My God, what can I say?
In the midst of unthinkable tragedy, there is always personal pain. The mind strives to make sense of the senseless by making some sort of connection, but you only end up hurting more. We hug those we love a little tighter, treat those we meet a little kinder, and for a few hours, we try to throw as much positivity into the world as we can, as though it could ever make up for the devastation hanging in the air.
But today, it's even more personal for me, and for the millions of runners like me who have always taken solace in our steps. The Boston Marathon was attacked today. A celebration of strength, endurance, commitment and camaraderie, drowned in blood and smoke.
The thoughts that go through your head are endless, and as jumbled as the "news" coming out of the situation.
Why? As if the answer to that matters.
Do I know anyone in Boston? I've remembered a few, and all are safe and sound.
It's unbelievable. They attacked the spectators. They attacked hours after the winners had come through, when it was mostly older and charity runners crossing the finish line. What could they possibly have gained? What could they possibly have hated so much to do such an unthinkable thing?
And - perhaps above all - what if I had been two minutes faster in South Bend last year? I might have been in Boston today.
There is rage, and there is sadness. I want to believe that those involved will be brought to justice, but I don't care about that tonight. Tonight, I want to watch Twitter update and share in the sadness. I want to be heartened by the stories of those who helped, who sacrificed, who saved the lives of those who could not save themselves. Tonight, I want to see the spirit that I know belongs to every runner. My heart is broken, my faith in humanity once again shaken. Tonight, I need something to believe in.
It's hard to describe the feeling of family that comes with being a runner to someone who doesn't run. When you see the 26.2 sticker in the window of the car that just cut you off, you curse a little less violently. When you pass the guy in the bright orange shirt in the twilight of the morning, you nod to each other. And when you see a runner hurt, struggle, fail, you feel it, too. You want to help. Except for that top 0.5%, it's not about the competition. It's a community, and with every step, you connect more. When you hurt one of us, you hurt us all.
Tonight, we are devastated.
And tomorrow, I will run, in spite of those that would have the world burn. I'll sort through what I can with each step, and sweat out the rest. I haven't been running much of late. I haven't committed to it, and I've almost forgotten how important it was for me. I remembered today. And tomorrow, I will run.
Tonight, I will mourn.