I have close to 100 friends (both internet wide and not) that ran Boston yesterday. This Monday is always different in a runners heart. Watching dreams happen, goals achieved, hard work and mental toughness tested. For the morning I did just that, I watched and listened (ask my coworkers) as the majority of my friends ran PR’s, achieved their dreams and ran their hearts out. Even if you are a non-runner or don’t follow running closely, chances are you have heard of the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is the Gold Standard of distance running…one does not simply by fluke get there. Many people have tried to qualify for years, spent countless years, time, patience and ran other marathons…simply in hopes of running the Boston Marathon.
Imagine the gold standard race as a prestigious college, for ease we’ll say Harvard. You are a high school student who has dreamed of going to Harvard your entire life. You work hard at school, you maintain a near perfect GPA, spending countless hours studying and missing countless high school social events because of tests the next day. That isn’t good enough though and all while doing that you maintain a job and are in a couple of extracurricular clubs. You have a few friends, but most of them are your study partners and classmates with the same motives as yourself. You gave up prom because the SAT was the next morning and you wanted to get a full nights rest.
But come your senior year, you did it. Your hard work payed off. Four years of intense studying, missing social events and working has payed off. You have been accepted to Harvard. (in our case four years and you have qualified for the Boston).
You spend the summer preparing, laying out your schedule of how you’ll make time but still have fun in college. You have a perfect schedule layed out, enjoy the summer off from schooling but come September you dive right into the next phase of your life.
College (or in our case the actual training portion for Boston). College is rough, you are plagued with a hard first semester…you nearly give up and wonder if I can’t pass an entry level college course, how will I pass sophomore, junior and senior year? It’s a mental battle and you periodically question yourself. You continue to maintain your grades though now you are with other students who are competitive with you. As you train, you see that you will not be at the top of this race and you could graduate closer to the middle or the bottom. But. You will still graduate and cross that finish line.
Four years again go by and you are sitting at graduation. About half your class is with you…the other half didn’t make it this far. Injuries, poor GPA, mental struggle…it was not for them.
You are sitting alphabetical order at graduation and listening to the valedictorian, salutation, guest of honor and speeches. Waiting for your time to walk the line, receive your diploma and officially graduate. You’ve made it this far. Nothing can stop you.
Finally they say it. We will now start announcing the candidates to graduate.
And the race you have now trained 8 years for is off. You have begun a 26.2 mile journey that will test you physically, mentally and emotionally. Your eight years of training leads up to this.
Your last name starts with “M” so you listen as others are announced. The valedictorian is announced first and you see him receive his diploma and sit back down. All while you sit with anticipation.
Finally they are on graduating “I”s, now “J”s…K…L…It’s your turn now. You stand up and are walking towards the stage. You see the finish line and are smiling bigger than 1000 suns. It seems like you have been here for hours waiting…It’s all caught on video and your parents, friends and family are watching. You are finishing one of America’s most prestigious road races and your parents, friends, family could not be anymore proud.
You walk on stage and that is when it happens. Out of nowhere and without warning. An explosion. An explosion rocking our entire community. Your community. Your friends. Your family. Our crystal ball world.
In the coming minutes, the area is surrounded. Who would have done this? Why? How? Graduation has been cancelled and without warning, those who didn’t graduate don’t. They don’t get a second shot to graduate…even though (as yourself) spent the last 8 years preparing for this graduation…they don’t get the honor they deserve.
Those are the people that were stopped at mile 21, the ones that worked every bit as hard but never stepped on stage.
Then those who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Alphabetical order and your last name started with an L? You were walking off stage when the explosion occurred.
Your friends and family stationed near the stage.
Your friends and family who could not attend the graduation, wondering if you were okay but have no way of reaching or knowing for an hour or two…
My point is this, as a running community, a community in general, what happened yesterday is no short of a tragedy. An event so powerful to us, hit so hard. We have risen together. Though running brings us closer, this event has also brought us even closer. We have come together. Those training for a marathon, those training for a 5k..those training to lose weight. We stand strong together as runners and non…we are a community. Nothing will break us down and while this was a powerful reminder, Boston 2013, along with every single other Boston will never be forgotten.