Today I ran. Not 26.2, but 5.6. It was supposed to be my rest day, my day to recover from my long weekend run. But the last thing I could do was rest. My heart had been aching all day and nothing would ease it. Not even getting the phone call from my little sister, who had been at the finish line, put the thumping to rest. My mussels were sore from my run the day before, but nowhere near as sore as my heart. I had to run.
I usually run with an iPod and GPS, tracking my pace and listening to either Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me or the Barenaked Ladies. Those are the only two things I listen to when I run. When I got home this afternoon I went straight to my closet, pulled on my Falmouth Road Race tech shirt, shorts, and sneakers, and walked out the door with nothing else but a dirty old Red Sox hat. It felt right. It felt necessary.
I started to run. Fast. Much faster than usual. I was angry. No. I was upset. Sad. I don’t know what I was, but I knew the only thing that could cure it was to run.
I made my way up Pennsylvania Avenue and hit Capitol Hill, but in my head I was on Boylston turning onto Fairfield. The sight of the explosions.
My legs were sore. I ran faster. This was my moment of silence. No iPod. No checking my pace. Just finishing the miles that many who worked so hard weren’t able to run.
I ran because I am a runner, and there is no prize or glory that comes with that. I’ve lost toenails. I’ve torn the cartilage in my hip, I have scrapped my knee and blistered my feet more times than you could imagine, but I still wake up early to run. Then, I am tired all day. The next morning, I wake sore and do it again. It’s hard. It hurts. As all runners know. But there is a peace that comes with it, a sense of self to which nothing can compare.
When time is tight…. when mussels are tight... it’s the support I get that keeps me going, or at least keeps me from breaking. The girl who yelled at me on E Street to keep up the good pace and the random guy I ended up running alongside for 3 miles, each of us helping the other keep speed, until he turned onto a different road. My family, who comes to every race, and that one person who always says, “you’re a champ,” even if it was my slowest time yet.
In running, those clapping on the side are better than any sports bar, energy drink, or pasta dinner. It’s the runners and spectators together who work hard for months to celebrate their accomplishment at the finish line. Today those runners and supporters didn’t get to celebrate.