When I was little I shared a room with my brother. In our room we had a little tiny black and white tv. The tv’s screen was probably about 5 inches by 5 inches. We would plug it in, set it on a chair, and after 20 minutes of fiddling with the coat hanger stuck where the antenna goes we were able to tune into something on basic cable. At least twice a year the circus would come on. I didn’t care about anything but the magician. I couldn’t wait to see him. I would lay on the bed watching the tv just waiting for the magician to come on. I remember at least two times where I fell asleep and woke up to find that I had missed the magician, and I laid there and cried. This was a big deal to me; I spent all my spare money on magic tricks, put on mini magic shows at school for my classes, dressed as a wizard for Halloween and as Houdini for a 5th grade character report. Being a magician was my dream. Years have passed and that dream has faded. I still have a few magic tricks lying around and I love to bring out the deck of cards and play around but I have traded my wand and hat for a degree in accounting and finance. I remember that amazing feeling I would get as I watched those magicians and thought, “Someday that will be me.”
Now it’s been over 15 years since I’ve even considered that dream and today, after all those years that feeling returned. I sat in my bedroom studying for a corporate finance test and I suggested to my wife that she turn on the Boston Marathon on the computer and keep an eye on Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher for me. They were familiar names and I thought it would be fun to see how they did. I sat in the bedroom and once or twice she came in and gave me an update. When they hit mile 25 she let me know and I had to go and watch the last two miles. As I watched the screen cut back and forth between the women’s and the men’s race I was surprised at how I was feeling.
In two weeks it will be the one year anniversary of my first race ever. It was a 10k and at that time I had given about as much thought to running the Boston Marathon as I had to when I would be getting my first colonoscopy. I didn’t know it then but later that year I would run my first marathon and set a very informal goal of running the Boston Marathon by the time I was 40 years old. Now fast forward back to today. There I am standing in my kitchen and watching Rita Jeptoo and Lelisa Desisa cross the finish line and I felt like a kid at Christmas. I knew that someday I would be crossing that finish line. It’s hard to explain but I got a little choked up, and as I drove to class I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry. I had a dream.
As I was driving home from class a few hours later I received a text message from a friend that said, “Explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line, crazy huh?” I assumed it was fireworks or something for the other runners and I went home and googled it. I couldn’t believe it. Here was this beautiful thing that I had been so inspired by this morning and suddenly it was filled with tragedy, and horror. I didn’t know how to react so I put on my running shorts, laced up my shoes, and ran. No Garmin, no music, no distance, and no time. I ran, and for the second time today the Boston Marathon made me cry.
When asked about his win for the Elite Men’s division, Lelisa Desisa said of the group he was running with , “We push, we push, we push… I push and I see the finish line and I sprint because I had the force[strength]” I thought about this as I ran. So many people who were waiting for this triumphant moment, who have worked and trained so hard, only to have it tainted and ruined by this horrible act. But it will not last. My heart and prayers go out to them. We as a people will pick ourselves up and rise up stronger than ever. The Boston Marathon has always been a symbol of excellence, hard work, and dedication and it will continue to be. And for the amazing community of runners it will represent triumph over tragedy, pride over pain, and community and courage over crushed dreams. It’s not about the distance or the speed, it’s about the run and nothing can take that from us. We will push and push and when we see that finish line we will push again and sprint to the win!
(Photo courtesy of Paul, @runaday instagram.com)