My Dad, also a runner, helped me realize just what I was feeling when he commented that the bombing was like an invasion of our sacred space. Dad is a runner and while long distance running is not my main exercise these days, I have run two half marathons and I know the running community.
Running and training for a long race is a spiritual practice for many people. It can be a personal meditative practice, and it teaches you so much about yourself. You learn more about yourself running and training for a race than you ever expected to. Runners also train in a community. You train with people of all ages, races, and abilities and everyone cheers each other on. The person who runs a seven minute mile will help you train for a half marathon when you run a thirteen minute mile. You train for months together- through shin splints, freezing in the icy winter, and three hour weekend runs.
On race day, at the start of a race you all wait in anticipation; wondering if you have enough fuel and sharing stories about when your toenails fell off at the last race or you just missed your personal record by ten seconds. Spectators cheer you on whether you are the fastest runner, or one of the slowest. They wait on the route and tell you "You're almost there!," even though you have five more miles which for a runner is not "almost there," but it makes you smile and run faster anyway. At the end of the race, family, friends, and strangers are still cheering even after waiting there for you for hours.
The bombing was tragic for so many reasons, one of which was the deeper meaning of running, races, and the running community. Even the timing and placement of the bombs meant something if you know what typical paces are for runners and how family waits for people at the finish. When the bombs went off in Boston at the finish line, it was at the four hour mark when many of the older Boston qualifiers and some charity team runners would have been crossing the finish. When my husband and I ran the Disney half marathon in 2008, my Mom and Dad were waiting for us at the finish line with our four year old son who came out and crossed the finish line with us. I heard that an eight year old died in the explosion today.
|Crossing the finish line with our son at the Disney Half Marathon.|
The race is sacred ground and the people (from runners, to spectators, to volunteers) are a beloved community.
Any tragedy like this is devastating and today my heart goes out to all of those who were affected by the bombings. The running community will never be the same. But we all know, runners keep going. They are a tight knit community who run in even the darkest hours whether that be literally, emotionally, physically, or today in the form of tragedy.
May the love of supportive community uphold the family and friends of those who have died and been injured (physically and mentally) by the bombings today. May our country heal after yet another tragedy. May our world one day be free from the separateness and hate which fuels such terrible acts.