I didn’t run it. I wasn’t there. For once, I was actually home. But as a 13-time marathoner, a TV crew member and most importantly, as an American, this one hurts. I had a dear friend and co-worker working on the race TV crew in Boston yesterday and two friends running the race; thankfully, all are fine. I have followed the two runners with awe on Facebook for the past few months as they trained. As a 5-hour-ish marathoner myself, Boston is out of my league, but I’m truly inspired by those for whom it’s not. Trust me, it’s one thing to run a marathon. It’s entirely another to run one in 3 1/2 hours.
The Boston Marathon is the only race in the US that still has a qualifying time. Unless you’re running for charity, at least one qualifying race is required. This is a marquee race for serious runners. It’s the kind of race people aspire to all their lives and many spend years trying to qualify. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to run the Boston Marathon. The finish line was crowded with families proudly waiting to watch someone they love achieve a milestone. My heart breaks for those who lost loved ones yesterday, those who were injured and those who were unable to fulfill the dream of crossing that finish line due to this senseless act.
You may find this hard to believe but, to me, running marathons is fun. It’s a challenge for the body and the mind. It’s a commitment. It’s about setting goals, working hard and achieving them. I like to think it’s a metaphor for life. There is no other feeling in the world quite like crossing the finish line of your first marathon.
Whoever did this has forever taken away part of the joy and innocence of marathon running for me and for runners everywhere. After 9/11, I was on a plane the first day commercial air traffic resumed. It was just me, the flight crew and a dozen or so passengers all exchanging nervous looks. I fear I’ll see those same faces at my next marathon start line. But I didn’t let a cowardly act of terrorism take away my love for travel and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it take away my love for running.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the runners, their families and the people of Boston. I’m angry. And I can only imagine how you must feel. But, for me, anger is wasted energy. I prefer to put my energy into more productive pursuits. Like training for my next marathon. If you’ve never run one but always thought about it, this is your year. Pick your race and get out there and start training. Run in memory of Boston, run for charity or just run for yourself. Because in the aftermath of the Boston tragedy, if there’s one thing I do know for sure, it’s that whoever did this simply cannot win.
So lace up your running shoes, America…I’ll see you at the start line.