Friday, April 26, 2013

Onward

I guess I should say something about Boston.

It has been 11 days since the bombings and nearly a week since they caught "suspect number 2" hiding in a boat in a back yard in Watertown after a massive gun battle and siege of that city that we all watched glued to our tv's and computers. In that time, a lot of people more eloquent than I am have written a lot of words about the strength of our city, our region, our first responders and the running community. The families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Sean Collier have memorialized their loved ones and begun the healing process. The wounded have begun their long roads toward recovery. Boylston Street has reopened for business and we have begun to move on as we do.

Personally, I feel tremendously guilty for not having been there. It seems a strange thing to admit but there it is. Having not run Boston since 2009 I spent the day tracking friends online and watching the elite race while having conference calls and answering work email. I was still a safe 13 miles away from the finish line, on my way out the door to go downtown for a post-marathon celebration with running friends, when the bombs went off. The next hour or so was a haze of trying to communicate with people near the finish line--several of whom I had been in touch with just minutes before the blast and then suddenly could not reach at all, as the phone networks were at first overwhelmed and then shut down to prevent any further remote detonations. All the while, friends and family were contacting me to make sure I was safe.

I self identify as a runner. It is a huge part of who I am. And yet on the biggest day in our sport, when our greatest event suffered its greatest tragedy, and we collectively went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, I was a safe distance away, watching helplessly on television like millions of others as the drama unfolded on that street I know so well, by that finish line I know so well, and on that sidewalk I know so well. Guilt was not one of the emotions I was expecting, but there it was...and here it is.

The fact that so many of the victims were spectators who did nothing but show up to be a part of such a great day and support the runners is very difficult. Almost all of us who have run a marathon remember being inspired by watching a marathon first. Around here, the marathon we watched was Boston--it is difficult to be anywhere near the Boston Marathon and not be inspired and overwhelmed by the energy coming from that long line of people surging toward the Citgo sign and beyond and hearing the roars from the crowds all around. The idea that someone would  attack that is nearly impossible to imagine.

Like thousands of other runners--and non-runners for that matter--I immediately resolved to be at the starting line in Hopkinton on Patriots' Day in 2014. Interest in the Boston Marathon is now at an all-time high for the 2014 race. I had already been toying with the idea, and had just 2 days before Boston, signed up for the Vermont City Marathon next month to try and get a qualifier for next year's race. "Just in case I decide to run it," I told myself.

Now, there is no more "just in case"--there is only do or die. I am blessed to still have two strong legs, a strong heart and a big pair of lungs. And as long as I am able, I can never again deny those gifts by not running Boston.

Onward.