Today's my son Henry's second birthday. He's such a joyful happy boy, I'm so happy to be celebrating his birth with friends and family this weekend. His birth story, which was pretty great but had some scary moments on its own, overlaps with the Boston Marathon bombing news. We learned about it while we were in labor.
Casually checking Facebook on our phones in the delivery room between contractions, we learned about the bombings and tracked the aftermath. I tried not to focus on it, as we had work to do in that room! But it sticks with me and his birthday (and tax day) will remind me of this horrible series of events forever.
I had what was probably the same sinking feeling in my throat that most, but also connected emotionally with the fact that this was a raw and personal attack on my hobby (I'm out of practice, admittedly), an attack on something so individual and hard that good people have been working and training and dedicating themselves to for months and years. These were my people. It's an interesting connectedness -- running is an individual sport, and I connect with the fact that other people do this too, and know how it feels, and how you can grow and train and improve and fail, and get back on the road. This is something that the victims owned for themselves, and I appreciate that others know this about me if they know I'm a runner.
In Boston, you have to qualify to run the marathon. So the runners who were injured were strong. They were dedicated. They sacrificed to get where they got. They got struck down and injured in a moment of triumph and elation. At just over 4 hours on the race clock, these were people who were happy to be finishing. Normal people. Great athletes, but not elite runners. I know what a 4 hour marathon feels like, and I know the feelings of elation and exhaustion and energy and triumph. I can't imagine how this would feel to add terror and uncertainty of safety. And urgency. And fear.
Having finished the Chicago marathon in 2001, which was almost cancelled due to 9/11, I've spent a good deal of time running and thinking about terrorism. On the infamous date itself, I went for a run to clear my head and sort out my thoughts and feelings. I remember having to stop several times along the route to catch my breath, and not from the running. That run, and my marathon finishes came to mind when I learned about Boston. It's a motivator to keep running and keep pursuing goals and dreams, as a rejection and protest of terrorism and criminal violence. Another tool that I can use to hit the road or the spinning class or the pushups. Pushing myself as a big middle finger to random bastards who kill and injure for whatever reason. I hope the victims and families and those more connected to the events can get some strength from it too.