Monday, April 14, 2014

The Marathon One Year Later: To Endure is To Win

Marathon (noun) 1. a foot race over a course measuring 26 miles 385 yards  2. any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal, length or duration or requiring exceptional endurance                     
 --Random House Dictionary

Just keep going.

No matter what happens. No matter what obstacles appear in your path blocking the way.  No matter how much your legs ache or your lungs burn or your spirits flag and all you want to do is stop and rest. 

No. Just keep going.

One foot in front of the other, step by step and stride by stride, mile after mile after mile after mile.  Do whatever you have to do to keep running.  Imagine the finish line in your mind and crossing over it.  Say a prayer to God to give you the strength to endure the pain. Don’t think about the distance which lies ahead.  Focus on the next landmark, the next corner to turn, the next mile marker to pass. 

Just keep going.

Distract yourself if it helps.  See the crowds cheering you along. Read the brightly colored handheld signs of encouragement. Listen to the shouts of support and love.  “You can do it!”  “Just five more miles!” “Almost there!”  Or focus on your breathing.   One breath in. One breath out. 

Yes, just keep going. For you. For every one. Especially this year.

I tried to write about the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and this year’s race so many times in the past month.  I kept coming up empty, wordless, mute. What more can be said about that awful and awe-filled April day?  Bright blue skies and terror filled streets. Victims lying across Boylston Street in a nightmarish urban war zone. Brave first responders and bystanders scrambling to save someone, anyone.  Sketchy and confusing news reports--what happened?!

And I wasn’t even there, nowhere close to the finish line.  I can’t, most of us, can’t ever imagine what it was all really like…for the families of the three spectators who died, or the sixteen people who lost a limb, the 264 hurt, the runners frozen in fear at exactly 2:49  pm, the cop gunned down in the manhunt. No words or sentiment could ever capture it all.  All I can offer is one prayer and plea and hope as 36,000 runners and millions of marathon fans walk back into the memories.

Just keep going.  KEEP GOING! Keep running. Keep striving.  Keep on keeping on until the very last runner finally crosses the finish line next Monday afternoon. 

In response to trauma, sometimes that’s all we humans can do and that’s a good thing and that’s a miracle and a victory. To face death and grieve deeply and then carry on in life somehow. To be knocked down by circumstances beyond our control and then find the grace and the grit to pick ourselves up and start running again.  To live through tragedy and terror and then refuse to let it break us and instead go on with life, even, especially, when it is so incredibly difficult.   To run and not grow weary.  To stumble but not fall.

To just keep going.

So bring on the 118th running of the Boston Marathon next Monday. It is time. It will be a bittersweet day of memory and memorials, an anxious day as we remember where we were and what we were doing. But I believe the marathon has already been won before it begins, before anyone departs Hopkinton for that 26.2 mile journey. 

For you see, we can and we must and we will, just keep going.  GO BOSTON!




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