This past week was the first full week of training I have done since the Little Rock Marathon. I have been suffering from a lack of motivation in recent weeks -- just not wanting to get out there and run (partly because I am SO tired of the cold weather and equally tired of running on the Treadmills at LifeTime). I ran five days during the week for over 30 miles, and it felt good to be back at it. Even better, was the realization that the chest cold I have been battling for the past two weeks appears to finally be out of my system so I can breathe without pain and coughing.
But this week, that effort meant more than just training. It was dedicated in honor of all of the spectators, runners, and volunteers who were affected by the horrific events during the Boston Marathon. I started on Tuesday running 5 miles with two friends as part of "Runners United to Remember". I decided to continue running during the week until I reached 26.2 miles. On Monday, my local running store is hosting a "Run as One" 5K to pay tribute to those affected on April 15th. I will be among those running and walking this special event.
It has been almost a week since the bombing, and I still find it hard to express how deeply that Monday afternoon has affected me. It was devastating, scary, evil, and it really hit me hard.
Part of that is because I knew so many friends who were running or volunteering at the race. People like Jon who was only two blocks from the Finish Line, my cousin Lauren who was a race volunteer near Mile 22, and a good friend who was there cheering on her friend who was coming up to the Finish Line when the first bomb exploded. I had dozens of fellow runners in the Marathon Maniacs and Road Runners running clubs (to which I belong) who were out there on the race course. I was desperate to get a hold of everyone, to find out if they were safe. To find out if they were alive. Thankfully, all of my friends and family were safe.
Another part was the thought that this could happen during any race. The thought that my wife and children have been at the Finish Line of other races was chilling. My recent race in Washington DC had family there at the Finish Line, right beside the Washington Monument. Up until this moment, I never thought about spectators or race participants being 'in harm's way' during a race event. It was so unsettling!
I am so thankful that the various law enforcement agencies -- the FBI, ATF, Homeland Security, and the Boston Police -- were able to marshal and coordinate the resources to locate and contain the two persons responsible for this tragedy. One person killed; one person captured. I have nothing but contempt for anyone who would do plan and execute such a terrible act. All I ask is for swift justice in light of the pain and suffering that they have caused. so many.
This weekend was the Virgin London Marathon, another Marathon Major race like Boston. It was heartening to see them have a moment of silence to recognize those affected in Boston, and to see so many American flags being held by those present. I had a good friend running that race, and I prayed for her safety. Thankfully, she finished the race successfully, as did all the runners today.
In two weeks, I will be running three races in Cincinnati Ohio -- The Flying Pig Marathon Weekend. I will be running the 5K and 10K on Saturday and then the Half Marathon on Sunday. I have a lot of friends who will be running right alongside me. Races are such fun experiences, shared with friends and colleagues. We celebrate each others accomplishments, and we treasure our common fellowship. I will not allow fear to stop me from living and from engaging in activities that I enjoy and help define who I am and what I value. I will not allow terrorism to deter me from my life.
That is not to say that I am not a little afraid, or that I will not be more watchful and careful. We all need to be more situationally aware of our surroundings. And as runners, we need to continue to support one another, and stand united. I expect that security logistics will be tightened at future races. What that will look like, and how it will impact runners, volunteers, and spectators is unknown at this time. But if it will help ensure our safety, then I guess we will accept the added inconvenience.
But the reality is that it is impossible to protect 26.2 miles of a race course. Protecting the Start and Finish Lines will be difficult but possible. But races by default are very open spaces, so securing those spaces will be no easy task. But then, the risk of an incident during a race is no worse than choosing to go to a shopping mall, a movie theater, or a sporting event at a stadium. I refuse to live like a hermit. I choose to put my trust in our law enforcement and investigatory services to do their job well. And I will do what I can to be aware of my surroundings, and keep my family and friends safe.
See you all on the race course. Let's continue to celebrate life. Let's be Boston Strong!