I'm blogging today not as a writer, but as a runner. And, to be honest, as a member of the human race whose heart is broken after the attacks on the Boston Marathon Monday.
I have been running, and racing, for almost 20 years. When I write that, it's hard to believe. I'm not as fast as I used to be (not that I was ever that fast), and I don't run as many 5Ks and 10Ks as I used to, but I still lace up my running shoes and head outside a couple of times a week.
I've run in about every kind of weather imaginable, on every terrain imaginable, in a variety of cities and towns and states and races everywhere from 1 mile to 26.2 miles. I know what it means to struggle through the last few hundred yards to the finish line, and I know how it feels to stand on that finish line and cheer for the runners crossing it, because I've done both well over a hundred times in the last 2 decades.
I think part of the horror that comes from Monday's attack is not only knowing that it can happen anywhere, to anyone, when we're least expecting it, but that this one happened in a place that is meant to celebrate life and health and activity. There is no protection when you're running, no umbrella or sunshade or wheels or anything at all to ease the motion of simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. It is you and the road. That's it. You are vulnerable to wind, rain, traffic, other runners, your own pain, blisters, sun, and yes, bombs planted by people who have hate in their hearts the likes of which we cannot imagine.
I weep for those lost and injured on Monday. I also am eternally grateful for those who stepped in and comforted, healed, and helped in the moments and hours and days following the crisis. That is, after all, what you do when someone falls, when someone stumbles as they're running - you steer them back or pick them up and help them cross the finish line or hold them when they need you.
I hope that - I know that - those in Boston and around the country will continue to move forward, put one foot in front of the other with the strength and determination and optimism that comes from living in this country and from belonging to a fiercely determined and proud community that calls itself runners. I am sad, but I went out yesterday to run and I will continue to run, to race, to travel to big cities and small towns and foreign countries because I will not live, or run, in fear.
Run. Walk. Pray. Love. Connect. We need to remind each other, not only in these moments of sadness and loss, that we are there for each other, always, cheering and pulling each other to the finish line.