Running Through Tragedy

I am a runner.

I will never qualify for Boston. But I am a runner.

And as a runner, the tragedies at today’s Boston Marathon are affecting me in a way that is different from any other recent tragedy. (And there have been far too many recently).

Running a marathon takes heart and soul and months of preparation. Today should have been one of the proudest moments of those people’s lives. Instead, it’s been marred by tragedy.

But runners are strong. Running gives strength. I know this, because it’s given me strength time and time again over the past several months.

When Darren passed away, I found a new kind of solace in running.

Darren wasn’t a runner, but he had decided to run the Soldier Field 10 Miler with me, and we had just begun training together. Only a few days after he passed, I found myself without even thinking, running to our meeting point. I waited there for a few minutes wishing he’d show up to continue our run together. But for a brief moment, it felt like he wasn’t even gone.

Other days after his passing, I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t want to be with people, either. On the lake path, I could run and be alone with my thoughts, but also feel a camaraderie¬†with other runners out there with me. Runners are never truly alone.

Even now, I find comfort in runs on the hardest days. Sometimes it’s by running some of the routes we ran together. Other days I can just enjoy peace of mind that comes with a good run. I can look around, breathe the air, and appreciate the beauty and life all around this gorgeous city.

As the saying goes, you’re often just one run away from a good mood.

Tonight, with a heavy heart, I didn’t know what else to do but go for a run. My longest run in 6 months. In the rain.

I wouldn’t say that I am in a good mood now. But I have found a little comfort and a little clarity from running today.

My wish is that all those impacted by today’s tragedies in Boston also find comfort and solace soon.

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I’m not running Boston, and I probably never will.

The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon, and it is rich with tradition and history. Its rigorous qualifying standards makes it one of the most elite races out there, and because of this, running the Boston Marathon has made it on the bucket lists of just about every marathoner I know.

Note I said “just about” every marathoner. I am a marathoner. (Though I still can’t believe I can say that!) However, running Boston is not on my list. Let me tell you why.

I am slow. This is no secret.

I keep a pretty solid 11:30 mile average for half marathons.

I struggle to reach a 3o minute 5K.

I had a 13-minute pace at the Disney Marathon. (Although this was a result of stopping for several character photos along the way, so my adjusted time was more in line with my half marathon pace.)

So slow that Carl lent me his cane during the race.

When I run along the lake path, runners with strollers full of kids and leashes with 3 dogs will whizz pass me.

In fact, the only people I ever pass on the path are the walkers.

Keeping these things in mind, take a look at the Boston Qualifying times:

2012 Boston Marathon Qualifying Times (www.baa.org)

For a woman my age, I would have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 4o minutes. That is about an 8:20 mile pace. I can’t even run that fast for 3 miles, let alone 26.2!

The only thing that gives people like me any hope is that the qualifying times get easier as you get older. So, you know, if I’m 80 years old, still running at the same pace as I did in my 30s, and run the Disney Marathon without any bathroom or photo stops, maybe I can qualify 50 years from now.

That is, if the standards don’t get even harder by then.

They say the hardest part of any marathon is getting to the start line. After training for my marathon, I wholeheartedly agree with that. When it comes to Boston, getting there is an even more amazing feat.

Even the person who is dead last to cross the finish line on Monday is a better runner than I will ever be.

So, if you are running Boston this week, no matter how you fare, you are a hero to me!

Good luck, everyone!