I've sensed the sheer elation that comes from forcing my limbs to cross the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles. The relief, the joy, the wonder. It's all so indescribable until you've taken the 26.2-mile journey yourself--until you've triumphed over something few people are crazy enough to ever venture.
I am runner.
When I picture their haggard bodies crossing that finish line with one final burst of determination, when I envision their tears of joy and pain as they neared the end, when I imagine their thoughts "Almost there, almost there," when I think of the hundreds of innocent bystanders cheering on the Olympians, the moms, the lifelong friends, the siblings, the marathoners . . .
My world seems to close in on me for a moment. Everything goes dark. And I'm left wondering, like everyone else, why.
I am a runner.
Running for me is freedom. It's safety. It's the friend who always loves you back. It's the mother who's caring arms are always there to carry you. It's the empowerment of putting one foot in front of the other, gloriously abandoning that stupid voice in your head that keeps telling you to quit.
And yesterday, yesterday's tragedy violated that. It stripped the running community of our sense of security and accomplishment. This cruel, broken world completely leveled us. And we're all, runner or not, trying to understand.
I am a runner.
In less than two weeks, when I find my corral at the Oklahoma City Memorial marathon, I'm going to stand tall. I'm going to be silent for 170 seconds for those innocent lives lost in the bombing 18 years ago in OKC. And yesterday in the bombing at Boston.
I'm going to run because I never want to live in a place of fear. I'm going to run to show the bombers that they didn't win. I'm going to run to prove that the running community is just that, a community. We band together. We hurt together. We stick together, mile after stinking mile. We bleed together. And we race together.
I am a runner, and I'm going to run to remember.