I have been wanting and needing to write a blog post since the 15th. I’ve started writing it in my head several times but just couldn’t get the words out for the blog. Forgive me in advance if this goes a bit all over the place.
In remembrance at the starting area of the NYRR Run for the Parks 4 mile race. (c) Stacey Cooper
Here’s a quick recap of my connection to the Boston Marathon. I know several people who have run it in the past and I knew about 12 people who ran it this year and several more who were cheering and even volunteering at the event. Some missed the events (that’s all I can call it right now is an event) by minutes and others by an hour. Thankfully, everyone I know is safe and sound.
I am not fast enough to run Boston but I respect it from having run the NYC Marathon. The marathon is sacred in the running community and Boston is our Holy Grail if you will. While all of us were attacked on that day, it was personal for runners.
We may not know each other by name but if you run a lot of races in New York City you recognize the faces. We are a community. A community that supports one another. Seriously, I have never seen such a supportive group of people whether it’s cheering each other on during a race or standing in a very long line at NYRR headquarters to buy a “I run for Boston” shirt. I recently read that approximately 50 percent of the funds raised for the One Fund Boston have come from the running community.
It was no surprise then that the NYRR Run for the Parks four mile race on Sunday Central Park was going to be big. Yes, it was going to be the first major running event with new security measures (more on that later) but it was really our chance to get out and run to show people how strong our community is.
I’ve said before on this blog that running helps me maintain the status quo on the normal days, celebrate the great days, and heal on the bad days. I don’t know a runner who didn’t feel that this past week and running in this race certainly helped us on our path to healing.
It was great to see everyone wearing the “I run for Boston” bibs on the back of their shirts and to see the sea of BAA blue and yellow along the course. Our community has united, like it did by volunteering in Staten Island after the NYC Marathon was canceled, in tremendous ways and I believe we will always continue to do that — hopefully for less tragic events.
It was a little strange to see such an extensive increase in security for our little four mile race. The procedures put in place were somewhat similar to the larger NYRR events like the marathon, NYC Half Marathon, and Brooklyn Half Marathon. Everyone received a clear plastic to put items in to check and no one was allowed in to certain areas without their bib. I have never seen a more secure porta potty section at a race in my life! On one hand, you are grateful that NYRR and the NYPD have extensive history on providing this type of security but saddened that we have to do it at all.
But even with all that, as NYPD Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly mentioned, it is almost impossible to completely protect open road races. One such incident did occur on Sunday when someone tried to ride their bike through a secure area of the park. The person did not stop when told and was eventually tacked. As I was running by at about the 3.5 mile mark we were moved off the road but told to keep running along. As I looked toward the policy activity I saw a police officer testing the cardboard box inside the guys back back for explosives. THAT IS NOT COMFORTING AT ALL! Thankfully it was just a timing gadget for kayaks. But nonetheless, I could have done without that.
Nothing is going to stop me from running because I need to run and I have more faith in humanity than I do in deranged evil people. In fact, I was reminded of a line that Hugh Grant’s character says in the movie Love Actually.
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.
Yes, that is an underrated movie but applies in so many ways. After the event at the Boston Marathon I saw more love, kindness, and compassion than anything else. And to tie this all back into running, that is what I have always felt when I have run the NYC Marathon. All those amazing people cheering us on, wishing us well, and providing the occasional cookie or orange.
Later today I will register for the NYC Marathon and next week for the 2014 London Marathon. I will keep running, perhaps with a slightly heavier heart, but I do know that the running will make it light again.