You might think, from my silence, that things have been unchanged since I last wrote. You might think that life has gone on much as it ever did. You might think. You would be wrong. On April 15, 2013, I showered, took my coffee black, went about my morning. The sun rose higher in the sky. People gathered along Beacon Street right outside my home, just a little bit beyond what is known as Heartbreak Hill. The live broadcast of the 117th Boston Marathon was on, keeping me up to date, and when it was time, I went outside and watched a group of somewhat crazy, completely inspirational people—the elite runners—run past, just four miles from the end of their journey. I took some photos, cheered them on. Unlike the obscenely hot 2012 race, the weather for this one was perfect—the ideal day for twenty-six point two.
Later, from inside my home, I could hear the crowd cheering on the ever-growing number of runners, the elites long since having crossed the finish line. It’s these runners that I like to watch best, the ones who need the cheers, the ones with no hope of placing, but with a chance of getting a personal best—and especially those for whom “personal best” would translate, simply, to “finishing.” I wanted to be outside cheering them on, too, but my office is open on Marathon Monday, Patriot’s Day, and even though I telecommute, work called. The day marched on. I turned off the live broadcast, not wanting, but needing, to be rid of the distraction. And then my husband sent me a text; a simple message inquiring over my whereabouts and safety was the first hint I had that something had gone horribly wrong. I opened up a web browser, stared at the headlines in disbelief, turned on the news. What I remember feeling more than anything was the desire to be there at the finish line. I’d thought about it that morning, in a casual way—there’s nothing like being in the thick of it—but had decided against it. And as the images of tragedy replayed over and over again on the television, the need to be there, and the impossibility of it, was all-consuming. There was nothing to do but watch and wait, to let loved ones know that we were safe, and to inquire after the safety of others we know and love.
On April 16, 2013, I went shopping in the iTunes app store. I laced up my sneakers. I went outside, and to a backdrop of zombies and tales of Runner 5, I ran. Still in shock, I did not know how else to cope with the events of the previous day; I just needed to be, to do. And since then, there have not been two days in a row in which I did not run. I was out there the day that the troubled souls who brought such destruction upon a day celebrating the triumph of the human body, mind, and spirit were terrorizing residential Watertown, lobbing makeshift grenades at members of our brave local law enforcement. For me, running began as a way of coping with the unthinkable, a way of showing support and solidarity. I would be out there every day if I could, but I know that rest days are important, and I can’t afford to to get injured—because on April 21st I signed up for the five-miler in Boston’s Run to Remember, a race that has already sold out, no doubt as a result of the same events that inspired me to run. It will be a special year for the race, which honors fallen law enforcement officers, and I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of it.
And so I’m out there almost every day. Yesterday, during my 3.7 mile workout, I managed somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes of jogging without a walking break, which is probably about as much as I’ve ever done in my life. I was never a runner; in junior high, my parents forced me to do track and field, and I hated it. I tried to do the Couch to 5K program two years ago, and gave up. But if I can make it to running 5K before the Run to Remember, I think I’ll be in excellent shape for race day. And if I really push myself, maybe, just maybe, I can get into shape to run the BAA’s half marathon in October. I’ll have four months to train; it’s within the realm of possibility. This time, I don’t hate it. This time, it’s a hunger, a need. On April 15, 2013, a pair of misguided young men, for reasons yet unknown, set off two bombs at the finish line of one of the world’s great sporting events. They took three lives and many more limbs, but I believe that Boston is not weaker, but rather stronger, for it. Runners, and especially those amazing people that can call themselves marathoners, are not the sort to be beaten down easily. Neither are Bostonians. And in my own slow, ambling way, I’m so very proud to be a part of that strength.