I’ve tried to write this post a few times, but nothing ever seemed worthy enough to publish. In fact, I had almost decided to abandon my efforts, but I kept coming back to it. So here it is.
After a string of morning meetings yesterday, I finally settled into my office and found a feed of the marathon just as the first women were approaching the finish line. I watched Rita Jeptoo claim her second victory, and then kept the feed going as I worked until Lelisa Desisa outkicked his closest competitors to snag a win for Ethiopia. When Wesley Korir (a Louisville guy by way of Kenya) made the top 5 after winning the whole thing last year, I turned off the feed and got back to work. I kept a tracker up to see how Jeff over at The Run Factory was doing, and when he finished safe and sound, I completely detached and hunkered down on a project about prehistoric mammals. Until news of the explosions broke.
It didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. Don’t know that it ever will. Watching the reports stream in on traditional and social media, I kept oscillating between bouts of sorrow and anger. Sorrow for those whose families have been irrevocably affected. Sorrow for those who lost their lives, their limbs. Sorrow for those who had their sense of security taken from them. And once the sadness faded, anger set in. Anger for those who worked hard to gain entrance to the world’s greatest race only to have it marred and tarnished by a senseless, spineless act. Anger toward an evil I cannot see or feel or touch but whose presence makes itself known in the most violent ways imaginable. Or unimaginable.
When I really stop and think about it, it’s hard to consider someone committing such a perverted, brutal act against anyone – let alone innocent people euphoric in a moment of accomplishment and celebration. To date, I’ve finished exactly one marathon, and it was one of the most jubilant memories of my life. Something I have a hard time explaining to those who haven’t experienced it. And to juxtapose that elation against such depravity – well, I just can’t.
It’s probably not meant for me to understand, but it doesn’t keep me from wondering what the perpetrator’s objectives were. Yesterday on Twitter, I came across a quote that read something along the lines of, “If you wanted to break someone’s resolve, picking a group of a marathoners was a bad idea.” That phrase carries tremendous weight. Runners are a tenacious bunch. There is no giving up in a race. It just doesn’t happen. Case in point – Bill Iffrig, a 78-year-old veteran of 45 marathons, was knocked to the ground after the first blast swept his legs out from under him. He got up and finished the marathon.
Runners are also a tight group. For a long time, I was hesitant to call myself a runner because I wasn’t fast or experienced. But the first time I ran with a group, they welcomed me with open arms and I immediately gained membership to a supportive, happy club of friends who could care less about my abilities. That can be said for every runner I’ve encountered since. We encourage one another. We motivate one another. We are thankful for one another.
I make it a point in every race to say thank you aloud to the men and women who are volunteering their time to make sure my run goes as smoothly as possible. The police and emergency workers who staff the bigger races are no exception. Far from it. In the midst of the madness yesterday, while a cacophony of runners was sprinting away from explosions, there were people running into the fray. Immediately. It takes a special kind of person to do that. To question nothing and throw yourself into the situation to help others without pause. THAT is the good in people.
THAT is what I’m choosing to take away from this.
Somewhat organically, I began closing out many of my entries on this blog with three words that have now taken on significant meaning. And so, I’ll close with them as both a request and a directive to my running brethren and sisters.
Keep running, friends.