Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston 2013

In the fall of 2006 my best friend Megan had the hair brained idea that we needed to get out of the house and do some sort of activity through our city's Spectrum magazine.  A magazine that offered activities ranging from cooking to martial arts to language studies.  We had tried to sign up for cooking classes but they were full.  The year before we did aerobics and dance classes but we sucked at it so she suggested a "learn to run" program.  I told her, I don't run, fat chicks don't run.  But, because I knew I needed an activity and wanted to hang out a couple of times a week, I reluctantly signed up with her.

I remember the pivotal moment very clearly.

We had attended biweekly lectures on running form, socks, and nutrition.  We had been taught and mastered the run/walk method.   We had pushed ourselves to the classes when we were so tired after teaching all day and kept going even when we both learned that we were not natural born runners.

Our group had met at Springbank park for a 5km run on an October morning.  We were jogging along with the group and were pushing our way back to where we had started after finishing a loop.  Lots of runners were passing us, dogs were barking and sniffing everywhere, bikes and strollers were exploring when I clearly remember seeing it.

In front of us, like a beacon, was a tall, thin guy walking with his family.  Since our running group was all ladies, everyone was chatting and not paying attention to much of anything, but I saw it.  I can see it in my mind so vividly.  As we approached the man I knew what he was wearing.  I knew the logo, colours, and meaning underneath the blue, white, and yellow jacket.  It was a jacket that only special people earned.  Special people who were runners, but not just any kind of runner, a marathon runner.  Not just any kind of marathon runner, but a Boston Marathon runner, and not just any Boston Marathon runner, but a Boston finisher.

As we approached the man from behind I remember saying to Megan, look, look at the jacket, it is a sign for us.  It is a sign that we will run a marathon some day.  She laughed and laughed because we had just suffered through a 5km.  As we got closer to the man I remember he looked so large and proud.  I remember him talking with his family and he looked so good in his jacket.  Then in a moment of some sort of running hysteria, I remember I reached out and touched him.  I remember that as we were passing him I rubbed my hands on his back touching the logo.  He quickly turned around and wondered if he felt something but I had moved to the other side of the path to pass him and his family.  I remember I looked back 25 meters later and said to myself I will run a marathon some day.

3.5 marathons later (I call cancelled NYC my .5) I am deeply sadden by the events in Boston today. I am sadden because most of the injured are spectators.

If you have ever been married to, lived with, or loved a marathon runner you know the sacrifice YOU have to make to support your runner. You wake up at a ridiculous hour to see them off for their long runs. You buy gallons and gallons of Gatorade at Costco only to be sent back for only the purple kind. You worry when they are limping that they have injured themselves. You listen for hours about running, racing, and chaffing. You watch as they miss parties, go to bed early, and try to eat well during training. And you stand for hours as they attempt to run a 'personal best' that will or won't come, and then you endure the months of reflection on what went well and what they could of done better to gain 1 minute.

I have watched in awe for years the Boston Marathon and yesterday was no different.  I set up my computer at work to have the broadcast live, sent messages and tweets to my favourite runners and running buds, and announced to my department as the race was progressing.  I cried as the finishers crossed the line in amazing feats of athletic prowess. 

The Boston Marathon is special, it saved me from deep depression when I got cancer. I watched the race live from home when I recovered from surgery and set goals to return to marathon running when all that crap was behind me. This marathon is magical to everyone, runner or non runner, marathon runner or non marathon runner. Even if we never have the opportunity to run it, it is annual sporting event that earned everyone's respect.

The people who died or are seriously injured in Boston are those people who have stood by their runners and supported them through the brutality of marathon training.  Up to 19 weeks of pain and suffering, and hours and hours of difficult support...and they don't earn a jacket.  Thank you supporters and spectators for your sacrifices so we can earn ours.