Of course I have thoughts on Boston.

I was going to write on Monday about how I’ve really, finally fallen in love with running in the last couple of weeks: about how every time I finish a run, no matter how much it hurts or I’m covered in sweat or out of breath, I always smile and think, “sweet! I get to do that again tomorrow”; about the simple joy I’ve found in breathing the spring air and losing myself in my complete lack of thought for about an hour a day; about how running more has helped me get faster and in better shape, which has helped me enjoy running even more because I can go slow or fast as I need to and play around with speed and hills and not want to die; about the great time I had in Charleston over the weekend at Saint’s other cousin’s wedding and that one of the highlights of that was running the Cooper River Bridge in 20+ MPH winds which sounds awful but was totally, life-affirmingly awesome.

And then Boston happened, and I got completely derailed.

I’ve never run in Boston; I will, when I go there for a conference in November. I’ll probably never run fast enough to qualify for the marathon; it will, I think, be a minor miracle if I can ever run a marathon in less than 4 hours. But as a runner, and one who’s run a marathon before, I found myself far more affected by Monday’s events than any tragedy pretty much since 9/11.

While I’ve used “I” and “me” a lot already, what happened in Boston isn’t about me; I wasn’t there, I have no firsthand account, no claim to any loss or grief because everyone I know there is safe and okay. It’s about the violation of a sacred space for thousands, millions of people who run every day – and I’m mostly repeating words I’ve read from others far more quickly eloquent than I on the topic. Running is an egalitarian sport; while many of us can and do spend hundreds of dollars on shoes and gear and race entry fees per year, the point of running is that anyone can do it – all you need is a pair of shoes and a surface. So many people run because it’s their “happy place”, the time they can sort out difficult thoughts or soak up scenery or escape from stress for a while. To have that sacred space violated hurts, because it literally could have been anyone who’s ever run, or supported a runner, who was in the line of fire. Many are asking “why the Boston marathon?”, and I, like many, have no answer because it is completely senseless and despicable.

None of this changes the fact that I still love running. Reading stories of those who ran (some literally) to help the injured and the stranded has affirmed my belief that running does just as much for the mind and the spirit as it does for the body. I’m not going to stop running, not in little towns or big cities or anywhere in between. I will run because I love it, and because I can. The people in Boston, I’m sure, never thought they’d have that taken away from them like it was. I’m not taking that ability for granted from now on.

[deep breath] On a lighter note, I am running a small 5k in town this weekend which will end with pies – it’s run by my university’s engineering school, so they’re calling it the Pi(e) Miler and having us run 3.14 miles. Oh, nerds. 🙂 I probably will go for a PR again because it’s fun and because I can, and also because there’s pie, but until then I plan to take it easy on my runs and just enjoy the feeling of the ground disappearing underneath me.

One grateful step at a time.