again.
I’ve never run a marathon, but I am a runner. And my heart bleeds for Boston today, for things that should never be, and for the loss of something good.