Back in June 2005 I ran in, and finished, the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego, CA. I still remember the day 18 months, or so, earlier when a couple of my friends in the Navy suggested I train to run a half marathon. I did begin training, and competed in longer and longer events, a 5K, a 10K, a 15K, and then I ran every single half marathon in San Diego the year prior to the actual Marathon I finished. Every weekend I mapped out a long run, I planned the logistics, the drinks, required electrolytes, my safety, childcare for my daughter, and then I would run. I still remember the complete peace, the tranquility, the joy of those mornings out in the sun, out in my community, pushing my body to increased endurance with every additional mile. It was complete joy.
After a few races, there were two things that surprised me:
1. I loved running and with a proper training plan, I really felt I had the capability to try for a full 26.2 mile Marathon.
2. I discovered that the atmosphere and the energy that flowed from these races was among the most positive I had ever experienced. No one was angry. People were focused, serious, silly, laughing, happy, sucking on oranges, drinking water, tying their shoes in just the right way, talking, stretching, warming up, encouraging, helpful, smearing sunscreen, colorful, and excited.
I was hooked. This energy I found emanated from the crowd in race after race after race. People who do not run wonder why anyone would voluntarily run long distances, and I can tell you that once you experience the euphoria – you will want to feel it again and again.
I tell you this story because I must contrast it with the evil that rained down on the Boston Marathon on Monday. There are so many stories that have come and will continue to come from that day – both heartbreaking and inspirational. I can tell you that anyone who decides to run a marathon does so for very personal reasons. Those who decided to plan, take the time to train, and then actually made the distance are some of the most resilient, determined people on this planet. Their friends and families cheering for them on the sidelines had supported them through a long process and now were waiting to share in the moment of victory. I had my daughter’s name on my bib and the last .2 miles, I was looking for her, waiting to see her, I knew she was there.
I cannot imagine if I had been close to finishing when a terrorist bombed the race, knowing my family was up there waiting for me to finish. It is so far from what that moment is supposed to be, what the entire day represents, from the pure goodness of long distance runners and the positive atmosphere.
I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the joy that a marathon should bring, and to mourn the loss of three beautifully innocent people. I need to say a prayer for the dozens of people whose bodies will never be the same, that their spirit might grow exponentially stronger. A prayer that the inevitable fear hiding in the dark might soften over time and be replaced by resilience so strong that and love so deep that the fear has no where to grow. A prayer for the city of Boston, you have been an example for all since the birth of our country, and you are a perfect symbol of all that is America yet today. A prayer for our country, the United States of America – whether this came from within or from an international threat, we will not fear, we will live, we will thrive. When you finish a marathon, as you cross the finish line, you will never feel more ALIVE.
Alive. Yes, that is the feeling of a marathon. Alive. Terrorism cannot take that away.