Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What runners do

Today is National Running Day. If I weren’t a runner I may not have even known that, but since I am, I thought about it a lot today. Coincidentally, I received a running gift today. I say it was a coincidence because it was a gift someone has had for me for a while, but only got to give to me today. My friend Jon, who I wrote about in a recent entry, talking of how he was writing his dissertation while training for a marathon and found many parallels, had his dissertation defense today—he couldn’t have planned the timing better. He had been telling me he had something for me, but we had not been able to connect, so today he brought it.

Remember after the Boston Marathon bombing how many of us did “Run for Boston” pictures all over Facebook? Not a lot of people know that started in College Station, but the brains behind it was the director of the local marathon. They took those pictures—well, lots but not all of them, and made it into a book which they sold to benefit the victims. Because the book was full color, it was pricier than I could justify spending in the short time it was available. At that point had no idea my moving expenses were covered, so I passed. But Jon didn’t. He ordered me a copy. And today after his defense, I got to see it.

I will look at this book over and over again, I know. It’s pictures from across the world of people who made time on Wednesday, April 17 to run in honor of Boston, to make a statement we would always run, to use our runs as time to pray for the victims—many of whom could not run anymore.

That day for me was a busy one. It was, of course, freezing cold because we had the long, cold winter. I had to work in a school north of downtown. Rain was forecast all day. I could not find a single running group doing the run; I knew there must be some, but none of the big groups I knew were doing it--with only a day or so to plan it all, there wasn't a lot of time to organize, I guess, so people just did it. The idea was to wear the colors of the marathon, blue and yellow, and run, then take a picture with a sign that said "Run for Boston" and post it on their Facebook page with where they were.

I really needed to do it. It was weird because I am not symbolic about “causes.” But I felt like I had to find a way to do this, so I prepared to run in the rain. At the school I pulled up my map program and looked for the closest patches of green. I found the name of the park on the map, Antioch Park, looked it up in the Johnson County park guide, and found out there were trails. I needed to get to the closest park before the real rain hit.

I had running tights on under my work pants, as usual. Inside my work dress boots were a blue sock and a yellow sock--because I couldn’t find a match for either. I owned exactly one blue tech shirt (running shirt). I got it for a steal on as an add on, just the week before. That meant I had the colors covered. I decided to do 2.62 miles—a tenth of a marathon. The park was somewhat hilly, and it was cold, but the rain held off and I ran—I stopped at exactly 2.62, took a picture with the only signs I could find—blue and yellow Post-It notes from the classroom I was in—-and then I felt okay. I had done it. I needed to do it.

Alone in the cold on that busy day, I felt like I was part of something bigger—the magnificent running community. If you didn’t read my blog about the running community and why it’s a big deal, please take a look here:

That day it was so much fun to see the thousands of pictures sent in from all over the world. As I got bunches of “likes” on my own picture, I felt that connection to all the runners—we were all part of Boston.

I was barely aware they were publishing a book about it, but I definitely wanted one when I knew. Today as I skimmed through it, I felt tears come to my eyes again. Seeing all those pictures really moved me. It was a powerful moment—-runners at their best (and we are a great group, by and large).

Today I found something else in that book: me. My picture made the cut, and there I was on the top of the page with my beaming face, homemade Post-It signs across my chest, and one blue and one yellow sock.

This isn’t the first book I have been in, but I think it’s the first time my picture has been in a book—and it’s my first in the running world. Little me—with a bunch of others from all over, normal everyday runners who wept over those hurt by this act, who wept because, as I said back then, stealing running is like staling wings from a bird.

And we weren’t having it.

 Because runners run (for Boston).

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