I am a runner. I run to keep my body, heart and mind in shape. I run to move the energy. I run to feel connected to the earth. My doctor is also a runner, and he is my coach and biggest fan. In 2009, I took the ‘Half Marathon’ clinic and, that being my 50th year, ran my first half marathon in June. I will never forget crossing the finish line, with a new sense of self, a heightened confidence, and a new passion that would take me miles! Since then, I have completed 14 half marathons, the last one being in Minneapolis on March 16th. And I have the shoes to show for it!
I have my routine, like most runners; the days up to, the evening before and the morning of a race. Yes, I am superstitious about having everything just so, down to my oatmeal packet, banana and bagel organized and ready for the pre-race breakfast. My clothes have to be ready, including my race bib with the special 4 pins, iPod recharging and water chilling. I indulge in pasta and water the night before and try to get 10 hours sleep.
I often drive myself to the race, run alone, and humbly cross the finish line without hugs and fanfare. While all my family live on the east coast, I enjoyed seeing my parents at the finish line at The Disney Princess Half in 2010 and my Dad at the finish line at last year’s Winnipeg Police Half. There have been times when friends have surprised me at mile 12 or at the finish line. Those memories and those friends are treasures. I have inspired my nieces and nephew (all inNew Brunswick) to put on their runners and get moving. As young professionals with busy lives and young families, they delight in texting me their latest race details, reminding me that I am their inspiration.
I am not a speed runner. I am an endurance runner. Consequently, I will never qualify to run the Boston Marathon. There is a recreational run associated with the race that I have thought about running one day, just to be part of the hype of this iconic destination in the ‘marathon world’.
When the news broke, my phone started to get a higher volume of texts and emails that started pouring in at work and home just after 3:00. Friends and former colleagues were making sure I hadn’t trekked toBoston. I couldn’t watch the news casts that night, let any of the details enter my psyche. Not until the next day did I get the facts. I stood over my kitchen sink and cried, paralyzed with pain, sadness and grief for my fellow runners. No matter what the length of the race, any runner at their last mile experiences a culmination of thoughts and feelings. My tears in the last mile usually centre on profound gratefulness at being able to run. Gratitude for a healthy body, heart and mind!
I cannot fathom what the runners inBostonfaced. For all their training and anticipation, many were not able to cross that coveted finish line. We cannot measure what runners and spectators lost that day. We may never know how many lives have been changed forever or what that change even looks like. Nightmares did walk in sunshine that day. Raw anguish prevailed.
The running may have stopped at that particular event on that particular day, but not forever.
Registration has increased at the Fredericton Marathon on May 12th and likely others too. There is a shift in the running world. I ran 10 miles after work Monday evening as I am in final days of preparation for the Police Half Marathon. Fellow runners were waving at me, smiling and nodding at me. There was a sense of solidarity in the air. This, following an assault to the ground that carries us, the passion that drives us and the sense of safety in the purest form of exercise and friendly competition: running. This sport sees no avalanche of snow on the ski hill, no car crashes at the race track and no head injury on the hockey rink. Our injuries are aching muscles, sore knees, and loss of the occasional toenail, and, if we really don’t pay attention, dehydration.
The Boston Marathon will not be defined by this terror. As President Obama stated in his Memorial Address, “and this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.” Maybe running will be raised to a new level. Maybe people will lace up and take to the streets with resolve. Perhaps to avenge the terrorists, to avenge sedentary, or to achieve a healthy body, heart and mind. It worked for me!
On Sunday, May 5th, I will not only run for Nick Paulet (the Police Officer/cancer survivor who is the man behind the Police Half Marathon), I will also be running forBoston. My tribute is in no way political but a defiant acknowledgement of my fellow runners. I offer those people, whose lives have been changed forever, to the God who runs beside me every time my feet hit the pavement.