I am sure the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon last week impacted just about everyone in this country in one way or another. As I runner, who had several friends who ran Boston (but were all safe), the impact was an emotional one for me. Although I was not directly impacted, being able to run is something I place a high value on, and this has been trampled on for me, as well as for many other runners.Running provides a sense of peace and freedom to me. Many times I find myself free of all other concerns of life, if for a brief moment. Racing brings people together. We all run for different yet with somewhat similar reasons. We come from varied backgrounds, yet we run to accomplish a goal: cross the finish line. To many, running is sacred. Even though the intent of the bombers is still unknown, such an attack diminishes the sense of peace and freedom found in running. This is a difficult thing to wrestle with!
Today was a big day for me. Today, I set out to complete my 10th official marathon at the inaugural Horesetooth Marathon, and first marathon in Colorado since the attack at Boston. There was some apprehension on my part leading to the start, due to the fear now associated with racing. That said, early this morning, a small group of runners gathered in Fort Collins, not willing to allow fear to dampen their spirits. Prior to the start of the race, the course director asked for 26.2 seconds of silence for the victims in Boston. In that moment, I offered up prayers for the victims, their families, and all those affected by this tragedy. Then it struck me; in this brief moment, this diverse group of runners had stopped all movement, ceased all activities, and turned their thoughts to others. Regardless of their backgrounds or personal belief systems, we had found yet another source of unity. We remembered the tragedy of last week, yet we were resolute in not letting heartache deter us from taking part in the struggle and triumph of the marathon.
The race itself was one of the most difficult races I have ever done, due primarily to the conditions on the course. It was also a beautiful course! During periods of the run, I found myself thinking about how amazing it is that runners, who often run in isolation or small groups, have the ability to come together for a few hours to support and push each other to accomplish a goal.As we neared the last mile, we could hear the cheering at the finish line; it occurred to me that it was a similar sound to what all other runners hear as they approach the end. The last mile can often feel beyond difficult with everything hurting and it feels like it can take so much energy just to cross that line. Runner after runner finished to the same cheering I did, after pushing through hard mile after hard mile.
A runner’s spirit can be bruised; but it cannot be crushed, trampled one, or taken away. A runner’s spirit is a testament to endurance, perseverance, and hard work. However, in a race—even though we run as individuals—in unity we push towards the same end and the same goal. As a runner, I will continue to find peace and joy and freedom in running, despite the challenges of this life.