I’ll confess that I’m still in shock and disbelief. I was riding the high from PR’ing the MORE Magazine Half Marathon on Sunday. As I sat in conference on Monday morning, I was obsessively following the Boston Marathon start via my Twitter feed. I was cheering on my current running heroes – Shalane and Kara – as they finished 4th and 6th in the Women’s race. And was excited to follow the progress of the slightly more human but still Rock Star friends who were running the race, including the 2 runners whose charitable fundraising efforts we supported. Between seeing patients in the office I would stop to check on Social Media for any updates from the people I knew. I was hardly prepared for 2 missed phone calls from people checking up on me because of the inconceivable news coming from the finish line.

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To me the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of running. While technically there are events like the Olympics where mere mortals will never run, Boston represents something potentially achievable. It also represents what makes running so different from most other sports. Your amateur 40 year old weekend warrior soccer player will never play in the World Cup. Even most professional baseball players will never play in the World Series. But amateur runners can run Boston, if they’re fast enough to qualify. For a slower runner like me Boston is a dream. It’s far enough from my current capabilities to be a pedestal while still being imaginable. The first half marathon I ran was 12:32 min/mile pace. My last (and fastest) race was at 11:07 min/mile pace. To qualify for Boston (at my age), I need to run 8:30 min/mile pace.

There is another way to run Boston if you aren’t fast enough (or even if you are). About 10% of the race bibs for Boston are reserved for runners who are fundraising for charity. There are about two dozen charities that are given spots. The catch is that the minimum amount raised must be $4000. That is not a cheap race entry fee! One of the many tragedies of yesterday’s bombing is that, as a group, the charity runners are not required to meet the time standards of the Boston Marathon. Since about 2/3rds of the runners had already finished, one must imagine that several of the runners in the vicinity were people running on behalf of a charity. (And don’t get me started on killing and injuring spectators…)

In the wake of this senseless violence, I have been heartened by the solidarity and kindness of the running community. I have also been amazed by the incredible support shown to me by my non-running family and friends. I’ve had many people checking on me to make sure I’m safe just because they know I like to run races (as if I’d be able to qualify for Boston but it’s gratifying to feel the love). It surprises me a bit when the World considers me a runner because I’m just starting to see myself that way but it’s clear that I am now a Runner. And I am SO proud to be a part of the running community!

I’m also proud to be part of the medical community at a time like this. Although I am obviously not able to directly help the injured in Boston, my colleagues are certainly making me proud. Being a surgeon is an amazing gift and it’s nice to be reminded sometimes that my profession is valuable.

So I am sad. And angry. And a little bit worried about how this will change racing and spectating.

But I’m also proud to be a runner and proud to be a surgeon. And I can see that Good is triumphing over Evil once again. We can’t erase evil from the world but we can certainly shine brighter with kindness.

My heart breaks for the lives lost and damaged by this act of evil. My prayers are with the people who were directly impacted this but also with all runners who continue to experience this is our hearts and souls.

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So although I would have said a few weeks ago that running the Boston Marathon has never really been a goal of mine, I feel differently now. I MUST run Boston some day (most likely for a charity although I’ll try my best to get fast enough to qualify). And I want to run the Boston Marathon to prove that light will always cast out darkness and that evil can never win.

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