As most people, I have been struggling with the attacks on the Boston Marathon for the past few days. On 9-11 I fielded a phone call from my Mom who was very concerned of my whereabouts. I was in Los Angeles but was traveling a lot at the time so I could have been anywhere. On 04-15, I fielded a call from my wife who directed me to the news and as before, I sat teary eyed and stunned in front of the television. Horrible people doing horrible things………….cowardly attacking the innocent in an attempt to put us in a place of fear. April 15, 2013 was a bad day for the entire world……..for the human race. As a runner and as a coach for Team in Training, it was a particularly bad day because they attacked one of the most sacred places in the world………..the marathon finish line.
So many people have shared beautiful words about this over the past few days. I have shared those words via social media but also want to put my own words to paper for two reasons. Someday there is a lesson for my kids coming out of these attacks and I want my words to be here when they are ready. My wife and I shielded them from the news of the Boston attacks. My 5year old daughter is far too innocent and I want her to maintain that innocence as long as humanly possible. My 8 year old son is aware of the 9-11 attacks but is too young to really grasp all the tragedy that came from that horrible day and I did not want to risk the same about Boston. In a selfish way, I also did not want my son to be afraid to come watch his Dad at his next big race. Secondly, I want to put my words out there to those I run with and those I have coached. While I have seen a lot of runners respond to the Boston situation from a position of strength, I have also read the posts of folks that express fear and concern of going to their next race and I believe it is critical we move forward not only for ourselves but for the future of running as well…..for that person sitting on the side lines waiting to buy their first pair of shoes…..that person that watches us from afar waiting for the courage to jump in and change their life.
I will not be long winded here. My thoughts are clear and concise and are as follows:
•The reason we must go on is the same reason that we run and the reason we ever toe the start line of any endurance race. I have said this so many times……..my favorite part about endurance sports is staring fear in the face and shoving it aside. What happened in Boston is horrific. It is angering. It was meant to insight fear and I do not want us as a community to give in to that fear.
•Running helps to show us all that we are capable of anything. Every time we put on a pair of shoes….every time we log another mile…..it changes us. Every finish line crossed is the culmination of an amazing journey. I would be saddened to know that any of my friends lose their grip on this and let this part of their life slip away. I have shared the finish line with so many people. As a coach for Team in Training, I have shared hugs and tears at Mile 26.1 of so many races and watched as my teammates hobbled that last glorious 0.1 miles to see their lives changed. I want to see more lives changed because in the end it makes the world a better place. Runners do amazing things. The world truly is a not the same without us.
•Endurance sport finish lines truly represent all that the world should be. It is a place where people from all over the world unite as one. The finish line knows no race or religion. It does not care if you are overweight or skinny. It does not care if you are fast or slow. Whether you finish the marathon in 2:10 or 6:10, you covered the same distance as everyone else on that day. At mile 26.2, we are not black or white, Christian or Muslim, we are just marathon runners. Coach Dave Gold, a remarkable Team in Training coach put good words to this earlier this week when he said “We’re all the same at mile 26. Bones and muscle, heart and soul.”
•For all of the reasons above, we must continue to go on for those that have yet to experience what it is we know about the finish line. It is a glorious place on so many levels. We know this but there are many yet to lace up their first pair of running shoes. I have seen people begin to run for every reason in the book from meeting people and losing weight to fighting horrible diseases, honoring loved ones and gaining the strength to get off the couch after seeing their spouse murdered in front of them. Whatever brings someone to the doorstep of the running community, they cross the finish line a different person capable of so much more than they were before. This may sound melodramatic but I believe it with all that I am. As I said in my last post SMILE BIG, there are people on the sidelines watching us runners. They watch and slowly build the courage to jump into the mix. I have done this myself. While I did not run very fast, I just finished my first 50 mile ultra marathon. If you had asked me years ago whether I would ever run that far, I would have told you I had no interest. Truth be told, that answer would have masked my fear of actually covering the distance but I sat and I watched as Colin and Billy and Sally and Josh and Ron and Michael and Emily and many others all covered the distance and over time I started to believe I could do it too. I wont lie, my fear at the start line brought tears to my eyes but I took that first step and ultimately crossed the finish line. I am different now. I am more confident about what I am capable of. We owe this same experience to those sitting and watching us so I beg you to please carry on. Put on those running shoes and hit the streets and hit the trails and sign up for those races. You need it. I need it. The world needs it.
My prayers go out to everyone impacted by the horrible events in Boston.
Great read Chris. Very well said. I love the marathon too. Such an equalizer in life.ReplyDelete