Like many, I have been reeling since Monday, trying to make sense of the tragic events in Boston. I have completed my training runs sans iPod, so lost in thought that I about fell off the treadmill.
As marathoners go, I am pretty average. I am a “middle of the pack” runner. Someday I hope to be a “squeaker”, as they are called in Boston, one that qualifies and squeaks in. I don’t know if that will ever happen. Yet, I run.
I run because it makes me happy. It clears my head. It relaxes me. It helps me put things in perspective. I run to stay healthy. I run so I can eat cookies, (a lot of cookies). My daughter has started running with me at times. I love our time together when we share a run.
So what is it about the marathon? As I said, I am pretty average. Before my first event, my children asked me what this was all about. I explained the distance and how long it would take me and how many people were also running. “Are you going to win?” my son asked. “No.” I responded. “Then why bother?” He was confused. Why bother with all the training, racing, hoopla and such if you know that you are not going to win?
That is the magic of the marathon.
I will never be on the field during the Super Bowl to catch a pass from Aaron Rodgers. I will not get a hit off of CC Sabathia during the World Series. But at any given marathon, I will line up with elite runners, Olympians, world class athletes, and I will run the same course, at the same time, on the same day. That inspires me. What other sport is like this? We follow the same training plans, albeit Kara Goucher probably does not drink as much beer or eat as much junk as I do. We have the same struggles during training, lost toenails, BM issues. We persevere over 42.2 km (or 26.2 miles) on race day. Marathons are not about winning. They are about commitment, hard work, the simple joy in accomplishment. When coming into the finishing corral at my first marathon (in Vancouver) I could not stop smiling. “I am going to DO IT!” I kept saying to myself. I had this euphoria, runner’s high, cartwheels through a flowery meadow on a summer day-type joy that would not – could not – keep me from smiling and has inspired me to run a marathon every year since. That is something that will not be taken away from me, or any other runner that has finished a race.
I am a marathoner. And I am not alone. Monday’s horrific events will not end the races. As someone on Facebook wrote.. “If you are trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.”