When I saw the topic for the weekly photo challenge, I immediately thought back to the post I wrote after the Boston Marathon bombing.
I was proud of that a piece. Proud to tap into my feelings after such a tragedy and also proud to finally put into words one of the bigger reasons why I run.
You see, while you are out there running and pushing yourself all on your own, you are among a community. Come race day, we might all be out there for a thousand different reasons, but there is still one reason that unites us: the desire to cross the finish line to complete the goal we set.
I wanted to reblog that post as part of the weekly photo challenge topic: Community.
Change of Course in Boston
“A course never quite looks the same way twice. The combinations of weather, season, light, feelings and thoughts that you find there are ever-changing.” -Joe Henderson
The events that took place yesterday at the Boston Marathon are tragic. Tragic for the obvious reasons — for the lives lost and those injured — and tragic because they reawaken that sense of dread and sorrow that weighs you down after something like this occurs. Just as we felt following Sandy Hook. And 9-11. And Virginia Tech. Too many more to name.
I heard the news about Boston in the middle of a hectic work day where I jumped from one meeting to the next with little down time. A friend and co-worker emailed me, along with the group of friends whom I had just traveled with to D.C. to run in the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race. We all work together but it’s really the running that bonds us.
I immediately jumped on Twitter to reach out to my extended running community. People I don’t know and will more than likely never meet, but people who give me bits of advice and daily encouragements on all things running. They are a group smattered across the continental U.S., England, Canada, Australia, Hawaii and beyond. They know me by my Twitter handle and profile image more than my first name and face.
And they are why I run. Not the virtual strangers on Twitter or my friends/co-workers, but the community I’ve found as a runner. Sure, I also run to push myself, to accomplish goals I set, and to have time to myself to regroup and sort out my head. But there’s community among us runners. We cheer for one another; we celebrate friends, strangers and ourselves; we coach and high-five; we compete; we ring cowbells; we might even trash talk and spit a bit too much.
I ran a lot before I had kids and I ran with a group. We spent hours out there together on trails and sidewalks. We shared laughs, tears, falls, bloody knees, and awkward bathroom stops. When I started running again after kids, it was solo. It wasn’t until I finally ran in a race again that I remembered why I loved it so much. There’s community in knowing you are in it with other people. You’re all out there for the same reason. I may want to cross the finish line for a different reason than the woman in front of me or the guy behind me, but we want to cross that line — and we do. Maybe we envy the ones who cross before us — and maybe not — and maybe we relish the looks on the faces of those who finish after us because we know how good it feels. The energy of it all is undeniable — and has even brought my Dad to tears upon witnessing it.
Watching the news about Boston has shaken me. Seeing my community nearing a finish line I will doubtfully ever experience and understanding that for many a runner it’s a lifetime goal being realized, only to be literally rocked to the core by the unimaginable, is crushing.
That man I saw fall as the first explosion occurred and the dazed looks I saw on the faces of the people who crossed the finish line just after it happened — victorious, but not understanding that a different story was being written? I hurt for them. I hurt for them and their families, friends, partners and fans watching and who were injured. They are my people. They are my community.
Sadly, that course will never quite look the same.