I am an unlikely runner.
I was never particularly athletic as a kid, always more interested in books than the outdoors. My family isn’t particularly sporty either. Other than a fanatical love of the Tar Heels, we spent more time watching Jeopardy or Star Trek than football or baseball games.
Frankly, I started running out of desperation. At the time, I wasn’t “in a great place.” I’ll spare you the gory details- all you need to know is that there were forces in my life that kept telling me I wasn’t capable of very much. Looking back, I’m saddened by how very close I was to believing it.
I started running because I needed to believe in myself.
The first time I laced up, I ran for about 2 minutes. I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t breath and every part of me hurt. The next day, I ran for 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The day after that, 30 seconds more. And so on until I realized that I could run for 22 minutes straight. Standing on a corner of Mass Ave, I jumped up and down for joy.
I am a morning runner. Also unlikely, because I hate getting out of bed. But I started running in the morning for a very specific reason. Because no matter what else happened that day, I had accomplished something. No one—no angry boss, petty co-worker, or enraged commuter—could take that away. When you are on the road or the trail, no one can give up on you but you. When you are taking a hill or pushing that last mile, you have to dig deep and believe in yourself.
That’s why for me, running is about faith.
Over the past 7 years, I have run this city. I’ve run the brick sidewalks of Harvard Square, up and down the Charles, through the Arnold Arboretum, and along Jamaica Pond. Not only have I learned to have faith in myself, I’ve learned to believe in the people of Boston. We have a tremendous running community. Every race I’ve done in Boston feels more like a party. We support each other. We swap training techniques. We cheer each other on.
There are no words to describe what happened on Marathon Monday. No words do this kind of pain justice. But one thing is clear to me: what they were trying to attack wasn’t the Marathon, it was that spirit of perseverance, camaraderie, and faith.
On the Tuesday after the attacks, I did the only thing that made sense to me. I woke up, laced up, and ran a few miles. I picked a new route that morning, one that took me to the top of Peter’s Hill where you get a beautiful view of the city skyline. That run was an act of defiance and a declaration of hope.
For every runner, for every booster, and for my city, I cannot let Marathon Monday be about destruction. We have to dig deep, and believe in our ability to push forward.