Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston: finishing a marathon

I have not actively aspired to run Boston, though I have run five marathons and am an avid runner and racer of shorter distances, for 15 or 16 years now. The only time I came close to qualifying was in 1999, during my first marathon, the NYC one, in my hometown. And the BAA has gone and made the times even harder to reach. Now that I am in my 40s, I can aim for the old time of 3:50; the newer one of 3:45 is a much iffier. I am aware of the possibility, but I am not scrambling to make it reality, and I am shy about trying to raise thousands of dollars from friends and family for an alternative charity entry.

So I was not running in Boston yesterday, April 15, 2013, tax day, Patriots’ Day, mere days before the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the day gun control legislation was reaching some sort of milestone in Congress. I don’t think I know anyone who was running, either.

If I were running Boston, I would likely have finished a tad before the explosions, in around 3:55. The finish clock read 4:09 and change. I probably would have been in the post-finish area, walking, sweaty, relieved, even euphoric, wrapped in a mylar blanket, drinking water, eating a banana. I would have heard the booms and the screams. Seeing the videos over and over, I can put myself there all too easily.

When I finish a marathon, I may be in some pain, but I am elated. I love seeing that finish line. I feel tough, and I feel safe. The bombing in Boston has shaken me more deeply than I can express; it is tapping bits in my subconscious that I cannot extract.

Of course I can imagine myself or spectating loved-ones being in that very kind of spot. What really panics me is I know how those runners felt--safe and happy.

This is terrorism, whether domestic or international. (I lean toward domestic, though I have little evidence to back up that gut feeling.) This was an attack directed at innocents, targeted to gain media attention, determined to make us scared.

I am out of words for now, though there is so much more to learn, sort out, feel, say, write. I am thinking of all those who were there.