I intended to write my first post, after relocating my blog, about running. I intended to write this on Patriots Day, April 15th. Being from Massachusetts, I was feeling a little homesick - after all, it was the first Marathon Monday I had missed in quite some time - and I wanted to talk about the first (and only) race I've ever done, a 10k in Gloucester, MA. I wrote a good 75% of it, talking about how, as a beginner to the running world, a support system made all the difference, especially when that support system consisted of two colleagues (and friends) who ran me across the finish line after I had to walk half due to a cramp.
Then, I received a message from my best friend, telling me she and her sister had almost died, can I call her parents, there was an explosion at the marathon.
Thankfully, everyone I know is okay. My friend, who came so, SO close, is okay, although wondering why she was spared when others weren't. Photos were released on Deadspin.com the other day, taken above the point of the first explosion, before it happened. I can see her in the photo. Looking at how close in proximity she is, I don't know why she was spared, either.
Like everyone else, I have questions. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm still a little shocked. I'm thankful. I'm grateful. There are lots of things I don't know, just like everyone else. But there are some things that I do know, and I know that Boston is a resilient city, it is a determined city, and it is a city of people who look challenges in the eye and say 'bring it on.'
Being 3,000 miles away from this, from a community I know so well, was difficult. When I called my mom that afternoon, the first thing she reminded me was that if I hadn't gotten this job, if I hadn't moved to Los Angeles, I would have probably been there. She's not wrong. But I wasn't. I'm here in a community of people who, in a weird juxtaposition to everything unfolding before me via social media that day, kept on with their lives. I had to constantly remind myself that not everyone I know is from Massachusetts, and even more so, not everyone understands what Marathon Monday means to Bostonians.
My faith in humanity was restored in the stories that followed that day, of the survivors and their outlooks; the police officers, firefighters, EMT's, doctors and nurses who's immediate attention helped save lives; the regular citizens who ran towards the blast instead of away from it; and the runners, who kept running towards the hospitals to donate blood. (Have you ever seen a person immediately after they run a marathon? 9 times out of 10, they want a cheeseburger, a beer, and a nap. These people are extraordinary.) I saw an out pour of support online, with runners and walkers all over the world going out and running for Boston days later. Millions upon millions upon millions of dollars raised for the One Fund.
It all keeps reminding me of what I had originally intended to post, which I will touch upon here. When I ran that 10k a few years ago, I got hit with a cramp that slowed me down to the point where I knew I was going to come in last. I had to walk the last three miles frustrated and annoyed, knowing there were tons of people waiting for me (literally) to cross the finish line so they could pack up and go home, and was beating myself up over it when I saw two figures appear at the top of the last hill I'd have to climb. My coworkers, Jillian and Sarah, who participated in the race with me, were standing there, looking for me. When I finally caught up with them, I told them I couldn't run across the finish line. "Oh, no," they responded. "You're running across that finish line, and we're running with you." And they did. They ran with me the last .2 miles and I ran across that finish line and it was the most accomplished I had felt in a long time. Had I not had their support, I would have walked across it with defeat, or perhaps even had been picked up long before and shuttled back.
The thing is, endurance athletes and the community around them are a strong motherf*&king group. In my last job, I spent hours upon hours at practices, and then at the actual events, and I witnessed hours of dedication, determination and resilience. I've also witnessed runners or cyclists who are just about ready to give up, like I was that day, when a voice calls out from the crowd that they CAN do this, and it is like they are re-energized and ready to go. Thousands of people line the route to cheer and yell and pass out water and encourage. The community rallies around those who dare to do something which most would consider crazy, supporting them in any way they can.
That is the story that is coming out of Boston. The world is rallying itself around the Boston community, telling them that they CAN do this. They will get through this, and they will come out even stronger at the end. That is what we should hang on to - knowing that in times of trouble, in times of grief and sadness and reflection, that there will be that community to help us. That, just like my day in Gloucester, the world is responding with a resounding "you will cross that finish line, and we will do it with you."