This afternoon I received an email.
It was a statement put out by the Eugene Marathon, which Jason and I are running in at the end of the month. We are only running the half marathon, but the marathoners and half-marathoners run part of the course together. We're all runners.
I didn't have to open the email to know what the organizers would say. That today's events are heartbreaking. That the race would go on despite the horrors that happened at Boston. That city officials would work hard to insure the safety of runners.
We'll run. Of course, we'll run. There is no consideration of not running.
It's the same words I hear people saying about running in Boston next year. Of course I'll run it.
The thing about the Boston Marathon that non-runners may not know is that you have to qualify to get into it. I can't run in Boston. Jason can't run in Boston. My brother Jake ran it last year, and could have run it again this year if he wanted, but that's because his times are good enough to get into it. He had to run a 3:05 to get in; I'd have to run a 3:40. You know, a mere 90 minutes off my Portland time.
People train their whole running careers to get into Boston and don't make it. My mom tried a few times and missed it by only a few minutes. Part of the reason Jake ran it is because no matter how many other marathons he had participated in, people always asked him, "Have you run Boston?" It's the marathon to be in.
The people who ran in the Boston Marathon today have been looking forward to this day for months, years maybe.
This day, circled on their calendar, has been in their sights for a long time.
For me, that's what makes today's tragedy extra heartbreaking. If you haven't ever participated in a race, whether as a participant or spectator, then you may not know what's happening on the course. All along the route, runners hear people cheering, strangers telling you to keep up the good work. Bands play music, water station volunteers give high fives. And in my experience as both a participant and a spectator, the finish line of a marathon is like nothing else: the air is filled with triumph and celebration, and people are coming together to celebrate the endurance of the human body.
This day, for tens of thousands of people, was supposed to be a day unlike an ordinary day. It was, and not for the reasons they circled April 15 on their calendar.
When I think of it all--the triumph marred by the terror--it makes me so sad for all those runners, and the organizers, and the families who lost loved ones. Some runners may not run on their own legs again. Some familes are planning funerals for next week. It doesn't make sense.
What does make sense, however, is that we will run again.
No monster takes away our race.
We will lace up our shoes, we will eat those awful protein bars, we will stand at the starting line again. The air will again fill with triumph and celebration because that is what we do.
We will run again, Boston.