Though I’m not usually a big race-watcher, I was really excited to live-stream the Boston Marathon yesterday while I was at work. I listened as the elite women and men ran 6- and 5-minute miles, and even switched over to watch as both raced toward the finish line. It was exhilarating and my heart raced as they ran the final 300 meters.
I’m not a professional runner. Heck, I’m not even a good hobby runner, but I enjoy running, and am excited about signing up for my next marathon, half marathon, even 5k. Though running is a solo sport (you can’t blame anyone else if you are slow and you can’t really credit anyone else for how fast you are), it’s truly a community. In almost all the races I’ve run, I’ve experienced such dedication to the sport, and I’ve watched that love trickle throughout groups or even people.
When I ran my first marathon in October of 2012, I saw something that truly inspired me. One man was very behind his pace group. He had a 3:45 pace jersey on, but was slumped and jogging along back where I was (NOT the 3:45 crowd). A man in a jersey (a sponsored runner–so, a serious runner) joined up with him and said, “Keep your head up! Let’s get going.” They ran together for a few miles, the sponsored runner encouraging the older man who had failed his pace goal. They both knew they weren’t going to win the marathon, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t offer mutual inspiration and keep each other company.
Runners know that even if you’re not the fastest runner–if you run, you’re a runner. If you love the feeling of your legs moving and the wind and the sunshine and the soreness afterward, you’re a runner. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with running, a sense of “this is what I was meant to do.”
This is why it’s so scary to me that someone/some group would do what they did yesterday. Running should be accompanied by a sense of wonder and lightheartedness, not fear and death. The bombing at the Boston Marathon also hit home because I cannot imagine the sense of fear for those at the finish line and for those families who were there supporting their runners. Running is supposed to be about joy and accomplishment, not hurt and hatred.
I’m sending my thoughts to spectators and runners, families and friends, first responders and law enforcement. I saw this on Facebook from Patton Oswalt:
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
…Marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.
All of this is to say that we can’t stop running. We can’t stop the community of runners who celebrate life with every step. So keep running.