I will never qualify for Boston. Well, if I can keep my current pace until I'm 85 I'll qualify. So basically I will never qualify for Boston. That didn't stop me from watching the live internet feed on the edge of my seat while first Caballero, then Felix, and finally Jeptoo came to the front. I couldn't believe how fast, how light they were. I kept growling "Come on, Shalane, come on!" as she bounced just behind the top three. I wondered where Kara was in relation to the lead pack. I watched a Canadian named Watson bound to the front of the men's race, only to be swallowed by the Kenyan pack. Hartman looking like he was going to be dropped, then surging back into the front runners. It was breath taking. Inspiring. I felt like I KNEW those runners, like we were old friends.
I had friends and friends of friends running Boston yesterday. Friends who were there staffing and volunteering. I worried about them, and I'm glad they're all okay.
In a way, all runners are friends. We line up together, nervous, checking out watches, wondering if our breakfast will stay down, anxious to START ALREADY. We pep talk people who are lagging, and tell total strangers we believe in them, are proud of them, and that they can do it. Spectators line up and shout and shout and clap and scream for people they've never seen before and will never see again. Volunteers hand out water, get sloshed full of Gatorade, and sweep up a billion paper cups while still offering words of encouragement. Police and EMS guard intersections, block traffic, wait for a call that someone is in trouble. Doctors and PTs and massage therapists help people limping accross finish lines get their battle wounds bound up and set them right.
Yesterday our community was attacked when Boston was attacked. I don't know who did it, but I hope whoever it was will be found and made to pay for what they did. There is no way to truly protect against this kind of thing. Running is the only sport that competes on city streets. You can't secure every inch of a 26.2 mile course. That's crazy. Race officials do the best they can. There will no doubt be talk of cancelling large, big city marathons. That's crazy, too. Runners are crazy. We would never stand for that.
We have to keep running. Remembering those people who were killed, those who were hurt. Remembering all those who helped when the time came, who ran toward the blast and not away from it. Keeping a closer eye on our surroundings, perhaps, and as always looking out for each other.
I won't be praying for Boston, because I do not pray. But I will run with Boston in my heart. And next year? I'll be watching the live feed again as another 25,000 people take the streets on Marathon Monday.