It’s almost 24 hours after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon. I’ve spent this time reading about the heroes who emerged immediately. I’ve spent very little time reading about or watching videos of the explosion. I’ve spent this time reading online newspapers and blogs written by runners. They understand the runner’s perspective on this event. So much of what I read is similar to my thoughts that I wondered if I could come up with anything unique to say. While the running community has many things in common, I hope to be able to share my perspective with you.
I was in New York City when they announced the marathon was cancelled. I spent some time being angry and frustrated, but I got over that quickly and became a typical Midwestern tourist for the rest of my trip. What got to me, though, was how non-runners were so angry at us for being disappointed, or for not going to Staten Island and helping with the relief efforts. There were many people who were pissed that thousands of runners showed up in Central Park on Sunday and ran anyway. How could the runners be so heartless when so many people were without power or shelter or food? What they didn’t know was, we were told to stay away from Staten Island because they had too many “helpers” there already. What they didn’t know, or couldn’t understand was, runners of the world unite unlike any other sport. I went to Central Park and witnessed runners from across the world joining together to organize their own marathon. While tragedy stopped the official marathon, it did not stop the runners. The running community came together as one. This community made my disappointment dissolve the moment I saw them there.
Yes, but New York was an “Act of God,” right? Boston is different, right? In many ways, yes, but the response from the running community is the same. Instead of a major weather event, it was a major lunatic who stopped the race. Whoever did this stopped the race, but not the runners. There are stories of runners helping the injured. There are stories of runners going past the finish line and continuing to run until they got to the hospital so they could donate blood. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know how physically difficult that was for them. They had to use their heart to keep running after the finish line. That’s the only way.
What happened to the people who were stopped on the course? I can identify with them because their dream marathon was cut short. I train for marathons all the time. I run even when it’s an “off-season” because I can’t stop running! I run at least two marathons a year and usually around five half-marathons a year. It’s the same training cycle with each marathon. I spend 12 weeks ramping up the miles by running at 7:00 AM on Saturdays, as well as every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not complaining – I love it! As race day approaches, I’m forced to cut back on my miles so I can recover. The lack of running, and the growing anticipation of race day, drives me (and Alana) crazy!
Being at the starting line is the second happiest part of a marathon. It’s pure joy being out there with old friends, new friends, and running friends I’ll meet on the course. The next 26 miles are a blur of gels, hydration, electrolyte depletion, strangers cheering, kids wanting high-fives, runners passing me going uphill and me passing them going downhill. The last two-tenths of the marathon is the best part of any marathon I’ve run. Everyone is cheering you on. People are on the sidelines waiting for a loved one to come down that finish line chute, but they cheer you on anyway. Or at least it feels that way to me. I cross the finish line and, despite the cramping and other pain, I celebrate my accomplishment while limping to find Alana. I limp to find my running team friends, take pictures, and re-hydrate with a beer later in the day. I need this post-marathon routine almost as much as I need to run! The people on the sidelines need to cheer and share in the joy of the finish line almost as much as we need to run.
So what does this have to do with Boston? The bomber attacked the marathon by attacking the friends and family on the sidelines. When they attack our friends and family, they attack us! I shared my marathon running perspective with you so you could understand how important it is to me. I’m not alone in this feeling. I don’t just run with a community of runners, I run in a family of runners. My family just happens to live all over the world and I see them twice a year (or more). The reason I know it’s my family is because we are all thinking the same thing about this tragedy. The lunatic wanted to stop a marathon and kill as many people as possible in the process. He, or they, succeeded in the short run. But, within 24 hours, the marathon family came together to decide that this senseless act of god will not stop us. We will keep running. We will run today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured yesterday. We will run tomorrow and the next day, and we will show up for the next major marathon (Flying Pig for me) without fear and with a renewed purpose. Our purpose will be to show the people responsible for Boston, and anyone else who thinks violence can control us, that we cannot be controlled or stopped. All you did when you set your bomb was to run away. We run for ourselves. We run for our loved ones. We run for our team. We run for our running family. We run toward hope. We run.
- Boston. (trexrunner.com)
- Boston Heartbreak (jeffpearlman.com)
- Reporter’s Notebook: A Marathon Now Tinged With Tragedy (wbur.org)
As you must all be aware by now, the New York City Marathon, the marathon of my dreams, was cancelled last week. You might think I’d be supremely disappointed. I was, but I made the most of the situation and ended up having a fantastic time in the City!
Alana and I flew in on Friday morning. We weren’t even sure the flights would be landing at LaGuardia considering it was under water a few days ago! Everything went off without a problem and we made it easily into the city to check into our hotel. I don’t know if every hotel room in NYC is small, but our room was SMALL! (How small was it?!?!?) It was so small, we had to give up the bathroom privacy we have at home. While we’re at home, doors are closed, fans are turned on, noises are muted. In the hotel, every tinkle echoed through the room! The cool thing about the room was that with a push of a button, the bed slid up the wall into a modified couch. It was like having our very own Craftmatic Adjustable Bed!
After checking in, we walked to the marathon expo. This is where you pick up your race bib, timing chip, and free marathon t-shirt. That’s the easy part. You can’t leave the expo until you weave your way through all the vendors selling souvenir shirts, jackets, hats, shot glasses, gloves, you name it, they sell it. I spent a lot of money on my souvenirs because you only do the NYC Marathon once, right?
We then tried to find some dinner. You would think it would be easy to find a great restaurant in NYC. However, we were with our friend and fellow runner, Gina. Finding a restaurant that all three of us agreed on was the hard part! We walked up to a restaurant, read the menu in the window and said, “meh, let’s keep walking.” We found ourselves nearing Times Square when Alana and Gina started getting text messages saying the marathon was cancelled! My friends suck because no one texted me! I found out later that I received a ton of sympathy from my friends on facebook, so it’s all good. We didn’t believe the news at first. The websites we looked at weren’t updated in real time, so they didn’t have the info. Finally, we had enough confirmation to digest the fact that the marathon was really cancelled. We spent the entire dinner looking at our phones and texting people. The cancellation was soaking into my reality now. After the anticipation that started in April when I found out I was in, I now knew I had to wait another year.
So what would you do if you were in my running shoes? I’ll tell you what I did – we stayed and had a blast! Now that I knew I wouldn’t be running a marathon on Sunday, I used Saturday to explore Midtown Manhattan. I walked from our hotel at the corner of 10th Ave and 42nd Street to the Empire State Building and back again. I walked from the hotel to The Late Show With David Letterman studio. When I got there, the doors were open and they were taking lottery applications for Monday’s taping. I thought, “I made the NYC Marathon by lottery drawing, so maybe I’ll be lucky again.” They took my application and told me they’d call me on Sunday. I got the call and we made it into the taping! That experience is an entire blog entry all by itself, so stay tuned.
Sunday morning, Gina and I ran from the hotel to Central Park. We ran nearly 8 miles before we saw that the mile markers were still up in the Park. We ran from mile 25 to the finish line and took a few pictures. It was a sad sight to see what might have been. We ran back to the entrance to the park and saw large groups of people preparing to run their own marathon in the park. The original NYC marathon was four laps around Central Park. So, 100s of people were getting ready to do the “Run Anyway Marathon.” We soaked in the energy and headed back toward the hotel. I ended up running 10 miles, so I was kind of a slacker. I showered and headed back to Central Park to take pictures and video of the runners.
There were people on facebook who thought the runners should have gone to Staten Island to help with the recovery effort. I disagreed. I saw people from Mexico, France, Russia, and I don’t know how many other countries running together in the Park. I saw small crowds of people near the finish line cheering on the runners. I saw the world community coming together to make the most of a bad situation. Running is therapeutic to me on a regular day. Coming from Ohio was no big deal. I’ll come back and run it next year. If I came as far as they did, I would make sure to run in NYC as much as I could! If you feel guilty about not helping, do what we did and send money to the Red Cross. Run long, run free, run happy!
- Despite nixed NYC Marathon, runners run anyway – and offer aid – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- Runners disappointed and frustrated by late cancellation of ING NYC Marathon (charlotte.news14.com)
- Marathoners Run 26.2 Miles Despite Cancellation Of NYC Marathon; Others Volunteer On Staten Island (newyork.cbslocal.com)
Today was my first day of Boot Camp since the days of Army Boot Camp when I was 18 years old. This boot camp differs from the Army in many ways – I get to wear running shoes instead of boots, there isn’t a drill instructor screaming at me to “drop and give him 20″ (push-ups) every time I screwed up, and I don’t have an M-16. By the end of this morning’s boot camp, I really wanted the M-16!
To prepare for this boot camp, the instructor e-mailed everything I needed to know. I would need to bring a mat, a towel, some water, and some weights. I messaged back asking how heavy the weights were supposed to be and she suggested two 8 pounds and two 12 pound dumbbells. My ego told me I should just get two 10 pounders and two 15 pounders. My ego is an asshole! When I’m at the gym, I get to pick a weight off the rack, lift it, and put it back. I can handle more weight that way and I don’t have to carry it home. For boot camp, I had a gym bag filled with a total of 50 pounds of weight! Getting the bag to the car was enough of a workout to make me want to go back to bed. Then I found out that the workout was down two flights of stairs! Fuck you, Ego!
The workout began easily enough. It was in a school gym and we had to jog five laps around the court to warm up. I can run marathons, so running five laps was child’s play! We then proceeded to run suicides, which involves running to a line on the court, bending down and touching the line, running back to the start, then going to the next line, touching it, back to the start, etc, until you have run to the other end of the court and back again. I may have been sweating at the end of this exercise.
Then it was time to use the weights. Using the heavy weights, we were to put one foot forward and do a lunge while simultaneously doing arm curls. After a few minutes of that, we got to switch legs and do it again. I was unable to figure out at this point how to switch arms, so I was still doing arm curls with the same arms! Now, with my arms tired, we were to hold a plank for a minute or so. Just when I thought that was enough, we had to go from one side of the court to the other on all fours in what can only be described as the Mowgli. Imagine how Mowgli was walking when he was in the jungle and then imagine a 51 year old, slightly overweight, man doing the same move. It wasn’t pretty! By the time I was half-way across, I had to stop for a moment just so I could survive! I made it across and back just in time for the instructor to tell us to do it again! My knees may have touched the floor once or twice by this time.
Now it was time for us to do squats while lifting the lighter weights overhead as we stood up from our squat. At this time, I mentally returned the 15 pound weights to the store and never touched them again! With no rest, it was time to go back across the gym by first getting into a push-up position and going sideways like a crab to the other side. This time, I know for a fact my knees hit the floor! My shoes were squeaking every time my feet hit the puddle of sweat I left on the floor. I left an impressive snail trail. (I dare you to look that up on Urban Dictionary)
The morning began promptly at 5:30 AM and was supposed to end at 6:15. When she told us to do one more exercise at 6:15, she was very lucky I was without my M-16! Somehow, I managed to finish the final exercise, put the weights back into the gym bag, get back up the stairs and to the car without dying. The bag is still in the car and will remain there until I return those damn weights! The most insulting part about all this is hearing the “ding, ding, ding” you hear when the car thinks there’s someone in the passenger seat without a seat belt. I had to put a god damned seat belt on my gym bag! I hate you, Ego!