|The "Look! Look! Hey guys, |
are you looking yet??" of our time
The hash tag. We see it all the time; for movies, for events, for anything someone wants to call attention to. #Sometimes #even #like #this #so #nothing #is #relevant #to #it. (I would really appreciate it if someone would take the internet away from those people.)
In the past couple of days we've seen a lot of #boston in the wake of a terrible tragedy committed by a coward. (As I write this the police have just made their first arrest within the hour, we still wait to see exactly how far this goes.) I've seen "pray for #boston, run for #boston, I'm even guilty of tagging a pic of my own the next day wearing a race shirt to show my support for the victims and runners with #medoc for #boston. People are using the #boston to show how they feel. Most, not for the attention, but for the simple fact that for better or for worse as a society in the internet age, this is how we've come to express ourselves.
Today I'm choosing another medium to express myself, although it still exists in the digital sphere. Fair warning, this probably won't be the sophisticated, high class humor you've never come to expect from this blog.
Since early Tuesday morning I've kicked around the idea of what to write, how personal to get, and how to deal with exactly what I'm feeling. I've decided to speak, or type as it were, exactly how I feel at the moment. If it isn't what you're looking for, or if it's just that you've had enough of hearing about a terrible act, that's fine. I won't even hold it against you. I will say, however, that you'll be missing out. Like going to Disney world and not experiencing space mountain.
|Pretty much this same thing as reading this blog|
A few months ago I purchased 4 pairs of my favorite running shoes when I learned that they were going to stop making the version I loved to run in. Reasoning that buying / owning more running shoes seemed to be the key to becoming a more successful and faster runner, I mentioned it on Facebook with additional question of: "Do I get to be called a runner now??" A received an almost instantaneous response to my post: Nope, just a consumer.
The reason I tell all of you this is despite how much I've run, where I've run or what distance I've taken to, there are many times when I have wondered to myself; Am I really a runner? Without realizing it at the time I had the question forceable answered for me on Monday, April 15th, 2013. The day a bomb went off at the finish line of the running of the 117th Boston marathon. To say that this tragedy belongs more to a runner than other is completely wrong. To say we feel differently about it, maybe not so much. Boston belongs as much to everyone as 9-11 did everyone in the country. But New Yorkers might feel a bit different than most.
My initial thoughts were that the two explosions that happened MUST have been an accident. (I learned of it approximately five minutes after it had happened.) After all, who in their right mind would bomb the finish line of a race??? There are no political affiliations, the race is an international event, but there are much more high profile ones if someone was going to lash out. I simply couldn't comprehend that this could be some kind of attack. My next immediate thoughts were to begin texting friends to ask if they had heard from the many we knew running. I breathed easier after a while knowing that they were safe, and that the friends of friends so far, were all accounted for.
The next bit of time is blurry in my memory, much like that day so long ago in September. I do remember the confirmation of it being bombs, or "devices" as the news seemed to be referring to them. And then, like many others I suspect, seething anger. Any act of terrorism is one of cowardice and a horrific event for anyone involved in anyway. But, this past Monday, selfishly, I felt that someone had struck out at my people. At people who worked as hard as their bodies would let them, sometimes failing them, but never giving up. Always pushing for one goal: Boston. Not that any act of terrorism or loss of life is worth more or less than another, but somehow this one just hit home more.
|The ever amazing Shalane Flanagan|
In the running world to BQ, is to qualify for the Boston marathon. I will openly admit that in the past I had called it pretentious, spouting that even if I ever did BQ, I'm not sure I'd run it. All the while hearing a very small voice in the back of my head telling me that I knew I would run it if I could ever earn one of those coveted spots, and that I was just jealous of those who did. As late as Sunday night I was reading articles on Shalane Flanagan's switch to marathon training, and watching her pre Boston interview in which she said: “You know what would be so cool? You know what would be such a badass move? If I were to win the Boston Marathon and retire the next day.” It's no secret that I'm a fan of hers not just for her talent, but for her attitude of taking the sport and everything that comes with it head on. I was psyched for the chance at having one of the people I personally cheer for and an American have a chance at winning the Boston marathon.
That same night, on the flip side of the coin I read an excellent article in this Month's Runner's World called "Life of a BQ squeaker." It's a great article and if you get a chance, check it out here: Life of a BQ squeaker. The article is all about those who are just making it into Boston, those who might never be elite, but have managed to squeak through and make it to the show. Perhaps it was this well written article that I had read the night before that made the timing of the bombs dawn on me.
For those not in the know, the bombs went off well after the elites many of the fastest runners had already passed the finish line. They were set off when the maximum number of runners would be coming through. Once again I felt my anger rising to new levels. The bomb was target at the squeakers. The ones who were experiencing the high of making it to Boston for the first time, the last time, for some maybe the only time. The ones who would always have a chance to say what less than 10% of the running population could ever say: I ran the Boston marathon. Since writing that last sentence I've stared at a blinking cursor for five minutes trying to find how to put into words how I feel about that particular fact. I don't think I can. It's not that their time, their experience or even their lives are of any more value than anyone else's. Somehow it just seems more...wrong.
But the darkness can only exist because of the light. And it shown strong that day. As news reports covered the blasts that took three lives that day, others told of runners who crossed the line and ran two more miles to the closest hospital in order donate blood. There were other still who ran back to help victims. The best story I heard that day will actually be featured on the cover of sports illustrated:
|You screwed with the people who run 26 miles through blood and blisters for fun??|
This man is 78 years old and was only about five feet from the bomb when it went off. What did he do after getting up? He walked over to the finish line and finished the race stating: "After you've run 26 miles, you're not going to stop there"
Still many more of us, myself included, have pledged that we WILL be running Boston. While I'm sure that I, like so many others planned to eventually qualify for Boston, it has now become many of our top priority. We want to show up to prove that we are tough, strong and resilient community and won't be scared off. After all, isn't that what the marathon is all about?
While I have no doubt that the stories of hope and strength like this one: One fund Boston will continue to emerge, I hope that next year's Boston marathon will be even bigger and brighter than this one so that the point hits home that we as Americans, runners, and good people the world over will continue stand united and never back down in the wake of great tragedy.