"There was an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon," my coworker said to me during lunch on Monday. We are at a conference in Phoenix and I'd been thinking of the 10+ friends I have running the Boston Marathon all morning. My Facebook feed and Twitter were full of updates, best wishes, and excitement about the race.
No, I thought when my coworker said that. It must be someone on Twitter overreacting. So I started looking myself. And the first pictures I saw made my jaw drop. I hadn't felt that way since September 11th. It was a bomb. Someone did this on purpose. Someone, for some reason, wanted to ruin our day.
I haven't run Boston. I probably won't qualify to run Boston for another 20 years. But the 10 or more people I knew who were running it today worked hard to get there. Some of them deferred after the heatwave that struck in 2012 and 2013 was going to be their year. Others worked for years to bring their marathon time down so they qualified for this race. They put registration day on their calendars and I watched them train for months. They were persistence in their goal. They were brave in the face of adversity.
My heart broke today when I began reading the updates. Nausea overwhelmed me. A physical feeling of despair. I went to the bathroom at this beautiful resort in Phoenix and cried. I cried for my friends who worked so hard only to have someone put a black mark on their day. I cried for the spectators who were there to cheer. For those people who stand by our side for months as we train to run a distance most people barely drive on a daily basis. I cried because I didn't know where my friends were or if they were okay. Thankfully, because of social media, I was able to determine in less than two hours that everyone I knew who was there was fine. But there's a part of me that keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Runners are a community. We cheer for one another. We revel in one another's successes and are supportive when there are disappointments. We feel each other's pain and elation. So even though I wasn't in Boston, my heart broke. Those are my tribe. My friends. My family. Whether on the road running or on the sidewalk cheering. We are all one.
And I know that as runners we will be strong. We will be persistent. We will be brave. We will keep running. I have a feeling that anyone who did not get a chance to cross that finish line today, and even those that did, will be back. They will work hard to get there and they will cross that finish line in the future with two thoughts on their mind. Excitement at crossing the Boston finish line and a heavy heart in remembrance of those that were killed, maimed or injured in the explosions on April 15, 2013.
The person who did this didn't just attack Boston. He attacked runners. He attacked a community of people who never give up. And we won't give up. We will do whatever needs to be done to support the victims, to support the city of Boston, and support one another.
So, if you ran Boston on Monday and need a hug, I'm here. Because I need a hug, too. Let's hug, and then let's get out on the road and show the world what we're made of.
Want to put that run to good use? The Chicago Running Bloggers are working on creating a 5K where registration fees will go to a charity supporting those injured in the Boston Marathon blasts. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the most up-to-date information.