There have been many blog posts in response to the tragedy that occurred this week. Some of them much better written than anything I could put to words. I actually started this post Monday evening, but it wasn’t (and still isn’t) anything but an unorganized collection of thoughts I’ve had over the past few days.
Runners Share a Special Bond.
When I first heard the news, I was at my desk, checking Twitter. I ran down to the atrium where we have a TV always showing the news. A few others would walk by, stop and carry on. I was glued to the spot for about 10 minutes before I returned to my desk, reading more news accounts. Eventually I caught myself reaching for tissue. Why was this getting at me so much? I’ve witnessed other tragic events, but I don’t think they ever brought me to tears. There are few things that do, and almost all of them are in regard to close friends and family.
There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet. — W.B. Yeats
I guess that’s it. I think of these fellow runners and their supporters as close friends that I’ve never met. We share a special bond. We spot those oval stickers 5 cars ahead and when we stop next to each other at a light, we give a nod. We say hello when passing each other on our morning runs. We strike up conversations at the grocery store with someone because of the race jacket or shoes they’re wearing. We form friendships mid-race and end up chatting like we’re old friends who are catching up — and before we know it, we’ve ran 6 miles together.
The runner’s and their supporters who were harmed are my friends, even though we never met.
The Back of the Pack are Runners, Too.
I had a few petty complaints about what I heard on the news. One in particular was that several times I would hear that the marathon had already ended. Meanwhile, the clock was still ticking and runners were still finishing. Yes, the elites had finished hours ago. And most people in order to qualify need a time under 4 hours, so most time qualifiers were finished. But that doesn’t mean the race is over. Nearly 25% of the runners who started were unable to finish. Some of those people may have dropped earlier, but we’re still talking about nearly 5000 people. Speaking for the back of the pack, we count. The race wasn’t over for us.
Now don’t mistake my complaint. It wasn’t that the back of the pack was forced to stop, or that their possibly only chance at running Boston will forever be marked as a DNF. Its disappointing, but they’re just happy to be safe, I’m sure. But I think of those that were just ahead of these people. The ones that were on course for a “slow” 4:10 finish time. Sure that may be slow to a 20-something BQ’er, but to me that’s fast. Those that were finishing right at the time of impact may have ran half the speed as the elites, but I guarantee that they’re were equally exhausted. I wish the media had more respect for that.
I can’t believe the amount of activity I’ve seen by spammers and profiteers, trying to make a buck off of the incident. Immediately after initial reports of the explosions, I quickly saw fake Boston Marathon Twitter accounts (names like @_BostonMarathon or @BostonMarathons) being retweeted with a message promising donations for every retweet. You may question how these people make money off of it. Here’s a quick explanation:
A user creates fake account and sends out messages asking to be retweeted. Their message gets seen by thousands of people in the matter of minutes, consequently their number of followers grows. The owner then changes the username and sells the account to someone who will then have a Twitter account pre-populated with lots of followers.
Grieving for the Lost and their Families
I can’t help but think of Martin Richard, the 8-year old boy who was killed waiting at the finish line to cheer on his father. As a father, its the Richard Family’s tragic story that hits closest to home. I continue to shed tears for this family and have decided to dedicate my next race to fellow father marathoner, Bill Richard and his family.
I made a shirt design that I’ll give to a friend to make. I just need to find a Boston blue tech tank to put it on. Feel free to use it, if you like.
Yesterday I went for a run. Jeff (Detroit Runner) earlier mentioned that he ran for 4.09 miles, representing the 4:09 gun time when the first explosion occurred. I thought it was a good idea and did the same with the intention of keeping the families that were affected in thought. I tried to focus on them, thinking of the Richard family and the pictures of those who lost limbs, but I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t want to, but because the further I got into my run, the clearer my mind became. Running has a magical power to cleanse the mind. So although I tweeted about my #RunForBoston, its really a run for myself.
I was angry, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was confused, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was exhausted, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was lost, unsure, empty, afraid. Certain that whatever was left of my sanity had snapped, had come untethered and floated away, to a place so high and remote that I would never see it again, and that even if I did, I wouldn’t recognize it.
So I went for a run. And things got better.
I felt like things could not possibly get worse, so I went for a run. And things got better.
(Another time, I felt like things could not get much better. I went for a run. Things got much better.)
After enough miles, over enough runs and enough years, I realized: No matter what, no matter when, or where, or why, I can find my shoes and go for a run and things will get better.
And that realization? Just knowing that?
It made things better. — Mark Remy, Runner’s World