Last year I decided to take the year off from racing your streets. Instead, I opted to run the Napa Valley marathon for its net downhill course and copious amounts of wine offered at the finish. As of April 14, 2013, I was a retired marathoner. The long distance never quite suited my 800 meter legs and I absolutely despise all GU’s, gooze and Goo’s. But on April 15, “never” became “next year” and “won’t” became “will.”
This letter is not what you think. I knew no one injured in last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. None of my friends lost their lives that day. None of my family members lost a limb, lost blood, or even lost their balance. But not everyone was as lucky as me. Two Hundred and Sixty Four innocent people were injured when the bombs exploded. Three died. A full year may have passed, but the survivors still fight every day to overcome physical hurdles, stifle their fear, and continue moving forward. Watching the city I call home unite and support one another in the days after this tragedy from my new home 3,000 miles away was both heartwarming and torturous. The West coast love was powerful as they projected BOSTON STRONG on all public transportation vehicles for months after. They organized races, used social media to send messages of sympathy, and held numerous fundraisers for the survivors and their families. Yet, even with this outpouring generosity, I still felt a gapping hole from this shear act of terror. Boston is one of the most beloved cities in the world, but only the people who have lived there truly know the fortitude built in those cobblestone sidewalks. Only Bostonians really know what it’s like to walk outside on a 15 degree winter day and get smacked in the face with a 40 mph head wind…and keep on walking. Only Bostonians know that chill down your spine you feel when you hear the crack of a bat followed by a roar of applause from Fenway Park on a warm Summer night. Only Bostonians know that the street meat on Landsdowne street is even better than some 5 course meals. Only Bostonians know the absolute magic of Marathon Monday, and how in one quick motion of pure evil, someone attempted to take it away from us.
But they failed.
This year I will be one of the 36,000 runners out there honoring both the victims and survivors of last year’s attack. But rather than checking my watch for mile splits, instead you may notice me stopping at mile 10 to thank the water station volunteers on that long stretch of sunny asphalt. Or on mile 18 to dance and hug my November Project tribe. Or on mile 26.19 to take a moment to remember those we have lost, and those who are still working every day to regain the normalcy we so often take for granted. Boston, I have watched with incredible pride as you resurrected from the ashes, stood as one against terror, and emerged on the other side, stronger than ever before. And on April 21, 2014, Marathon Monday will return to the calendar again as one of the most joyous days of the year, with the worst of our days behind us.
With your head held high and your feet swift below, I wish all my runners the race of their life. May you be quick, may you be powerful, may you be strong. Boston Strong.