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.