Monday morning while I was watching the elite women run the Boston marathon, I wrote a post about National Library Week. I made witty jokes about confusing Patriot’s Day for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I talked about the value of libraries and today, Support Teen Literature day. I intended to post it as a bonus Monday post after I finished crying from being so inspired by the elite runners who dedicate their lives to a sport I love. I resolved to run a marathon some day and to try and qualify for this historic and amazing race.
But then turned off the TV, did a brief run, ran errands, got a burrito, and dozed on the couch watching Arrested Development. Around 3:20 I got a number of texts from my brother. I ignored them at first, because I couldn’t think of what someone wanted and I was watching Arrested Development! Important! Finally, 10 minutes later I see these texts from Jake:
You running today? 3:22pm
Just saw the news. 3:22pm.
Just making sure you are ok. 3:25pm.
Then I turned on the TV. And watched over and over the footage of the bombs going off. Needless to say I forgot about my National Library week post.
Monday afternoon, I was physically 21 miles from Boston. Almost a whole marathon in itself. I had thought about going down to watch the race, but most of my friends still had to work on the holiday and I didn’t want to go by myself. I figured I would get a better view of the elite runners on TV, so I stayed.
You have all seen the videos. Maybe you’ve had a hard time turning away and not looking at the gruesome, heartbreaking photos of the victims like me. I don’t need to describe it to you, but I was surprised at how much this whole tragedy affected me. I didn’t know anyone running, but I had some friends of friends running. All of the people I know who live in the Boston area are ok. I panicked and called my ex-boyfriend to make sure he didn’t wander down to the finish line as a break from his studies. Everyone is OK. But everyone is not OK. It’s a different place and going to be a different race from now on.
Boston, Massachusetts, and New England in general is a pretty strange place for a born and bred Midwestern girl, but I love it. It’s weird and cold, and the people can be gruff and rude.But I love these cheap, thrifty, Yankees and sometimes even the snobby polo-playing ones. They come through for you in a crisis. Sometimes they left you run by them on the sidewalk and don’t say anything to you, but sometimes an old lady taking out the trash as you run by will yell out with a broad smile, “Nice pace!” Or they will help you dig out your driveway after a foot of snow just because they happened to be walking by with a shovel. Or they send you flowers when your grandmother dies or write you cards when you break with your boyfriend. Or the local pharmacist who goes out of her way to get your prescriptions right and calls to check up on you when you’re having trouble with your health insurance. New England is a weird place and in many ways totally different from the Midwest, but there are good people there and good people here, too.
There’s something that happens when you have a nomadic childhood – you have a hard time telling people where you’re from, but you also make room in your heart for lots of different regions. I love the Midwest and I’ll always be Midwestern in my heart, but I’ve still got room in there for New England. It’s my home now.
The running community is the same. People can be competitive and dismissive. It happens in every community but people will literally pick you up if you fall or stand outside in 40 degrees to cheer on strangers. They volunteer to hand out water and give snacks during a long race. This is why my heart feels broken because this community is so amazing and so strong. To me, running is my escape and my mental health time. I work out a lot of issues in my life on a long run and I return – even if my legs are killing me or I felt sluggish or tired – with a clear head and a new outlook on the day.
My sister sent me this article and the author writes these words:
“And for so many of us who take to the roads, paths and trails, the essence of running is freedom; our freedom to step outside, stretch our legs and fly along the ground wherever we choose for as long as we please. It is a celebration of human ability and excellence. It is a struggle. It is a triumph.”
This attack will not take it away. I will still run and I know many others will, too.
So except more library-related posts next week, but for the next few days I’m going to keep running the race.