The tragic events of Patriot’s Day at the Boston Marathon have hit home for so many people. It was an act of terrorism, and of cowardice, directed at innocent civilians at a celebratory event. I don’t know if it is hitting me so hard because I used to live in New England for 11 years and have always had family and friends there as long as I can remember, if it is because I am a runner (albeit a slow one, but I do it), or if it is because of the continuing stream of shock and awe we are exposed to these days.
I remember exactly where I was on September 11th. Sitting at home in my room on my day off, I was in a Yahoo trivia chatroom and someone announced the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. I turned the tv on just in time to see the second plane hit. For me, this was a jarring occurrence. Yes, I was in high school and remember too well the bombing in Oklahoma City, but this was different. New York City to us and often to the world acts as a symbolic home for our country. They hit us where it hurt more than ever before. This is not to dismiss Pearl Harbor, or OKC, or any other previous tragedies, but only to say this was in a place where more people travel and live on a daily basis and more people know.
For whatever reason, I feel even more connected to the attack on the Boston Marathon. It could be because I didn’t really know anyone immediately impacted by 9/11 at the time it happened. Not so much with Boston. I know literally dozens upon dozens of former classmates from elementary, middle, high school and college who live in and around the city. Newer friends in the Disney community, as well as friends from here in Florida currently attending college in Boston. This was a place where I traveled often to during my formative years.
I used to live about 20 minutes outside of Boston in Wellesley and would hop on the green line of the T and head into the city to explore the Aquarium, Children’s Museum, Science Musuem, Museum of Fine Arts, catch a Red Sox game, go to Fanueil Hall to go shopping. The cultural experiences, the food and the people of Boston are fantastic. I miss having that richness at my fingertips and someone tried to shatter the innocence of my memories of childhood yesterday. I had friends who were across the street from the second explosion only a couple hours before and decided to move a mile away. Another friend who had previously competed was running late with his family and didn’t make it to cheer. Other friends were nearby, but thankfully escaped the horror.
I can only imagine the 8 year old boy who was killed in the attack as he watched his dad cross the finish line just minutes before. The training and preparation that goes into running, even just 5Ks, is a commitment of body, mind and soul. To come so close to accomplishing for many a lifelong dream by finishing the Boston Marathon and to have that hard work destroyed by a villainous act is disgusting.
Having only been a “runner” for the past three years, I know the ups and downs of race preparations, cheering, travel and that amazing feeling of setting a goal and reaching it. My goal to start out was simple, to run a 5K two years after I had major knee surgery. With the encouragement of friends on twitter and facebook, I attained that first medal (okay, made of rubbery plastic, but still) in October of 2010. I didn’t die. I finished upright and under my own power, my only two goals for that first race. In 2011, I decided I would do all of the 5Ks that Walt Disney World had to offer, and I did that too, even a couple not knowing I had bronchitis at the time. 2012 I slacked off a bit, only completing on race in May.
This year is going to be different. I already did one 5K in February, but this is the year I am going to step it up and out of my comfort zone. Do I think I will ever run a marathon? I don’t know. I never had a desire to before the events of this week. Am I going to do my best to continue to improve to honor all of those runners out there who weren’t able to finish? You bet you ass I am! I have already signed up for my first 10K, Beach2Beacon, one of the largest races in New England behind the Boston Marathon. It seems only fitting. In January, I am also registered for the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K during marathon weekend.
The bastards who did this will not keep us from participating in races. If nothing else, they will motivate even more of us to get out there and to run and cheer in spite of their actions. We are a strong and resilient nation of people who will come together to support each other through our darkest moments and we will come out even tougher despite this.
I’m sure I will probably cram some other races in there too, and eventually would like to complete the Princess Half Marathon at WDW in February, but we will see if 2014 is that year. There are a lot of miles down the road, and each one of them will be dedicated to Boston, all the runners out there, and in the continued American spirit to not let these terrorists, whether foreign grown or domestic keep us down. We will always keep moving forward! I hope you all will keep those affected by this directly and indirectly in your thoughts and will do what you can to help by either giving blood regularly, donating to the Red Cross, or even signing up for a charity race. Do good to show the bad guys out there they will never win!
By the way, I’m wanting to start a new playlist with Boston themed songs and would appreciate any suggestions. I’ve already got Dirty Water by the Standells (from which the title of the post comes), Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, Boston by Augustana and then maybe some songs from Aerosmith, Boston, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Let me know if you’ve got any other ideas as I’d like to add these to my running mix. Thanks!