Everyone in the running community is reeling from the events at Boston yesterday. Every runner aspires to Boston, even those of us who have accepted it isn’t reality. We train for months and months, modify our diets, prepare ourselves mind and body and soul for the grueling distance events we run, and for most of us, running is our safe place. I know I work out my problems on a long run. When I’m sad, I run. Happy? Yup, I run then too. Running is always the one constant in my life.
A couple of years ago, a student gunman entered the high school where I work and took control of a classroom. He held a group of twenty-five teenagers and their teacher hostage. Police were called in from all around, including the SWAT team, to handle the incident. Luckily, only one life was lost that day, that of the gunman. But the kids in the room that day, they were changed. The teacher, she will never be the same.
Even those of us who weren’t in the room, were changed by the incident. Some of us cried, some of us got angry, some of us sat in stunned belief. All of us were put on high alert, wondering if we should have seen something, noticed something, or just loved more. People were frightened, protocols changed, and we struggled to regain our sense of normalcy. The problem was, something had been taken from every one of us. The place where we always felt safe, the place we spent so many waking moments, that sacredness was gone.
The day we returned to school, students expressed a multitude of different emotions, fear among them. A student asked me if I was afraid. I thought about it and replied, “No, I refuse to be afraid. I refuse to let someone take my safe place from me. I’m reclaiming my school NOW.”
That is how I feel today, in light of the events in Boston. I have gone the gamut of emotions, just like that November day when my school was taken hostage. I was sad, worried, frightened, angry…all mixed into one. Today, that’s where I am. And do you know what I did to process my feelings after our incident? I ran. And what do you think I will be doing tonight? You guessed it, running.
I heard some Boston Marathon finishers are hesitant to wear their medals home from the race, and I understand that. They worry it might seem disrespectful. I disagree. I say wear your medals with pride, finishers. Wear them for those who died, those who were injured, for those who were at the race and for those of us who will never be there. Wear your medals, put on your shirts, and show the world that fears will not rule us.