Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Boston Marathon Massacre Reflection

Apr 15, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston police commissioner Edward Davis (left) and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (center) address media after bombings near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

In a past life, I was a runner. Each weekend morning and most weekday evenings, I'd come home and pull off my best Mister Rodgers. I'd take off my dress shoes in exchange for my Brooks. I'd give up the pounding headache of the office for the pounding of shoes on the asphalt. I'd exchange office chatter for the sound of my breath breaking through the crisp cold air of winter. My habitat would change from the sight of a downtown metropolitan area to a quiet sereine park or some paved oasis of solitude where it was just me, my thoughts, and the occasional bug or bird flying by.

Running was something that was my foundation too. It was with me wherever I happened to be. Rather traveling through Australia, Poland, Belgium, the U.K., Paris, Germany, Singapore, or even some small or large city in the US. While I might be alone in a large city full of people, as long as I had my shoes, a comfortable pair of shorts, I had my run, I knew where I was.

Some people pray, some people meditate, I ran. Like for many, it just became my thing. Like most things that I venture into, if I spend the time, I do it right. I built up from the 5ks, to 10, to 1/2 marathons, but if you're doing half of something, that means you haven't done the whole thing right? So like most, I ventured into the upper end of the sport that requires the least amount of skill and athleticism, but the most amount of heart, self-motivation, and desire, the marathon.

Each day during my training, I joined the thousands of other athletes around the world in the quest of a goal of finishing a 26.2 mile race on foot. Each Saturday, I would set personal records for distance. 14 miles, 16 miles, 17, 18, the numbers grew. 19, a 20 mile run to work, who knew I had it in me? I didn't. Each time, proving I wasn't just that good, I could be better, and each day coming home with enough self esteem to power a boat down the Ohio River. "Yeah, from the south end to Iroquois park, to Bardstown Road, to downtown, a little detour to stretch it, but yeah, I ran into work today." Never thought I'd be able to say it, but hey, I could after that morning.

When that morning in Chicago came where my steps to the finish line were now somehow slightly measurable, I remember thinking, what an accomplishment this could be. For me, it'd be a little harder than I imagined, despite expectations of trying to carry a snowball to the center of the earth. Mile 17 an injury popped up, but heck, only 9 more miles right? I simply promised myself the world: an unthinkable month off from running, eating whatever i wanted, sleeping in, staying up late, and despite tearing that IT band, a feeling in which you can relate to if you envision someone prying your kneecap off with a screwdriver while you bend it over and over, I crossed the line.

Tears swelled up in my eyes and through the hazy glassy vision, I scoped for my girlfriend. The one person I knew at the finish line of thousands. When I found her, I stood happier than I've ever felt in my life - my medal, free beer, and a metallic cloth draped around my shoulders, staring out of the chain link fence, just needing a hug, support. I was happy it was over. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I knew I would get through it and I did. I might have finished behind some ungodly number of people, but I finished.

My goal accomplished and it wouldn't have mattered one bit if I didn't have anyone there to help me.

See, while running, you do the work. When you finish, it's the work of others to help you get to your hotel, car, or just a cold shower you forget about until you need them. You push yourself to unthinkable limits, and then sometimes beyond...someone has to be there when you break.

Yesterday morning's tragedy in Boston was nearly 1400 miles away from me and the closest I came to the race is that I have an employee in Boston visiting a friend running, but it doesn't take me reflecting with my shoes on to see how it could have been my loved ones that were victims. While my marathon was 4 hours, 34 minutes...the bombs in Boston going off 25 minutes prior... it is the same time my friends and family would be arriving to the finish line to be there to support me, had it been my race. It's the same time the average person will finish a marathon next weekend in Ohio, or the weekend after in Louisville. Its an act that is unthinkable. It will stretch our abilities to contain our fears. It will push our boundaries to find the ability to continue on, washing away blood, sweat, tears, and picking up the pieces.

It'll be Boston that has to do it. Those of us watching from our TV sets around the country and world just need to be there when they are finished.

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