I once had a running friend tell me, “I’ve never met a runner I don’t like.” And as I thought about his statement, I agreed with him. It’s always an instant connection – “oh you run? Me too!” In fact, the majority of my friends are runners and the majority of runners I’ve met, I’d like to be my friend.
Maybe it’s the many solo hours spent on the road letting our minds clear and release stress, that makes runners more thoughtful.
Maybe it’s the bond formed on long runs as we share our heartaches, struggles, joys, that makes runners better friends.
Maybe it’s the common suffering we’ve all felt when pushing ourselves to the limit, both physically and mentally, to reach a PR, that makes runners more empathetic.
Maybe it’s the embarrassing moments we’ve all had on group runs (including for some people, the runs) that makes runners more understanding and able to laugh at themselves.
Maybe it’s the drive and determination we’ve all felt when training for a goal that makes runners resilient and hard-working.
Maybe it’s the heartache we’ve felt when we missed our goal by just-this-much that makes compassionate.
Maybe it’s the joy we’ve all felt when we accomplished a goal that makes runners more encouraging and able to celebrate others’ successes.
So it’s probably all of these reasons that the tragedy in Boston today has rattled me more than I can express. Yes, I had a few friends on the race course. My mom, a close friend and I were (are) all training to qualify for Boston so we can run it together next year. There are the thoughts that “it could have been me, it could have been my best friend…” But even beyond the personal connections and the could-have-beens, I’m devastated and hurting for all the runners, volunteers, and supporters I don’t know. For the lives that were ended. And other lives, changed forever. I sat transfixed staring at the news when I first heard, constantly checked my twitter stream for updates. And when I went to my car to drive home, the tears started and haven’t much subsided.
I suppose it’s because I felt like today my safe haven, my community, a part of my very identity was attacked and wounded. My running friends, known and unknown, were impacted by this horrific event on what was/IS an enormously important, significant day for them. It’s just incomprehensible to me.
So the point in this post? I suppose I needed to get out my heartache and to share for runners everywhere that I’m grateful for our community. For the connections I’ve made with other runners, to whatever small or large degree. Grateful that we can share our thoughts, our friendship, our empathy, and compassion as we grieve.
In short, I’m grateful for the running community, near and far. And my heart aches along with you.