For the Love of Running

Along with most US citizens, my heart has been with everyone who was affected by the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday.  As a runner, I ached for those runners who had family members – who were there to support them – injured or killed.  I was so sorry for the over 4000 runners who didn’t cross that finish line.  Their dreams were stolen by a couple of thugs.  The countless hours of training they had put in, seemingly wasted.  Time away from families so they could log miles…all for naught.

One of my favorite aspects of being a runner is that I belong to an incredible community.  Runners are truly supportive of one another.  It doesn’t matter if one runs a 6 minute pace or a 13 minute pace, we are all runners.  We have all had fantastic runs that we can’t wait to post on Facebook, and painful runs that make us think we will never run again. We cheer just as loudly for the last person to cross the finish line, as we did for the first.   We all watched in disbelief as two explosions rocked the finish line at the ultimate marathon, The Boston Marathon.  While I will never run Boston, I feel a connection with those who are able to, for they represent the epitome of running.  When they are hurt, I hurt.  I might not run Boston, or any other marathon, but I know what it feels like to run my race with the crowds cheering, and I know what it feels like to cross the finish line, meeting a goal I set for myself.  I know how special it is to have family and friends on the sidelines, clapping and yelling as I run past.  I do not know what it is like to have evil show up at a race.  And, dear God, I pray I never do.

I assume (and have been told) that non-runners don’t really ‘get’ us.  Why do we love running?  I actually wondered that myself this morning as I drove home after my 8-miler.  I was having a bad allergy day; my left eye was red, swollen, and dripping.  I have struggled with an IT band injury for months, and it hurt beginning at mile 5 today.  I have had a hip injury, stomach issues, and terribly sore muscles.  I have put in hours upon hours of time, just to run.  Life without running?  It would suck.  It’s what I love.  I ran with a good friend this morning, and the miles passed quickly as we caught up with one another’s lives.  I was able to enjoy the beautiful morning.  Running makes me happy.  It cures a bad mood, celebrates accomplishments, and feeds the body and soul.  It’s time with friends, time alone, and time for reflection.  Running is exhausting and invigorating, frustrating and fulfilling.

This week when I visited my orthopedic doctor, he told me my IT band problem could cause me to have to stop running.  Completely.  Those words cause panic.  Not run?  But all of my friends run.  What would I do if I couldn’t run?  I enjoy other forms of exercise, but nothing as much as running.   It is such a huge part of my life; I cannot even imagine not running.  Sorry, Doc, I can’t stop.  I will do whatever it takes to continue.

One week from today, 15 of my friends, my husband, and I will be running the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (my husband is running the full).  For many of my friends, it will be their first 13.1.  While I am excited for my run, I am even more excited for them.  I know what it feels like to complete 13.1 miles in a race, and I want that experience for them.  I can’t wait to hear about their runs, and to hear the excitement and pride in their voices when they say “I did it!”  And I can just about guarantee they will all do it again.  We will all run for Boston:  for those who didn’t get to finish their races, for those who were injured or killed, and for those whose lives were forever changed.  We will run because we will not let the evil in this world steal what we love to do.  They will not win.

To Our Running Group:  Kick Ass!  You will all do great!  I have so much confidence in each of you.  You have done the work; it’s almost time to reap the rewards (which happens to be a highly-valued race medal).  Best of luck, Lisa, Kathy, Kassi, Jackie, Breanne, Tyler, Breanne, Blair, Heidi, Derrick, Debbie, Danielle, Patrick, Jennifer, and Kara!!

To My Husband:  I hope you know how proud I am of you!  A marathon?  On an artificial knee?  You rock!  I wish you the very best, and can’t wait to meet you at the finish.  You are an inspiration to so many, and I am blessed to be your wife!