Tag Archives: boston

Community

community

Com·mu·ni·ty \kə-ˈmyü-nət-ē\:  a unified body of individuals
–         Merriam Webster Dictionary

The more I get into running, the more I realize what a community we runners really are.  And these last few weeks have driven that point home for me more than ever before.

First of all, of course, there was the Boston marathon bombing.  Have any of us ever seen such an outpouring of love and respect among our fellow runners?  So many runners donned their printed out “bibs” in honor of Boston and logged mile after mile in honor of all who were affected.  Each and every one of us knew how easily it could have been us.  I have never witnessed the Boston marathon, but I did travel with a group of friends to watch the Wineglass Marathon in New York last year.  The place I was camped out to get pictures of my friends as they finished, was exactly the spot where the bombs went off in Boston.  It easily could have been me.  Or someone I love.  And every runner feels the same.  We are empathetic towards our fellow runners and their families because it hits so close to home.  We don’t know what to do to help, so we run.  We run in honor and respect for the members of our community, whether we “know” them or not.  They are our family.

And on that same note, I have made a few dear friends through running whom I have yet to even lay eyes on.

When I first started running a little over a year ago, I used the Couch to 5K Running plan to get started.  I then “liked” the Facebook page of the same name so I could watch other people through their struggles and successes to know that I was not alone.  Before long, I began posting as well, sharing my own stories and milestones.  It quickly became my primary source for motivation and inspiration and is, without a doubt, the reason I stuck to the plan and was successful.  On this site, I interacted with many people, but a few in particular stood out.  One of whom is my friend, Connie.  Connie was a non-runner who was determined to run a 5K for her 60th birthday.  I was inspired by her story, so I followed her closely and soon began to chat back and forth since we were at the same point in the plan.  We “graduated” almost simultaneously, together with our other e-friend Kristen, and have since all remained close friends and fellow runners.  We are even making plans to all meet in Rhode Island to run a 5K together in the fall.  (Kristen is from Massachusetts, Connie from Rhode Island, and I am from Virginia).

Yesterday, I went to my mailbox and found this:

shirt

A gift from Connie.  A running t-shirt that says “EyeBeeLeaf.”  The note says:

“We believe anything is possible.
  We work hard to achieve our goals.
  Here’s a gift from Connie to wear when you run.
  Eye Bee Leaf.”

How amazing is it that this friend, whom I have never even met, cares enough about me and about running in general to so generously reach out and provide support to another runner?  This truly is a community.  A family.  And it was no coincidence that this shirt arrived just a few days before my first half marathon that is coming up on Saturday.  As my friend Connie likes to say, “It’s Kismet!”

I so can’t wait to meet my friends in person in September!

And while we’re on the subject, check out this message I received on my last blog entry about my fear of this upcoming half marathon:

“Good luck! From Melbourne, Australia!
I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your writing. I found you when I was searching running blogs as I’m a new runner myself and totally obsessed. You write so evocatively and thoughtfully, and I often find myself smiling or nodding along to your musings! Best of luck with your half, you’ll smash it!
Warm regards, Zoë “

Wow.  Just wow. 🙂  All the way across the world, in Australia, is another member of my “community.”  And I didn’t even know about her until today.

I also received this message from my local friend Shannon this morning with regard to this half marathon:

“There will be a great adrenalin rush in the beginning, but remember to pace yourself and run your race.
There will be people who pass you and you’ll feel you are not doing good enough, but pace yourself and run your race.
You will worry that you won’t be able to finish at some point, but just keep going at your pace and run YOUR race.
There will come a time when you will think “I got this!”  But still pace yourself…and run your race!
It’s a lot like life.”

I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing her poetic words.  They were too good to keep to myself.

So, see what I mean?  We are such a caring community of runners.  Such a family of like-minded individuals from all over, who all know what it is like to change our life one footstep at a time.  I’m so honored and humbled to be a part of such an amazing group of people.

I am a runner.

***

“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week.  It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”  
– Richard O’Brien

Problems?

“The huge problems we deal with every day are actually really small. We’re so focused on what bothers us
that we don’t even try to see our lives from a clearer perspective.”
– Susane Colasanti

problemsblog

I saw the above picture on Facebook yesterday.  The “someecards” are meant to be funny usually.  But every now and then, one pops up that is spot freakin’ on.

(I don’t mean to be snarky with this blog, but if the snark slips out, so be it.)

We humans sure are a bunch of complainers aren’t we?  Don’t believe me?  Go scroll through your Facebook for a minute or two.  Seriously.  Go right now and scroll.  I’ll bet you $100 and a Snickers that you’ll see someone complaining about something.  I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it myself at times.  I am.  But some people just seem to be pros.  For real.

“The people who live in a golden age usually go around complaining about how yellow everything looks.”
– Randall Jarrell

How much truth there is in that quote.  Sometimes I think we just forget to realize how incredibly blessed we are.  And this week is one of those weeks that should drive that point home for you.  And if it hasn’t yet, then maybe it should start now.  Ask yourself a few questions.  For instance – Are your limbs still intact?  Are your loved ones still around you?  Do you still have a place to work?  To live?  Have you gone through the week without being a firsthand eye-witness to a bloody, fiery trauma?

If your answer is yes to those questions, then I’d say you’re in pretty good shape.

Now, I’m not saying people are sick of hearing you complaining.  Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t.  Hey, it’s your life – it’s your Facebook – it’s your soapbox.  Do what you will.  You’re allowed.  But, that’s not my point.

My point is that for you – for your own well-being and your own peace of mind – you should probably stop complaining about things that, in the grand scheme, are really not that big of a deal.  And you know they’re not.  It’s really hard to find peace within yourself if you’re constantly in turmoil.  And that’s what complaining is.  It’s turmoil.  Give yourself (and – ok, I’ll say it – everyone else) a break, why don’t ya?  Chill out.  Relax.  Be calm.  Recognize.

Look around you.  See what others have been through in our country in this one little week.  One week filled with so much devastation.  Fall down on your knees and be grateful and appreciative.  Go hug your kids.  Go kiss your spouse.  Go pet your dog.  Take a big, deep breath and exhale gratitude.

***

“Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful.  If you are blaming, you are not being grateful.  If you are complaining, you are not being grateful.”
– Rhonda Byrne

And still.

bostonpic

And still.

The week goes on.  New horrible news has filled the TV screen.  We go back to work.  We continue with our daily lives and go back to the way things were before we heard about it.

And still.

I continue to blog.  I continue to write on other topics.  But still it sits there.  Waiting for more to be said.  More to be done.  But what?  What can we do?  What can we say?

And still.

Still the thoughts won’t go away.  Won’t leave my mind.  Something is begging to be said.  But I have no idea what it is.

My thoughts keep going back to Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to ever officially run the Boston Marathon.  (Other women ran, but weren’t allowed bib numbers to show that they were “official” runners and to have their results included among the male runners.  Kathrine registered using her initials only and was given a bib number.  Once the “mistake” was discovered, race officials stormed the track and tried to remove her numbers, but other male racers formed a barrier around her and her boyfriend shoved them away.)  Kathrine is quoted as saying this: 

“If you lose faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.”

On Monday when I first heard the news, that quote immediately popped into my mind.  And I didn’t want that quote to be tainted by having it discovered that the bombing was intentional.  But, of course, it was confirmed that it was no accident.  Someone did this on purpose.  On purpose. 

And still.

Still, that quote was there.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  But doesn’t this event erase that quote?  Shouldn’t what happened serve to prove that humanity is somehow tainted now and Ms. Switzer’s words no longer stand true?

No.

No, it does not.

I have struggled so much with this.  And I’ve finally figured out why that quote doesn’t want to leave my mind.

It’s still true.

“If you lose faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.”  Yes.  Watch the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.  Watch what happened surrounding the horrible, unfathomable bombing that took place at the finish line.  Watch how people immediately responded and started helping each other.  Watch how perfect strangers lifted each other off the ground and carried each other where further help awaited.  Watch how marathoners ripped off their shirts on the spot and used them as tourniquets to stop blood flow on the injured.  Watch how Dr Vivek Shah, an orthopedic surgeon who was just ready to approach the finish line area when he heard the blasts, continued to run towards the scene and immediately began using his expertise to aid the victims.  Watch how other finishers passed the 26.2-mile finish line and continued running an extra 2 miles to Massachusetts General Hospital where they donated blood.

Further still.

Listen to the stories that followed in the days to come.  Listen to the story of Laura Wellington.  Laura was one of the ones who did not finish and was still running when the blast occurred.  She knew that her family and friends were waiting at the finish line and didn’t know if they were safe.  Once she finally found out what was happening and, after wandering around alone and in fear for her loved ones, was finally able to contact a member of her party to confirm their safety, she fell to the ground crying with relief.  By this point, a couple, one of whom had finished the marathon, was walking in the same area and stopped to ask if she was ok.  She convinced them she was and, after explaining the situation, the man, who had just worked so hard to obtain the coveted Boston Marathon medal, took that very medal from around his neck and gave it her.  Just like that.  Laura put out a plea on Facebook as what she thought was a hopeless attempt at locating this kind man who extended such a humane gesture to her – and was able to identify him.  Brent Cunningham from Alaska.  Brent now joins the list among the many, many little heroes that surround this tragedy.

And still.

Even now, on a smaller scale, look around you.  Odds are that you probably know a runner.  And most of us, not having any clue what to do to show our support, have done all we know to do.  We just run.  Running isn’t going to fix anything (at this point, what can really?), and it’s not going to change what happened in any way, but it is our attempt to show that our spirit remains untouched.  We put on our fake little printed out Boston memorial “bibs” and run in honor of all who were affected in any way – including ourselves.  We don’t know what to say.  We don’t know what to do.  So we run.  We just run.

And still.

And still humanity stands firm.  We are still what we were seconds before those blasts occurred.  We are human beings who love each other; who care about each other; and who rise to the occasion when we’re needed.  We keep moving.

We just keep moving.  A little shaken, yes.  A little confused, yes.  Feeling a little helpless, yes.  But still moving.

Still.

***

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”– Mahatma Gandhi

Boston

As a writer and a runner, I feel drawn to blog about what happened in Boston yesterday.  But honestly, there just aren’t any words.  There just aren’t.  I don’t know what I can say that others before me haven’t already said.  How do you make sense of such useless violence at an event that is supposed to be filled with joy and pride and unity?

All I know to say is what I posted on Facebook yesterday in the midst of the first news coming out about the bombings, and what I’ve turned to myself many times before (including most recently during my little personal “disaster”).  These words from Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
Fred Rogers

Knowing that good still exists is sometimes the only thing that gets you through things like this.  Because it does.  It truly does.  For every nutjob, there are thousands of kind, good, caring citizens to help pick up the pieces from the destruction they leave behind.

Today, I will join the many runners across the nation who will be putting on our makeshift race bibs (see picture below) and running in honor of everyone who was affected by what happened yesterday – the victims, the injured, the families and friends, the bystanders, the runners (both present at the marathon and otherwise), and anyone else whose heart was broken by this blow to humanity.  I’m due an 11-mile run, which will be the farthest I’ve run so far.  No time like today.  Will you join me?

Print out the bib below and pin it to your shirt.  And run.  I don’t care if you run 0.5 mile or 50.  Just run.  Just run.  Do what we runners always do best – overcome adversity by putting one foot in front of the other and keep continuing to move forward.

 racebib

***

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.