I’ve never been to Boston.
I have three connections to the city that made the news today:
- I applied to Boston University my senior year of high school. (I didn’t get in.)
- My Great Aunt Ruth swears Babe Ruth is a distant cousin on my mom’s side. (Although I know enough about Boston to know that’s nothing to brag about.)
- When I was a kid, sometimes I would say things and according to my mom, I sounded like I had just arrived fresh from the East Coast. “You sound like you’re from Boston!” she often exclaimed. At the time, I didn’t even know what someone from Boston sounded like, but I liked the idea of being from somewhere different, somewhere far away from my hometown. (Later, as a teenager, I visited a psychic who, among other things, told me I had been a writer during the Revolutionary War in, you guessed it, Boston. When I told my mom this she nodded knowingly, as if this explained my “accent.”)
I don’t know much about Boston, but I do know what it feels like to be a runner. When I heard the news today of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I immediately thought of all those runners–from Boston and the rest of the nation, and some from other countries. I didn’t know anyone running the marathon, but I instantly felt a connection. They were runners. They were my people.
I started my relationship with running a little over a year ago, and though we’ve had our good days (running my first 5K) and our bad days (tripping and banging my knee up all nice and ugly two days before said 5K), it’s a pretty happy relationship. I know how cathartic it can be to simply put one foot in front of the other, hitting the pavement to the rhythm of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” (That’s my running anthem, but we all have our own.) I know even when we complain about running in the cold and the rain, we secretly love it; we get a slight thrill out of our sneakers splashing through a puddle, leaving our socks waterlogged. “If I can run in this weather,” we tell ourselves, “I can run any day.” And as someone who spent the greater part of her college career in and out of psychiatrists’ offices, on and off a rainbow of meds, I know often times running is the best form of therapy.
When I think of the runners today who were literally forced off their path, I feel so incredibly helpless. It’s easy to look at this situation and proclaim that you’ve lost faith in humanity. But the people in Boston today didn’t do what was easy; they did so much more. Like the runners who crossed the finish line and continued to run to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood to victims. (This evening, the Red Cross said there was currently enough blood donated to meet the high demand. Let that sink in.) Or the first responders who, when the first bomb went off, ran toward the explosion. Or the reporters and photographers from The Boston Globe who covered this terrible tragedy–literally in their backyard–with such grace and dignity. And the countless spectators who helped wounded strangers. As Connie Schultz so eloquently put it, “America, my faith in you is unshakeable.”
Some people are already wondering if the Boston Marathon will happen next year. Like I said, I don’t know a lot about Boston, but it sounds like it’s a city full of some tough people who have plenty of gumption to go around. If I was a betting lady, I’d say the marathon will go on next year.
Next month I’ll run my first 10K. After that, I’ll work up to a half marathon. And then the big one: the marathon. I always assumed I’d run my first marathon in Cleveland, but you know, I think Boston sounds like a great place for a first marathon.
Know this Boston: When you bounce back for your next marathon–whether it’s next year or not–I’ll be there. And I’ll see you at the finish line.