In the last (roughly) 24 hours, I've experienced a lot of feelings... Extreme sadness over the news of a tragedy; then anger. Last night as I was reading various posts on Facebook I started to feel strong. Runners from all over the World have been brought together by a tragic event. It's bittersweet... It's awesome knowing how much of a family we really are. I always felt that sense among other runners but wasn't sure if many other people did. The last 24 hours confirmed it... I'm not the only one who feels that bond.
Runners are people who are drawn together over a common interest. It doesn't matter how fast or slow someone is, we're there to help one another by sharing encouragement and motivation. I've seen my share of finishers walk back along race routes to encourage those of us who weren't finished yet. On out and back runs, I've received high fives from faster runners; and given them to slower runners. If someone falls, we help them up.
The bond that we share is nothing less than amazing.
Then there's the bond between us (runners) and spectators; the people who were hurt yesterday. Some of them may have been there supporting friends and family. Some may have been there supporting strangers. Or maybe a mix. Spectators are so important to runners... They are the people who carry us through. We read your signs. We feel the warmth of your smiles. We appreciate your cheers. Without spectators, I don't know that I could've finished my first half marathon.
I still remember exactly what the girl holding the sign that said "if it were easy I'd do it." She had reddish hair and wore it in braided pigtails. I don't know if I"ll ever forget her. I remember running up the last stretch of Monster Dash last fall and reading a sign that said "don't stop, people are watching." These quotes are all over, but when you're running a race they mean a lot more than when you read them on the Internet.
I've thought a lot about how running a race just wouldn't be the same without the spectators. I hope that yesterday's tragedy doesn't stop them from supporting us. We need you.
A friend posted this blog link on Facebook this afternoon. What the writer says, I couldn't have said better myself. I understand and agree with what she writes about... It's the true feelings of someone who is passionate about this sport. I especially like who she describes the behaviors of runners leading up to a race - it is so, so true. Those of you who stand by us throughout it all are simply amazing.
Yesterday I was in a crappy mood. I was upset, annoyed, feeling insecure, depressed, and anxious. I thought I was having a terrible day. Then I heard the news of the bombings and I was sad. My day wasn't so bad anymore. My "stuff" wasn't life threatening. It wasn't even life altering. It was totally insignificant compared to this. Very, very sad. I cried on and off all evening. I cried for runners, spectators, race officials, volunteers, emergency personnel, the city of Boston, runners and spectators everywhere... Those who do 5Ks to those who do Ultras. I cried for anyone that this impacted in some way; no matter how small.
All day today I've felt a huge connection the the running community. I wore a race t-shirt to support the movement of runners uniting. I printed out a graphic that shows support and pinned it to my running shirt. I ran for myself. I ran for other runners and spectators everywhere. I ran for Boston.
My daily worries didn't stand in my way of having a fairly decent day. They just didn't matter that much. There are people who are living in the aftermath of a tragedy. Instead of feeling stressed, I've decided to feel strong. And proud... Proud of myself, proud of all runners and supporters/spectators, and mostly proud of how the running community came together to share their support. I can't explain the feeling that I get knowing what an awesome community this is... Runners, spectators, and those who put so much work into providing us with race opportunities.
A good friend and I are running a race this weekend. We will be running for Boston.