I became a runner on April 15, 2013, the day two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Three friends who were running that day experienced the terror of being the target of a completely random, and deadly, act. First they were scared, then angry—but always resolute to keep on running. Helpless to change what happened to them that day, all I could think of to do was join them.
In my year of running I’ve learned a lot about resiliency.
My friends who were in Boston that day introduced me to a group of runners who may pause, or slow down for a stretch, but never quit. Chances are there is a group like them where you live. They run 13.1, 26.2, 50 and 100 miles at a stretch, through all the hours of the day and deep into the night. They run when temperatures are “zeroish” with their shoes full of icy slush. They run up hills so steep it would make more sense to crawl up them.
In other words, they are completely nuts.
They are also completely awesome. I’ve lived in Northern Colorado 45 of my 46 years, but I’ve never seen it up so close as I have running. It seems that nature saves her most quiet beauty for those who go slow.
I’ve come across a herd of deer at sunset in Lory State Park, marveled at the size of the snowflakes near the water’s edge at Horsetooth Reservoir and noticed the tiny buds of spring coloring the snow long before I would have on my bike or in my car.
The challenge of running is hard on your body, but soothing to your spirit and empowering to your mind.
Scott, who ran Boston last year and will be at the starting line tomorrow, started running after watching the Colorado Marathon in 2004.
“Watching those people giving everything they had made me realize two things,” he said. “First that I could do it too and secondly that I was witnessing something epic.”
I first tested myself in the heat of August at the Black Squirrel Half Marathon (gnarrunners.com/black-squirrel-half/) and then in a foot of snow at the 10-mile “Silent Trails” run in Southern Wyoming (highplainsharriers.org/silenttrails/). I felt such a sense of accomplishment at the finish line of both races that I forgot to check my time.
I often think of Boston on my runs. Instead of fearing that finish line, I’ve dreamed of crossing it. But to qualify you have to meet time requirements in another marathon before registration begins in mid-September. I applied to be a charity runner, but had underestimated just how many people were affected by last year’s bombings. For example The Childrens’ Hospital of Boston had more than 800 applicants to raise the $4,000 required to run on their 130-member team.
I’m going to Boston to cheer on the participants and then come home and run my own race on May 4. The Colorado Marathon (http://www.ftcollinsmarathon.com), dubbed “the nation’s most scenic marathon,” comes 17 miles down the Poudre Canyon before finishing in downtown Fort Collins. The Canyon, which saw flooding last fall and the High Park fire the summer before, is itself a beautiful example of resiliency.
January first I began running the 350 or so miles training for a marathon requires. And while my new sport has done wonders for my state of mind, my knees aren’t taking it quite as well. An orthopedic doctor recommended that my first marathon be my last. “One and done,” as runners like to say.
But whether or not this is the only marathon I ever run, this one’s for Boston.