Bent, Not Broken

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“I bend and do not break.”
Jean de La Fontaine

While I find it hard to put to words exactly what I’m feeling right now regarding Boston, that quote seems to sum it up perfectly.  I think the running community would agree with me.  We are a network made up of hundreds of thousands of resilient persons who know no stranger.  It doesn’t matter your body type, skill level, ethnicity, gender or income level – you are accepted into the running community.  Even though we may have never met, we band together as a community.  We cheer each other on as a community.  We grieve as a community.

That’s what makes the bombings on Monday so hard to reconcile.  Like the school shooting in Newtown, I just keep wondering why?  WHY?  Why would someone do this?

I attended an impromtu 5k prayer run last night put together by our local running store, Run-n-Tri.  With less than 12 hours of planning, almost 400 runners showed up to support those affected by the bombings.  That’s the community that I’m talking about.  We band together in support of each other. We accept and love everyone.

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As a runner, something (I feel) that the media has missed out on capturing is the essence of The Boston Marathon.  In the running world, Boston is the equivalent of the Olympics. It isn’t just a race that you flippantly sign up for.  Many of those runners have dedicated years of their lives trying to qualify and get into Boston.  As far as life events go, running The Boston Marathon is up there right next to getting married, having kids or graduating college.  What should have been a day of jubilation for these runners will now forever be overshadowed by someone’s, or some group’s, act of terrorism.  My heart breaks for each and every person who ran on Monday.

Equally as upsetting are the innocent spectators that were killed and hurt; 179 people in total, 176 injured and 3 killed.  Most of those 179 casualties on Monday were spectators.  Family and friends who were there to revel in their loved one’s accomplishments.  Strangers who came out to soak up the exciting race atmosphere and cheer on runners. Spectators are the lifeblood of any running event.  They are always there on the sideline with a high-five, an encouraging cheer, a funny sign or a cool drink – all for the benefit of the runners.  Spectators are completely selfless individuals yet some coward(s) chose purposely to attack them.

As upset and angry as I am about the bombings, my hope in humanity is not shattered.  In fact, there have been countless stories that have warmed my heart over the past day and a half.  Stories of runners who finished the race but kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, the story of the former NFL football player who ran into the danger and carried an injured woman to safety, stories of Bostonians opening their hearts and homes/businesses to stranded runners. There is good in just about any bad situation, you just have to look closely enough.

This is what the spirit of the marathon is about, camaraderie.  And that’s what someone(s) tried to take away from us.  However, what they didn’t count on is how resilient the running community is and how protective America is when we’re attacked.  We might have bent a little bit, but one thing is for sure, these bombings did not break us.  Nor will they break us.  If anything, they just made our resolve that much stronger. They made our running community much more closely knit.  This weekend, we runners will leave our homes and run our races; we will not live in fear.  We will high-five the spectators and hug our loved ones tightly at the finish line.  And when we do, we will all remember Boston and know that we’re honoring them by running.

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11 thoughts on “Bent, Not Broken

  1. So many heroic stories – but I’m still wondering why…why would someone do this?? there’s no reasoning with it, but I know one thing’s for sure: the running community is a big one and whomever did it messed with the wrong people xoxo

  2. I love this. The bombings didn’t break us. It’s making us stronger as a community. This was such a horrific day that we will forever remember but hopefully we as a country are able to focus on the good parts more than the bad. Like running to donate blood after they finished. That’s one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever heard.

  3. I love this. So many stories out of this are terrifying and gutting, but there are just as many that capture the essence of the running community, and those are the ones I’m going to remember.

  4. The running community is an amazing thing. It welcomes you the first moment you decide to be a runner and it holds onto through injury and absence. Once a runner, always a runner. Thank you for pointing out the importance of Boston to all runners and their families, as well as the selfless act of being the spectator.

  5. Read your post this morning on my phone, just now able to leave a comment with computer 🙂 I totally agree with everything you say. It is also comforting to know that so much love and support can surface even in the face of tragedy. Bostonians have certainly set an excellent example for how to face tragedy head on, as well as all of the race participants, volunteers and spectators.

    I wrote a short post yesterday about my plan to support the Big Sur Marathon finishers after my Big Sur 9 miler race since there will be runners from the Boston Marathon competing in the Boston 2 Big Sur Marathon challenge.

    Again, I think its great you ran last night with 400 other people 🙂 I’ll be running before/during the presidential interfaith memorial service tomorrow morning (8am PST/11am EST) in memory of the fatalities and casualties from the bombings.

  6. so very well spoken, my sweet! you are such an amazing soul. these tragedies hurt so badly because we feel helpless and cannot process or fathom such evil in the world. fortunately it does make us stronger, though. I think that the famous mr. rogers quote says it best: “when i was a boy and i would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. you will always find people who are helping.’ to this day, especially in times of disaster, i remember my mother’s words and i am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” we may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. keep on running. keep on shining. keep on spreading god’s love and kindness. I love you, lady!

  7. There’s a quotation circulating the social media outlets from Mr. Rogers (well, technically his mother): “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

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