I have only been seriously running for a few months.
I flirted with running for a while, never really committing. Running people were scary. Fast. Too fast for me to catch up to, and definitely too fast for me to keep up with.
So i started running by myself. Or with Chuck, who is the best running partner EVER, because she runs at the exact same pace as I do, in her stroller Or with my son, who hardly ever calls me a slowpoke and only occasionally runs actual circles around me.
Running people intimidated me.
Today is the one year anniversary of the Boston bombings. And all day, I’ve been reminded of the kindness of humans. The resilience of runners. The amazing things we as a country can do when confronted with hate and anger and damage.
Most runners are inherently good people. Think of it this way: you have to have an incredible amount of time management skills to find the time to run; be self-motivating to continue pounding the pavement over and over, rain and snow and sleet and hail like a speedy mailman; have enough self esteem to know that you can do this, drive to push yourself to do it and the smarts to know that this is not usually a competition against other people….it’s a competition against the person you were this morning. Or yesterday.
You also have to constantly adapt to your body. To your surroundings. To the people around you. You make small changes in your gait when that twinge starts in your foot. Or your knee tells you when you’re over extending. Or the dog in front of you starts doing his business in the middle of the path and you have to take a second to pull the plastic bag out of your stroller and hand it to the dog owner who is obviously not going to pick it up….
But I digress.
I was passed by a lady three times on my long run last week. Three times. She was a little speed demon, running with no headphones and the biggest smile on her face.
I was hauling me, the stroller and Chuck (and the 84 pounds of snacks and entertainment necessary to keep Chuck occupied on a long run) up the biggest hill I have on my route. It was hot. I was miserable and ready to quit.
She said “Look at you! you are doing so amazing and HOLY SMOKES! That’s a big kid in that stroller! I thought it was a baby and I am SO IMPRESSED WITH YOU RIGHT NOW!”
I beamed and Chuck waved and blew kisses at her and said “My mommy is a RUNNER!”
The lady said “Yes she is, and a very good one at that.”
And went on her way.
The rest of my run that day, I had a big smile on my face. She passed me twice more (we run an “out and back” from a local park near the water and she passed out and back and then out again) and every time she waved and said “Stay the course!” and made me smile all over again.
Stay the course. That is what so many people returning to Boston to run the marathon are doing. They can’t stop. And they won’t stop.
And I hope every one of them crosses that finish line with a big smile on their face as runners, as Americans, as human beings….demonstrating that we stay the course. We runners, we Americans, we humans….we stay the course.