There’s nothing like participating in a race. As someone who fancies herself a runner, I love competing in events, even if they’re little 5K’s. There are months of training and preparation, in order to successfully complete the course. Anticipation builds in the week preceding race day; and sometimes it’s all you can do, to get sufficient sleep the night before. The thrill of claiming your race packet that contains your commemorative t-shirt and the most important article: your number. That piece of paper, sometimes with a disposable chip attached is the proof that you’re really going to do this. You have a number and everything. Holy cow, this is actually happening. I’m a proper runner and I’m going to race!
The first time I competed was a golden experience. My nephew, friend Christina and her little daughters were my personal support team. I heard them cheering me as the race began; and shouting as I approached the finish line. There were hugs, kisses and high-fives all around. She introduced me to her elite runner friends. You know…the ones who take home all the top prizes? Even though you don’t know everybody, the badge of honour is clearly displayed on your chest; and you have the sweaty clothes to prove it. You don’t ever leave straightaway. Everybody’s hanging out to compare times and experiences, while snacking on complimentary healthy foods. Sometimes, there are free massages and always stuff for the little kids to enjoy.
Races are family events. Elders, youngsters, teenagers and young adults all come together, to run together. Passers-by stop for a while to cheer the runners on and enjoy the ambiance, the adrenaline and the excitement. As an amateur runner, a marathon is a goal more akin to a dream. Of course, you dream big and it’s the big races you want to do: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and of course, Boston. Oh, Boston. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears on Monday afternoon, watching the tragedy unfold on CNN. The videos and extremely graphic photos have been clogging up our social media timelines since then. While it’s becoming slightly easier to pick sense from nonsense, we still don’t know the who’s or why’s. It’s glaringly apparent that the fear of the unknown had taken root and is going to inflict ongoing damage.
The fear of the unknown is currently taking form in the fear of public garbage cans. This was once a necessity for public events of any kind, and their presence was a good thing. Now it’s a different story, as authorities are removing them from the route of an upcoming 5K in Orlando, Florida. Over a decade later, global air travel is still a royal pain because of 9/11 and now we’re afraid of garbage cans on public streets? It’s utterly, completely and mind-numbingly wrong. It’s also beyond unfair and even if they find out who and why, the fear will always be there. The fear of brown-skinned people, youths in hoodies, backpacks, pressure cookers, sneakers and plastic cutlery will always be there. The onus is on us to say, to heck with the fear and go running.
We have an enemy who wants to break us, but they don’t know who they’re messing with. We’re runners and that makes us fighters. We fight the mind-killer every single time we lace up our shoes and step onto the road or treadmill; but we do it anyway. We fight feelings of low self-esteem and self-consciousness as we jiggle around in public; but we do it anyway. We fight the sun, the rain, the wind, the pain shooting in our legs and burning the soles of our feet; but we do it anyway. We fight because nothing worth anything in this world comes easy. They may have broken our hearts, but they will never break our spirits. We will fight and run race, not only for ourselves, but for our families and now for Boston.
Boston, this song’s for you. We’ll hardly get through it without crying but we’re going to sing it for you anyway.