The spirit of a marathon
| Tuesday, April 23, 2013
On Monday at 1:34 p.m., I crossed the finish line of my ninth marathon. Over the past three days, I’ve been struggling to make sense of what happened that day. Though the motivation behind these events is still unknown, I do know my family and I were part of the target, and for whatever reason, we were spared. But others weren’t, and their losses cannot be replaced.
Marathons are a unique sporting activity because they simulate the very real-life experience of having to reach deep down for strength to continue onward when your body is saying you have nothing left to give. This makes running a marathon a very personal and truly emotional experience, and it explains why the spectators are so important to us runners. Numerous times during the race Monday, when I was apparently looking in need of motivation, I would hear from someone nearby: “Go, Colleen – you’re almost there!” These people didn’t know me, yet they supported me anyway, reading the name I had scribbled with a marker earlier that morning on my bib. This outpouring of unconditional support from one human being to another is the beating heart of a marathon experience. This is precisely why it is unbelievably painful and difficult to comprehend the events that occurred at the finish line Monday.
Some people say marathoners are crazy. And I don’t always disagree with them; we are a people that run 26.2 miles until our legs feel wobbly and call it fun. But one thing’s for sure: Marathons remind us of what’s good in people. We are seeing countless examples of this in stories that continue to emerge from Monday – stories of runners continuing onward toward the hospital to donate blood and volunteers who moments before had been handing out medals and were now applying tourniquets to wounds. This good will continue, and so will our propensity to run until our legs feel wobbly. To those who were cheering out there, and to those who come out to support a marathon, I want to say thank you. Don’t let this break your spirit, Boston. We’ll keep coming back to show good always triumphs over evil and nothing can break the spirit of a marathon.