April 16, 2013

Why I'll be at the Boston Marathon in 2014

Anyone reading this blog paused when they heard the news about yesterday’s Boston Marathon explosions. I spent all afternoon searching for the people from my town to make sure they were OK. Not that my Facebook and Google searches would have made a difference at that point, but it was the only way I knew to cope with the news. I was so thankful for all of the friends and family who reached out to me to verify that I was/wasn’t there and expressed their concern and love.

One of the hardest parts of any tragedy for me is attempting to comprehend why anyone would be so evil. Why runners? We threaten no one. Most of us (or maybe just me) barely have enough upper body strength to win an arm wrestle with a toddler. The only answer that makes any sense at all is that some people are totally insane. I have never completely understood the insanity defense in any murder trial. If you murder someone on purpose, you are obviously insane, and if you murder more than one someone randomly but also on purpose, you are that much more insane.

So what do we do? How do we fight the insanity? Do we stop running? Do we hide? Do we remove ourselves from society? I talked to my older kids about the explosions yesterday, and they could see that I was visibly upset (crying) about it. I wasn’t sure whether or not to talk to the kids about it, but I knew because of my plans to run Boston in 2014 (and the random crying spells) that the subject would come up again and again that day and over the next year. After I told them the news, they asked one main question – the same one that I asked, why would someone do that? While there aren’t any answers to that question yet, I’ve come up with one piece of advice for my kids.

People do bad things that make us feel powerless, and the only way to get that power back from the bad people of the world is to put out an equal or greater amount of kindness, generosity, understanding, and love. My hope for them and for myself is that we can do so many small (or large) kind acts that we cancel out the evil acts that people spew onto the world.

Then I read this Mr. Rogers quote that one of my friends shared. 

I cried (again) when I read this and wished that I had shared it with my kids yesterday. Difficult circumstances aren't always caused by evil people. Natural disasters and accidents happen every day too, but each time we're faced with a trial, we have the ability to reach out and give what we know how to give.

The first thing that popped into my mind when I read "look for the helpers" was a picture that I saw yesterday of police officers jumping into action right after the first bomb went off. 


Then I found this article that about the man who is on the ground in the above picture. After the blast going off five feet from him and knocking him to the ground, he got up and finished the race.

One of the first things I instinctively decided yesterday is that I could never take my family with me when I go to Boston, but after mulling it over a night, I'm not sure. I never questioned whether or not I would go and run, just that I didn't want to risk harming my family in pursuit of my dream.

Part of my natural instinct is to recoil when something bad happens and shield myself that way, but there is another instinct at work too -- the instinct to fight back. After talking to my husband, who pretty much told me that there was no way I was going to Boston without them, I changed my original stance. Maybe part of how we overcome evil in the world is by showing that we won't be forced into a corner of fear. We will get out and fight the good fight, even when we are scared. Plus, I am confident that next year will be a safer race because of this tragedy. Boston will increase all safety measures, no doubt about that.

So I think I'm going to take my cues from the guy who got knocked down by the blast and popped back up to finish the race. The bombings yesterday are obviously devastating to Boston and the running community as a whole, but one of my hopes is that we can shake off the fear and hurt and continue pursuing our dreams. If there's a spot open for me, I'm planning to run Boston in 2014, and my family is planning to be there to watch me cross the finish of my dream because they believe in me and love me.

But my other dream that is much bigger than Boston is that if we put all of our love and kindness and hope together we can stamp out fear and hate. After days like yesterday, that dream feels so far out of reach, but I know for sure that the only way for us to find happiness is to keep pushing along that path.