I was first introduced to the Boston pride when I was a freshman at college in Rhode Island. From New York, I knew the spirit and pride that NYC held but Boston had something different. While it’s clearly demonstrated in its sports, it’s a pride that’s deep in roots and history, which can be felt throughout most of New England. I had often felt as the opposing New Yorker, smiling at their stubbornness but not feeling it within myself. That said, it’s undeniable to recognize that pride and strength, as many cities in a time of crisis, Boston is one that’s quick to come together to demonstrate its support.
When I moved up here a month and half ago, it wasn’t for the city itself, it was for the opportunities it offered me personally…part of that was knowing I would be able to find a spot in the running community. As of last week, I still hadn’t figured out how and where that spot was exactly. From my first day in Cambridge I saw my neighborhood filled with runners which provided a comfort as I adjusted to my new surroundings. In my list of differences between my old home and new, one major one was Central Park. While it certainly isn’t the only spot to run in NYC, the moment you step into the park, especially at Engineer’s Gate you feel the running community – something that I was newly a member of. There didn’t seem to be that central hub here.
I was still searching for it, determined to be in a groove before starting my own training for Chicago as I took note of the runners around me. On Saturday I was on Newbury street, crowded with people – many with yellow bags containing their packets for the Boston Marathon, some in the blue and yellow jacket. The first one I spotted was a husband with his wife and as I came up behind them waiting to cross the street, a part of me wanted to say something to him, to thank him for providing inspiration – because I was searching for it and being surrounded by all of these people who were not just gearing up to run a marathon but The Boston Marathon started to fill me with hope and strength and determination. Every runner has their story, we’re all overcoming a challenge of some sort. And while I may not have known what it took to bring everyone I saw to Boston, seeing that they were here was enough.
I turned on the TV to watch the marathon from the start, knowing the empowerment it would fulfill and remind me what I love about this sport. While there had been a fleeting idea to see it live, plans were never made – there wasn’t even a almost or what if moment. I am very grateful that all of my loved ones as well as myself are very very safe. Shocked, saddened and safe is what I told everyone who reached out. While I’ve been reminded of how much support I have more and more this year, I was touched yesterday by the stream of texts from NY as my Boston support system tried to process what just occurred. Heartbreaking was the word I constantly used. As I told my friends from college, it’s been too many emergency check-ins this year.
Unlike other events this year, I tried to limit my news intake, I turned instead to the running community through social media. I have never been prouder to be a part of such a community.
While I may not have a drawer full of race shirts, one was all I needed today. I wore my 2012 NYC Marathon one, a race that was never ran but a shirt that symbolizes so much. I wore it on a 3 mile run, one of my first since being here. I don’t think I have ever been more determined to get a run in somewhere in the day. From the start I had tears in my eyes. It wasn’t an easy run as I’ve lost endurance and stamina but nothing mattered – I was running because I can. I wore it to spin class where I was challenged and empowered. I had it at yoga where my legs trembled for being re-introduced to all this activity after quiet a lull. Tomorrow I will be sore. Tomorrow old injuries will nag. But it wont matter because it will serve as a reminder that no matter what the aches or twinges, I have a body that can do so much. I sit here in my first race shirt from a Turkey Trot so as I sleep I am reminded of the support and bond within this community.
There are so so many posts and tweets out there showing strength – people who were there, people who have dreamed of going, people who are now determined to cross that finish line, people who reflect on their love and reason for running. It was heartwarming to see not news broadcasting of facts (and mis-facts) but stories and personal thoughts. I will continue to bookmark and read the ones that come my way to serve as a reminder of the empowerment that comes from the running family.
Thank you runners, whether we have connected or not: you have inspired, you have motivated, you have understood, you have related, you demonstrated determination and strength, you have shown perseverance and dedication and you have provided comfort and condolence.