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On The Boston Marathon and Being A Runner

Posted Apr 17 2013 9:23am

How can I post this week without mentioning what happened at the Boston Marathon? If this happened five years ago, I would have been sad and scared of course — but I would not have been quite as deeply affected. Five years ago I wasn’t a runner. Five years ago I didn’t understand what a marathon even was. I used to live along the NYC Marathon route in Manhattan and I remember seeing the wheelchair racers go by and knowing it was a marathon but not getting what was happening. Not caring.

Five years ago I might not have been quite as glued to my two screens at work at 3pm on Monday, one playing a live news stream and the other playing a recorded video of when things went down. I might not have truly “gotten” that OF COURSE there are tons of spectators and tons of runners and that the Boston Marathon is a holiday in and of itself. I wouldn’t have gotten that OF COURSE this race would present an opportunity to cause mass harm and hysteria. OF COURSE. It is BOSTON – the race that’s run on its own holiday on Patriots Day, the race that many runners work tirelessly for years and years to qualify for, the marathon of ALL marathons. Of course.

Five years ago I might not have connected my own mortality or that of those I love with what happened in Boston. Five years ago I would have been sad for other “types of people,” sad for the types of people who ran marathons or spectated marathons, the types people I had no connection to and nothing in common with.

A lot can change in five years.

Not to make this about myself because it is not, but now all I think about is how I am a runner striving to finish a marathon in around 4:10 – just like those finishing when it happened. I am a runner whose fiance, whose best friends, whose mother have stood at finish lines cheering for me. I am a runner who loves standing at finish lines to cheer for others.

So now, five years after never even thinking about putting on a pair of running shoes, much less ever heard the words ShotBloks or Dri-Fit, what happened in Boston feels personal. And based on what I read on Twitter, Facebook and blogs from my friends in the running community, we ALL feel this way. It could have been any of us; it could have been any of our loved ones.

I meant for this to be a short intro into a regular blog post but that obviously isn’t happening. Instead, this is a blog post about being in a community, being the “type of person” who runs marathons and watches marathons and cares about marathons and gets the significance of the Boston Marathon. This is a blog post about how the running community was the vehicle. The Boston Marathon would ensure many people would be in this one significant spot at this one significant time. The casualty was the running community but it was not the target.

And now, as someone deeply embedded in the running community, I get it. I get how we could be a vehicle.

Five years ago, I would have been sad for other people. But five years later, I am sad for my own people.

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