Each day we wake up, we are blessed with new possibilities. As a runner, I am routinely reminded of this blessing. With the simple act of lacing up my shoes, I am invited to consider what may be. What might appear to an average person as just another run may in fact be my fastest run yet, or my farthest run yet, or a run in a new place with new sights and sounds to enjoy. The simple act of training is to use each day as a building block toward a new possibility. Last year I trained hard for thirteen weeks, harder than I had ever trained before, for the possibility that my October half marathon would be my fastest yet. It was.
The events of the last week have forced me to stare long and hard at the possibilities I have been putting off, burying away for a time when they would be more attainable or would fit into my life with greater ease. Such reflection is inevitable at a time like this, and I imagine many in the running community have found themselves engaged in the same penetrating look inward.
The events in Boston have hit me harder than any tragedy since 9/11. I wish I knew why, how it could be put into words that I can explain that don’t seem, to me, callous and unrecognizing of other attacks and tragedies. The immediate first thought I had on Monday was that this attack, to a runner, was so unfair because Boston is Mount Everest for so many runners. Before I had ever committed to running seriously, I used to causally think to myself, “Boston, boy I’d like to run that someday.” That was before I understood the qualification process or the dedication, the true lifestyle commitment, that is the training to qualify for Boston.
The truth is, and I am ashamed to admit this, but the terror in Boston served as a wake up, an alarm that sounded and led me to rather selfishly say, “Thank you Lord, that you continue to give me the possibilities that I have put off.” This is selfish because, hidden in that relief is the reality that for Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, and Lu Lingzi, there are no more possibilities. For the wounded, the possibilities remain, but they are altered in ways large and small from what they were before. And there are victims, so many victims, who felt no physical harm, but will look over their shoulders for demons they had not previously feared but now know, far too intimately.
I have long dreamed of qualifying for Boston, knowing that such a feat will be a long slog, filled with highs and lows, advances and setbacks. I am experiencing one of those setbacks now, having given in to the reality that I will not be running my third straight Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon next month due to a persistent case of knee pain.
At this time last week, I was not considering a go at a marathon this fall. I have spent two years pushing that distance off into the hazy future. “One of these days,” I would mutter to myself. “One of these days.” But here I am, still open to the many possibilities available to me. Running a marathon, taking that first step toward qualifying for that great race which has been knocked down, but will stand up next year, stronger than ever, is no longer something I can afford to push back, or should push back.
I, and the rest of the running community, will run, we must run, because it is what we love, because it is what we crave, because there are those who no longer can. I will work, with everything I have, to run my first marathon this fall, not because it will be easy, or because I expect glory, but because in that grit and fatigue and soreness is a respect for those who are gone but left such vibrant lives behind.
I woke up today and could the possibilities before me. I promise to make the most of them.