As we all know, I ran a half marathon on Saturday.
A half marathon that I was having a lot of mixed feelings about, truth be told. I sat down a couple of times Sunday to write my recap of the race. But, I was having trouble finding the right words to describe it. “I’ll write it Monday, once my hips stop hurting,” I told myself. (Because, heaven knows, you can’t write when your hips hurt.)
And then …
And, as a runner, a marathoner, I felt like someone attacked my family. Runners have come to be a huge part of my community, of who I’ve become. Some of my dearest friends and supporters are runners. As a group, they’ve changed my life. And those spectators? Cheering at the finish line? They’re the ones who pull us through. They’re the ones there at every single race, cheering our names, clapping their hands and bringing us home — whether they’re our family and friends or total strangers.
The unthinkable had happened.
I was in shock. I think, maybe, I’m still in shock.
To sit down and write a race recap for my own half marathon seems … I don’t know … silly. If I couldn’t find the right words before, I am now completely speechless. All I can think about when I try to write about my half marathon is when I ran across that finish line.
As a distance runner, when I see that finish line, something inside of me lets go. All the pain from the miles before, all the exhaustion of the months of training, all the worry about the race … they all just disappear. And a sense of happiness and pride and relief spreads through my body. I melt. And then, at the finish line, I see Mr. B’s smiling face chanting “Go, Kimi, go!” And my friends and family cheering me on — right under that clock that says “You did it; you’re here.” And it’s a feeling of pure and utter elation that takes over. Oh, yeah, and there’s love — knowing that my friends and family are there to celebrate that moment with me.
That finish-line memory was still fresh for me, is still so fresh for me. And that makes Monday’s tragedy even harder to comprehend and process.
All I can see in my head is those runners running toward their families and friends at the finish line in Boston — a smile on their faces because they’re there, they did it. For some, a lifelong dream just to be on that course. For others, a chance to do better than the year before. Weeks, months, years of sacrifice — for the runners and their families. And I see their friends and families — smiles on their faces, so proud and full of love for their runner. All that love, pride, joy and excitement.
To have all of that taken away in an instant. It’s heart breaking. And confusing. And … so many other things.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, crying about it. Thankfully Mr. B was home. We watched some news. I cried. And then, we turned off the TV and left the apartment. I needed space; I needed air.
So, we went to pick up my race charm from Saturday’s race.
I expressed to Mr. B that I’m so sad that these types of things happen in the world. Added to a difficult hate-filled experience earlier in my day, it was a lot of hate and sadness for me to take in for one day. And I told him I’m scared about the world we’re bringing a precious, precious child into. As usual, Mr. B’s wisdom was just what I needed to hear:
“This is exactly why we do need to bring a child into this world; this world needs another kind person.”
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me: ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” ~Mr. Rogers
What’s more, there is always running. There will always be running.
Tonight I laced up my still-muddy-from-the-race shoes and ran. Well, as much as Pickle would let me. Not because it was on a training program. Not because I needed to burn some calories. Tonight I ran because I can. I ran because it is a gift. I ran because I had to.
I ran because that’s all I know to do right now.
Sans watch. Sans GPS. Just me and my thoughts. I have no idea how far I went, though I could hazard a guess, nor how long it took me. All I know is I ran.
(And walked a little, too. Pickle likes that better. We’re compromising.)