We Are Runners, And We Will Run

by Jason Fitzgerald

This is the third time I’ve sat down to write about Monday’s Boston Marathon.

But yesterday – and the day before – I couldn’t articulate my feelings about what happened near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Like many of you, I went through every phase of loss: disbelief, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Hopefully today I’ll have more words.

The six days I spent in Boston for the marathon were mostly full of excitement and meetings with the most amazing people. I had coffee with one of my runners, shared a few drinks with a couple I used to coach, met other coaches, and held an SR meetup on Saturday night.

Dozens showed up and we laughed, talked running, and encouraged those who were racing on Monday. Never before had I met so many readers. It makes me excited for what I do every day but more importantly, even more passionate about the running community.

I left that meetup convinced that runners are one of the best groups of people to hang out with. I’ve never been more proud to call myself a runner.

Early on Marathon Monday, I went for my own short run before walking across the Massachusetts Ave bridge to watch the race. I was on Commonwealth Ave at about the 25.5 mile mark, just before the road dips under an overpass.

I cheered on two of my runners who I am so proud of for both running under 3:30 and setting new personal bests.

But the feeling of joy, a well-deserved pat on the back, and satisfaction was short-lived. Soon thereafter I traveled back to Cambridge across the river and had a drink with a few friends.

I had barely had a sip when my friend received a phone call from his Dad. There had been an explosion at the finish line of the marathon. The TV was turned on, full volume, and the restaurant filled with people wondering what happened. I soon realized that I was cheering at the very spot that runners were now being stopped and held.

My phone immediately went crazy with Facebook messages, wall posts, tweets, texts, phone calls, and emails. I am so grateful for the outpouring of concern from many of you, my family, and friends. Thankfully I was not near the finish area and both of my runners had finished and were unharmed.

But soon, even that feeling of safety was shattered. If you can’t be safe at a road race, where can you be safe? The marathon is a symbol of community, where runners come together to test themselves against 26.2 difficult miles.

There is no political agenda. There are no opposing teams to root for. There is no predominant culture, ethnicity, or religion.

The more I thought about this terrible tragedy, the more confused and angry I became. Bombs have no place at a marathon.

The day after the race I went running, trying to shake my head full of opposing thoughts, confusion, and what felt like cobwebs. And I saw other people out there running, too.

I ran back across the Massachusetts Ave bridge, along the Charles River, and through the streets of the Back Bay. And there were runners everywhere, many of them wearing their Boston Marathon shirts or jackets.

Then I realized that nothing can shake the spirit of the marathon. Nor will a few explosions turn people away from running road races.

We are runners, and we will run. 

The 2014 Boston Marathon – which I plan to run – will sell out even faster.

Runners who have never attempted 26.2 miles will now commit to train and complete the distance.

People who have never run at all will begin their slow journey to running their first marathon.

We are runners, and we will run.

Runners will never live in fear and cower away from the monumental achievement that is running a marathon.

The running community is strong and now we are even stronger. No senseless act will shake our determination and commitment to do what we love doing.

We are runners, and we will run.

To the victims of this horrible tragedy, I want to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences. Through SR I’ve become even more committed to the running community and these events feel like an attack on my closest friends. My thoughts are with you.

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Wes

damn straight. and bravo.

Eric M.

Yes! YES!

Nima Kumar

Thanks for this, Jason :)

Laura

Well said Jason. I think as runners we are more determined than ever now.
Thinking of all those affected Monday.

Shannon @ moveeatcreate.wordpress.com

Absolutely. My sadness and anger this week has been outmatched only by my pride and affection for my running community.

Don Kiely

Thanks, Jason! It was great meeting you at the meetup; thanks for organizing that. I was one of the lucky ones able to finish. I thought that Boston would be a one time thing for me, since huge road marathons in big cities are not really my thing. (Except, of course, that it’s BOSTON. :-) But now I’m feeling like I HAVE to come back next year, just to show that we are runners and something like this won’t keep us down.

David Damron

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Now, it’s time to qualify. ;)

email coming your way soon sir….

David Damron
BecomeaBeast.com

David Csonka

Thank you for sharing your feelings and experience Fitz. Glad you’re OK

James Ubriaco

I think we’ve all been struggling to come to terms with the bombing. I find it so difficult to articulate my sense of outrage at the sheer absurdity of it. Thank you for giving voice to my feelings! I’m not sure if I’l qualify for 2014, but Boston has become my primary running goal.

John Sifferman

Right on, Jason – well said.

Bryan

Well done Jason.

Leo

Glad you are okay Jason.

Shelly Browne

Ditto to what you said.

—Shelly

Helen

Jason:

Your testimony from the race was so inspirational and had me in tears. I am a marathoner, but a walker for the most part, as it took me 6 1/2 hours to complete my first and only marathon. I was to compete in the 2012 ING NYC Marathon only to have my “bucketlist” marathon cancelled :( It is a “dream” to one day be able to qualify for Boston. Trying to start running again after two knee surgeries.
Please make this story accessible to the FB community. I see a link for Twitter but I would like a link to share this on FB with my friends and family who are runners.
Runners/Walkers united will run for Boston in their hearts.

Jason Fitzgerald

Thanks Helen. There’s a link in the blue box above the comments to share on FB. You could also just copy/paste the post url.

Ingrid

Jason,

I’m glad you & yours are well. This has been a difficult tragedy to come to terms with, and my heart goes out to Boston in its current turmoil – I am so, so sorry.

“We are runners, and we will run” – this has only proven how true that adage is. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am running my first half in two weeks, and I had vaguely wanted to run a marathon at some distant point in the future, but after this tragedy, I’m planning on running my first this fall. And where previously I had never really considered attempting Boston, that is my new goal for somewhere down the line, and I’m more glad than ever to be a runner.

My thoughts & prayers are with everyone in Boston right now.

Meg

Thanks for your blog post. I was a charity runner on Monday (my first marathon, ever!) and was one of those who could not finish. My family was watching at 25.5 also, just after the Mass Ave/Comm Ave intersection where you were. Up until Sunday night, they were planning to be on Boylston Street near the finish area. My sister and I had made the decision for them to be at 25.5 with some of my people from work who were cheering on our other charity runners. I was about a mile away when I started getting phone calls and texts about what happened. I was fortunate to find my family quickly and get out of there unscathed. Many people have asked me if I feel jilted or robbed because I was not able to cross the finish line after so many months of training, and that’s the least of my concerns. I am incredibly thankful that everyone I know personally is safe and was not harmed. Boston is a great city and it is so unfortunate that a few sick people can cause so much trauma and terror in our home on such a fun and fabulous day. And now the drama unfolding this morning with the suspects and some cities on lockdown. It will take a long time for us to feel safe again. The love and support from around the country and around the world, both from runners and non-runners, has been fantastic. Please keep praying for us and running for us – it really does mean a lot!

Kay

Well said. I don’t know that we will ever truly understand what makes people commit terrible acts. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. I ran it last year and I’ll be running it in 2014 as well. It’s a one of a kind marathon.

Alana

Hi Jason,
I’m so glad you are okay. I’m not sure I can dream of BQ-ing, but I’m more committed than ever to running a full and being the best runner I can be. I look forward to coming together with my local community on Monday to #RunForBoston.

Thanks for all you do, you’re one of the reasons I’m committed!

#ILoveBoston

tobias

I just want to comment on what happend at the boston marathon I feel it is cruel hardless and shocking and pray hope and believe that those reponsible for the bombing will get what’s coming for us as runners that has a passion for running makes on angry.

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