every step

I went on my first run when I was 15 years old. My Aunt Violet had just died; she was old, it was expected but I had these feelings I didn’t know what to do with. I couldn’t cry, I didn’t really need to talk to anyone but I felt like I needed to do something so I did what I had seen my Dad do every night when he got home from work - I laced up my shoes and started running.

In the years since that first stride down the block, running has become an essential tool for me. It’s how I explore new cities, learning the landscape with every step. It’s how I work through ideas for my job; a spin to the lake and back has garnered “the big breakthrough” more than once. Running is what I do when I don’t know what to do, where I turn when life is weighing heavy and the only thing light is my feet. I run races when I want to be even more a part of a community that has never met a high five they didn’t love. Running is my “everything is going to be alright”.

What happened in Boston feels like a punch in the stomach. The thing about marathon finish lines is that they are the absolute best of humanity. The volunteers are selfless and kind, the spectators breathtakingly supportive and the runners…well, the runners are chasing down the final moments of a race that has meant far more to them than 26.2 miles. You have a moment that means so much to everyone there, regardless of what their participation is. It’s the very best we have to offer as human beings - sheer, uninhibited love and celebration for each other. And for someone to mar that with violence is beyond horrific.

But I’ll tell you something else about marathon finish lines: these are people who don’t quit. And I have news for whoever who wanted to take away this sacred ritual - it didn’t work. The support, love, care for each other - it still happened and will keep happening. Shoes will be laced up, people will take to the streets and this community will now run for another reason…because they can.

It was starting to rain when I headed out tonight. It didn’t matter. As I ran north to the park and east to the lake, nodding in understanding to those I passed along the path, I realized that the best thing I can do in this time of not knowing what to do is to run. I ran every step with Boston in my heart and it is my fervent prayer that everything really will, in the end, be alright.

Nina is our Community Connector in Chicago, Illinois. This post first appeared yesterday on her blog Just A Chi Town Girl.

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So incredibly spot-on.

Prayers and thoughts are with the runners and their family and friends.

Comment by Holly H. — April 16, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

BRAVO! Due to the horrific events in Boston yesterday, A group of us have committed to run a marathon this summer just to prove that we, all of us who never give up…are indeed going to raise higher than before!

Comment by Suzanne Tugman — April 16, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

Such beautiful insight on such a horrible tragedy. Thanks Nina for putting positive light on this darkness!

Comment by Elle — April 16, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Running is not about winning or reaching the finish line first but rather finishing the race. It’s more like a fulfillment and winning over that little voice in my head saying “give up, go home and watch tv”. It pains me to see what many of our fellow runners have to go through because of such violence. If only these wrong-doers open their hearts, they will see how beautiful the world is despite fear, chaos and uncertainties around us.

Comment by ces — April 16, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

I felt exactly the same way when I heard the news yesterday and laced up my shoes last night. I just wanted to thank you for writing this post. It was beautiful and raw and broke my heart all over again.

Comment by Corielle Heath — April 16, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

i’m just a baby runner right now (on my third week of c25k), but when i got out there last night for my short little run through my chicago ‘burb, i thought a lot about boston. my thoughts went along the same lines as these.

i didn’t make it into the chimarathon this year (didn’t get selected for the lottery), but i’m going to keep running. i’m going to enter other races — 5ks, insanity runs, maybe a half marathon. i’m going to find charities to run for, instead of just running for me. i’m going to run the seawall when i vacation in vancouver over the summer.

if anything, this inspires me to run more.

i noticed on the inside of one of my swiftlies that it says ‘i’m a runner because i run.’ like i said, i’m only a baby runner now, but i can already feel the pull of it, see the pain the running community feels after this event.

thanks for the post. keep your thoughts east — to the lake, to boston.

Comment by alison — April 17, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

Great well written article-thank you so much:)

Comment by anneverzel — April 18, 2013 @ 8:38 am

I am coaching a guy with a 5k goal for this coming summer. Gotta tell ya! He says the same thing about the invigorating feeling when he crosses the finish line.

Comment by Steven — April 19, 2013 @ 10:29 am

Though I have some injuries that keep me from running the way I once did, I began running in 1982 for the very same reason. I ran because I was running with a community of people who enjoyed life, pursued their goals, and enjoyed others doing the same thing. Runners, if they are committed, and most at that level are, will not give up that sense of humanity and community to anyone, bureaucratic or terrorist in nature. Boston will come back (and I think it already has as a result of the capture and take-down of the two thugs who created the mayhem at the Boston Marathon and at MIT/Watertown. Winning (in one’s own personal race) and achieving a goal is a powerful thing. It can only be stalled out, but that spirit cannot be killed. Great post!

Comment by David — April 22, 2013 @ 8:33 am

Really nice post! In spite of the senseless evil attacks in Boston that seem to mar the spirit of running, it is great to see that runners and all involved with running will never let that happen.

Comment by Sally — April 23, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

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