15 April 2013

There are no words

If you've read my story about how I became a runner, you know that there was a time I would have never considered running a marathon - let alone putting the Boston Marathon on my bucket list.  Over the last year, it has been at the back of my mind as something that could be a part of my running future. It started when my coworker Megan came in to Big Peach with her Boston shirt on last year.  And a thought crept into my head, "I could do that." It would take a lot of training and dedication - and at the time I hadn't run over 13.1 miles - but I could do it.

Fast forward to this morning.  My twitter feed these days is mostly running-related people or businesses.  I had a link to watch the live feed, and as soon as I got to my desk - even though it was after the elite start, I put my headphones in and put it on.  I listened as the elite women battled out over the last 10 miles - in less than an hour BTW! - and watched Jeptoo cruise to her second Boston win.  I was overwhelmed hearing of her 2006 win and then taking time off for "maternity leave" before coming back to win this year.  In her interview she talked about considering running for a win last year and knowing she wasn't ready.  She was so excited to have won the day!  And the USA's own Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher crossing the line and their concern for each other showed the spirit of the running community.  I watched the men finish and the battle between the top three men to cross the line.  I was energized watching these elite runners effortlessly cruise at a "slow" pace of 5:00-6:00 mm through the course and finish looking like they could run another 10 miles!  I got choked up at the finish for their accomplishment.  And then I made myself turn it off because I knew I needed to focus on work.

At 3:00pm I was on a conference call.  My caller ID beeped in and it was my BRF Jason.  I ignored his call, but sent him a quick text about being on the call.  What he said in his reply baffled me: Boston marathon bomb.  At first I thought it was using the term figuratively - like a "twitterbomb" or "photobomb".  But then he sent me a screen shot of the front page of CNN.  And a colleague I was on the phone with sent me a text - "WTF?! News is coming in of bombs going off at the Boston marathon finish line." I immediately lost interest in my conference call and started scanning Facebook and twitter and checking CNN.  I had friends in Boston - one of our own #CorralG members was close to the finish watching the race.  I had twitter friends that I had never met, but was cheering for, including someone from Richmond, that we running Boston.  I knew the sacrifices they had made for their training and the excitement they had to conquer the day.  My heart broke.  I finished my call and began sobbing in my car.  To hear stories of lives lost, runners and spectators who had lost limbs, and people who had trained so hard to finish this storied race, only to be stopped at 21 miles because of terrorism.  Yes, I'm using that word.  This was an attack on our community.  I am not a Boston athlete this year, and might never actually BQ, but these are my people.  I've spent the last almost 6 hours watching the news, reading my twitter feed and Facebook, trying to make sense of what happened.  There is no sense in this.  The story has been release that one of the people who died today was an 8-year-old child.  Unacceptable.  I cannot even imagine what people are experiencing in the wake of this tragedy!

Now that I live in Richmond, my family is far away.  I was grateful to hear from my brother today.  He checked in with a text: you're not running the Boston marathon right?  I love that he's not quite in tune with the running community to think I could have been there without him knowing - trust me, if and when I do BQ, EVERYONE will know!  But I also love that he knew enough to check in with me, because I am a runner.  And when I told him I wasn't there, his response made me feel his love from across the miles: thank God!  I love my family - even the ones who didn't text or call today.  But today I want to express my love for my running family.  Those of you I know and have run with.  But especially those of you that I don't actually know.  The great thing about this thing called twitter is that I feel like I'm part of an enormous running community full of people of all ages, abilities, speeds, and achievements and that we are family.  I spent an hour today with a knot in my stomach not knowing anything about a runner I follow on twitter who is also from Richmond who was running today - I felt such a sense of relief to hear she was ok.  And though I've never met her, even though we live in the same city, I felt so connected to her in this crisis.

It appears that those that I "know" are safe.  But we know from the news that there are those that are not safe.  Those that experienced tragedy we will hopefully never know personally.  My heart breaks for those that lost loved ones, for those who experienced their final race at Boston because of injury, and for the friends and family of those that were effected.  This community is strong and resilient - that's what makes us runners to begin with.  We will always be runners.  Tomorrow I will wear my favorite running shirt to remember - but the next day I will run.  And I will keep running - for Boston.

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