I love running, and I especially love racing. I love the anticipation leading up to and the excitement of the race expo – Technical tees donning advertisement for the race, running memorabilia in the form of everything from bumper stickers to occasional opportunities to meet a running elite.
I don’t love frantically scrubbing my apartment clean; but I do love making homemade marinara to accompany pasta, meat sauce, salad, and garlic bread for an evening of carb loading with my running buddies signed up for the same race.
I love the combination of anxious butterflies fluttering inside the walls of my stomach; thinking through racing strategy; and telling myself things like, “You’re good, you’ve GOT this!” minutes before the gun.
And, let’s not forget the race bib – especially when it includes your name on it – that will shortly thereafter include my racing stats on the back and join my wall of bibs for the year:
Races are the only things that can get this nocturnal gal to bed early on a weekend night and up at way too early an hour on a weekend morning. No matter how much I might prefer at times to point and click the remote at the bright glow of late-night television or groan and hit the ‘snooze’ button, one eye open, the next day, I love every bit of it.
I love thinking about what I’m going to wear for that particular race, always hoping that my hair stays in my hair clips during the race, looking forward to my fellow racing peeps cheering me on at the finish after they cross the line before me. In all truth, I sometimes even imagine them waiting and cheering me along painful or boring stretches of runs to motivate me.
I have no doubt that thousands of my fellow runners felt the same rush – a feeling only the long awaited anticipation of a big race can bring – this morning as they physically and mentally prepared for the Boston Marathon, including my NC running BFF Melissa!
I, of course, wasn’t there myself, but I was most eagerly there in spirit while following along with the race from live online coverage as well as occasional text messages providing me updates on Melissa’s pace and progress.
I got the final text message telling me Melissa’s finishing time shortly after my only work meeting of the day. Not only did she PR like I ABSOLUTELY knew she would. She SMASHED her previous PR, set two years ago at the Boston Marathon, by about six minutes! Told you she is a forced with which to be reckoned! You can bet I will wear the new shirt she bought me with pride this summer as I train for my first marathon:
Unfortunately, many other Boston Marathon competitors never crossed the finish line today. Most unfortunately, many race attendants were severely wounded; and some have lost their lives, painting a day that I can only imagine is one of the most anticipated and exciting days in Boston all year with devastation and fear.
The news hit me pretty hard, and I couldn’t help but ask the same question as millions of others for the remainder of the day: Why? I was glued to as much media as I could soak up all afternoon until I met up with Jess for our Monday night jaunt around UNC’s campus.
We talked about the incident, and Jess patiently listened as I told her about how much it bothered me, how strongly it affected me both as another human being wanting answers for the senseless destruction and as a runner vicariously living the excitement of one of the biggest days of the running calendar year through Melissa and the thousands of others in Boston.
I think that brief break from the media to do something I love and have turned to time and time again to feel better was just what I needed. That was one of the fastest paces, if not the fastest pace, we’ve ever run together.
And, as if being an irreplaceable workout buddy and friend wasn’t enough, Jess said something to me afterward that reminded me just how proud I am to be a member of such an amazing group of individuals – the running community. “I wanted to run anyway; but I also felt like we should, for Boston.”
Unforseen danger can lurk around any corner, no matter how much we might plan ahead and take care to avert or combat it. This doesn’t mean, though, that we shouldn’t continue to live our lives for fear of finding ourselves in a losing battle of risk.
I look forward to future attempts to qualify for the Boston Marathon and maybe even one day finding myself choosing a running outfit, tying back my hair, hearing my running BFFs shout my name above a cheering crowd as I near the Boston Marathon finish line. And I sincerely hope that everyone reading right now will approach any of their life-long goals just the same, runner or not. We will run on.
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.