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The Hardest Thing I have Ever Done

It is quiet.  The air is still. I hear a soft pounding in my chest and my feet on the asphalt.  My heart reminds me of the task at hand: kee...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston on my Mind

I am finding it difficult to put into words what I am experiencing about the tragedy from yesterday.  I was wrapping up a project at home when I received a text from a friend asking if I was okay, if I was in Boston.  I was listening to the hype from the Boston Marathon earlier in the morning.  I have never really had a lot of runner's envy for those who "get to go," knowing what it takes to qualify to be there.  Still, I do pay attention as I have several friends who run in such places and I love to live vicariously.  So as I was responding to the text to let my friend know that I was not in Boston, I thought I'd better turn on the news.  I flipped on the TV and --

Stunned.  I kept the remote pointed at the screen, my cell phone dangling from my other hand.  I remained standing for the length of the broadcast.  I'm not sure I breathed.

Images of falling runners, spectators being pushed into the course by traumatic force, fire flowing sideways from the front of a building and international flags hurling outward.  I kept my eyes on an older man in orange, running slowly then crumpling to the ground as the blast came.  The station repeated the scene.  I watched the man fall again.  He turned as he fell.  I had no clear thoughts.  The man lay on the ground, old and frail, unmoving.

I noticed the clock said 4:09 and I had my first clear thought.  Thank God it wasn't at the 3:00 mark, but still.  And "still" would later turn into 3 dead and nearly 200 wounded.  This first thought was echoed later by others saying "It could have been much worse."  And though they are correct, and even I thought it and think it still, it turns my stomach that I am so accustomed to such tragedies that I immediately think of how it could have been worse.

It is not my intent to now reflect on this incident with negativity.  This would be disrespectful to those immediately affected and also short sighted on my part.  I would, however, like to capture just a little of what I am feeling today.  I am not sure how to do so, and so I thought to put it here.

The Eugene Marathon today issued a statement that they would still go ahead with their race scheduled for April.  Likewise, the MS Society commented on the their many, many walks, runs and rides scheduled throughout the country stating that they understand that everyone will make their own decision about participation.  Still, I am going to take the upcoming MS Walk in San Diego as an opportunity to not be afraid, to not back down, to not cower at the threat of some unseen and cowardice foe. I'll be walking on 4/27 with my team and I know the crowd will be loud and mighty, regardless of our numbers. 

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is having fear and moving forward anyway. This, too, cannot stop us from moving!  Prayers to Boston and to all who are fearful over this tragedy. May you keep moving.  All of you.

As I said at the beginning, I have never had the desire to run to Boston.  I have even had fellow runners encourage me to take my fund raising efforts to Boston.  I had a fund raising friend there yesterday (he and his family are fine).  And up until I saw the MS Society's statement, I had no desire to go myself.  But then, the thought occurred to me that it would mean so much more than just going to run for MS or for Boston or for me.  If I went, I would be joining the countless others who will also go in the future, who will also stand up to the invisible bully and say I refuse to let you stop me. And then it occurred to me that I will be doing that now each time I run in any organized race or walk, and every time I join a crowd for a cause.  We all are...

Only, now the spark has sparked for me.  Boston is on my mind.  We'll see.  Still not sure what to think.

I do think about this:  My first marathon was in Portland, Oregon.  I was feeling pretty good as I re-entered the city, closing in on mile 25.  My family was there.  They ran with me up until the 26 mile marker where they were turned away by officials (bibs only).  During that time, I saw people helping others along, letting fatigued runners lean on them, some were crying--hell, I cried. The crowd was boisterous and supportive.  Some nursed cramps but pushed on.  At the Eugene Marathon, I was one of those needing help.  I would not have made it the last few miles if not for a good friend doubling back to see me home.  That last little bit, just before the finish is a magical and exhausting time.  Only those who run it can understand. I cannot imagine anything more devastating than what those in Boston experienced.  I just can not.  I have no more words here.  They will not describe the sadness I feel.

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