Running the Boston Marathon...or any marathon for that matter...has never been on my bucket list. I'm sure that I could die peacefully in my sleep at the age of 97 and never regret that I never qualified for Boston.
I run, but I am not a Runner.
I am not long and lean and graceful and powerful. There isn't a spring in my feet that makes each step look effortless. I am not fast. I do not find the joy or pleasure in running like a true Runner does. I run, but I am not a Runner.
My legs were bowed when I was born, and they are still slightly bent. I have my Grandma's butt and thighs which are powerful but a lot to carry around. My stride looks awkward and is more of a shuffle. I over pronate and stomp with each step. I run, but I am not a Runner.
And I'm OK with that. I really am.
In spite of my weight and my physiological limitations, I still get out there. And I'm getting better. And I'm getting faster. And I find joy in the camaraderie of real Runners. And I will cheer them on and be filled with pride as they qualify for Boston.
A year ago I got on a plane in Indianapolis and remembered that it was Marathon Monday in Boston. I got off of the plane in Tulsa and heard about the bombings. I was horrified. I cried in the airport right there at baggage claim.
I cried for those who died.
I cried for those who were horrifically injured.
I cried for those bystanders that witnessed the war zone that the finish line became.
But mostly I cried for those people who had to stop. I cried for those people who didn't get to run beyond 4:09:43. There were over 5,600 runners who hadn't finished the race yet. Many of them were not Boston qualifiers, but entered the race to run for a charity. Many of them run, but are not Runners.
I cried for those people.
They were over-weight, or unathletic, or over pronators that struggled with every stride. Their training runs took twice as long as the elites. Everything took twice as long as the elites. They had prepared months for this. They had 2nd guessed (and 3rd and 4th) themselves. They entered the race to prove something to themselves, and because of an act of madness, they didn't get to finish what they started.
Many of them are trying again today. As I sit here in Indiana, I am cheering them on. I'm cheering on the Runners, I am cheering on those who run, I am cheering on the spectators and the city of Boston. Today will be a day of healing. It will be a day of finishing what many started, all those months before last year's race. It will be a day of strength.
Last year in Tulsa, after I checked into the hotel, I changed clothes and went for a run. It wasn't fast and it wasn't far. I ran a few miles to honor those who died, those who were injured, those who witnessed the horror at the finish line and mostly for those who did not finish the race. I'll do the same tonight.
I will never qualify for Boston...and I'm OK with that. But I can still be #BostonStrong. We all can.