Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts on Boston

I gave a lot of thought as to whether it was appropriate to express my reaction to Monday's events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  So much has already been written without having answers to the questions that we all have, and I expect that in the coming days, months and years we will continue to ask questions even as we learn more.  I feel it is wrong to speculate, and I also feel that words cannot even begin to express my sympathy to those impacted by what has happened.  However, it just feels inauthentic to write about anything else, feign happiness or ignore what for the last two days has weighed heavily on my mind.

The horrible details we do know (from various news sources) are absolutely heartwrenching.  As the story unfolds, I am in equal parts saddened, confused and shocked.  To call what happened a tragedy, particularly where small children are amongst the victims, is an incredible understatement.  I respect and understand that violence occurs all over the world, all the time, and for many meaningless reasons.  In no way do I suggest that we interpret what happened irrationally or imply that an exaggerated reaction is appropriate, nor is this intended to be political rhetoric.  All I am saying is that what happened in Boston, quite simply, makes my heart feel extremely heavy.    

What unfolded Monday evoked a profound emotional impact reaction in me.  On Monday night, I woke three times in a sweat from a repetitive nightmare where I was unable to find my father at that finish line, where he stood only 5 years ago.  I am fortunate to be able to have crossed that iconic finish line four times, and each one of those years had friends and family supporting me and/or racing with me.  The thought that the devastation unleashed on Monday could have as easily been directed at my friends and family absolutely destroys me.  No one should die or suffer violence while spectating at a race.

Anyone who has experienced Boston on race day, as a runner or a spectator (and, for that matter, any race, anywhere) understands the energy and the magic that happens there.  Marathons are the culmination of dreams, sweat and effort beyond comparison - a testament to the human spirit, and to me, everything that is right about life.  The sport encompasses people of all origins, all nationalities, all orientations...such that I am hard pressed to imagine what could have possibly motivated such an attack.

There were people who could not understand why yesterday I wore my Boston finisher's t-shirt to work, or why I shed tears on Monday afternoon.  I get that.  Those are, however, the same people that will never understand why I lace up to run in the rain, log solitary mile after mile, endure through injuries and sacrifice to reach my athletic goals.  Yet, I am not dissuaded.  In the aftermath of what has happened, runners and the endurance community have banded together.  After all, we are endurance athletes.  We pick ourselves up and persevere against the odds, and we know how to continue moving forward even when it gets tough to do so.

Will I live in fear?  Will I stop racing?  No.  I'll keep doing so for the same reasons I always have...because it helps me make sense of a world that is at times senseless.

My first Boston finish.  

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