The Spirit of the Marathon

It was a brilliant day in Buffalo. The temperature had reached 70 degrees. There was sunshine. There was a bit of wind, but otherwise a perfect day for an easy run. After my race on Sunday, my workout was designated as light. Emphasis on light. So I went out easy and breezy for a 2.5-mile early afternoon run. Back home I stretched, grabbed some water, downloaded my run and texted my coach. I sat down on my couch to chill for a few minutes before getting back to the business of the day when I checked Twitter on my smartphone.

What?

There was an immediate sinking feeling in my stomach. A bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. What? Wait. What? I tore to my laptop and started searching for news. I was in an emotional frenzy. I texted nearly every running friend I have, both to make sure they were safe, their friends were safe and to connect with anyone who might understand what I was feeling.

Because I sure didn’t understand what I was feeling.

I sat at my kitchen table, texting and trolling through social media. I sat at my kitchen tabled and cried. I sat at my kitchen table and felt stupid for crying.

Slowly over the course of an hour, I had confirmation that my friends who were running Boston were safe. My friends who were there as support team members were safe. Some part of my brain told me that should have been the end of my emotional involvement. But it wasn’t. My world was rocked. And my mind was racing.

Two years ago, I had been on the course, near that very spot, cheering on friends in their first Boston Marathon, inspired by everything that was going on around me. It is a holy day in the endurance sports calendar. It doesn’t matter if you never have a qualifying time. It doesn’t matter if you never run a marathon, period. The Boston Marathon is a holy day for all runners. It is a celebration of spirit and strength. It is an unseen mix of individual effort and teamwork. It is about passion and joy. It is about adding life to your years.

It’s about finding something within yourself you never knew was there and attaining that which you never dreamed was possible. Not for you.

It’s about those friendships you form while running. Sometimes they last for years. Sometimes just for the few miles you share together. There are no strangers. Not in an endurance event. And there is great power in knowing that your pain is shared by the guy running next to you.

The investigation will sort out the who, the what, the why and the how. But on April 15, 2013, I sat at my kitchen table, devastated, confused and scared. Because I am a runner. And somebody just attacked my friends.

As I moved through the evening and took a needed break from social media, my emotional breakdown started to abate. I found myself cracking inappropriate jokes in my head, a sure sign that I was getting back to my center. Describing these emotions is a bit like trying to grab a fist full of sand. But of this I am certain: I will find my own sense of peace during some lonely mile of some long run. Because that is how I enter the world. And that is how I continue to make sense of my world. Regardless of the darkness on the fringes and the tears shed at my kitchen table.

Cheering on Marathon Monday for Team Unicorn in 2011.

Cheering on Marathon Monday for Team Unicorn in 2011.

One Comment on “The Spirit of the Marathon

  1. You have captured what so many are feeling.

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