Monday, April 15, 2013


I am a runner.  S is a runner.  Between the two of us, we have completed 7 marathons and 18 half-marathons.  I say this because all totaled, there are at least 25 instances where S and I have stood at a finish line, sometimes with E, waiting for each other to complete a race.  Where we worried about things like, will her leg cramp up or will he run a new PR?  Will he want water when he crosses the finish, or would he prefer Gatorade?  Or beer?  Will she be sore?

Where we stood waving homemade signs of encouragement and support not only for each other, but for all the runners who were racing to the finish.  Where we shouted and clapped and cheered for everyone who had just completed what felt like a super-human feat of running 26.2 miles.
Where not once did we think we were risking our lives in fear of a bomb. 
For anyone who has ever run a marathon or even stood on the sideline in support, you know what it feels like.  The adrenaline is palpable and the energy electric.  The volume of support during a marathon is unrivaled.  In fact,  Katherine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston marathon in 1967 once said, "if you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."  Truer words were never spoken. Because it is at a marathon where the best of humanity comes out.  Where people stand for hours cheering, handing out water or candy or orange slices in an effort to not only boost a runner's energy, but their self-esteem.  To give them the mental and emotional lift needed to get over the wall and finish the race. 
I have never run Boston.  I am not that fast and would never qualify.  But S and I have both run the NYC marathon and just like Boston, I'm sure, the crowds who gather in support of the runners are amazing.  Whenever anyone asks me what it's like to run a marathon, I always say it's great because of the spectators.  You would be hard pressed to find a runner anywhere who doesn't smile at poster board signs that read, "You made it to the start, you WILL make it to the finish," or "Run like you stole something."  The old woman banging a cooking pot in her bathrobe and yelling, "y'all better run!" had me giggling for the last three miles out of Brooklyn.  And in fact, I am 100% certain that the gentleman handing out tootsie rolls on Fifth Avenue at mile 24 was the reason I finished in my personal best time.  I timidly took one, but  he  pushed the whole bowl at me saying, "take more.  Take as many as you need.  You can do this."  And that's all it took.  I shoved five more tootsie rolls into my mouth, and the candy's sugar combined with that stranger's words of support propelled me through Central Park and past the finish line.
What happened yesterday in Boston broke my heart.  To know that mothers, fathers, husbands and wives, and 8-year old boys were out there on a beautiful spring day supporting their loved ones, only to lose their lives or be severely injured because of it, just makes my stomach turn.  And to think that some of the injured were runners who had already completed the race, who had doubled back so they could watch their friends finish as they had probably done many times before, is truly gut-wrenching.  Limbs were lost in the explosions.  Those people may never run again. 
The finish line at a marathon is supposed to be one of celebration and joy.  It is a time to be proud.  But yesterday, that was stripped from innocent men, women and children, and the running community as a whole.  My heart goes out to those runners and their families. I hope the injured can heal and the running community can recover from such a tragic event. And I hope we can all work hard to erase the fear  by returning the finish line to a place of excitement and good cheer once again. 
My next run is for Boston.

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