It was just a couple of hours ago that I posted my thoughts about what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday. It was a struggle to find the words, but I knew that I needed to in order to begin my own process of moving forward from this tragedy.
Late in the afternoon, I saw a posting on Facebook that runners everywhere were being encouraged to meet at the nearest high school track tonight at 9 p.m. and run one mile for Boston. I shared the post among my local running group, the Mount Vernon Running Buddies, and hoped that the stormy weather would be done in time for me to participate.
Little did I know just how therapeutic one mile could be. It was dark and wet when we arrived at the high school track, but the rain had stopped. We all worked our way on to the track and the 10 of us gathered at the starting line. John Hofferberth, who is busy this week with all the final details for the Earth Day Challenge half marathon, said a couple of words and we took off.
I'm not used to not having a plan for my run. I'm also not used to just running a mile. I knew that I didn't want to go all out, but I also knew that I wanted to go hard enough that I was working at it. I thought about the victims and their families as I went around the oval. I didn't look at my watch. I knew that I was moving at a good clip, but it wasn't about that. I ended up doing five loops of the track instead of four because it just felt right.
When everyone had finished, we stopped for a moment and chatted as a group. We didn't all know each other before the event that only lasted about 10 minutes. But what I posted earlier today about running bringing people together was true as we all interacted like old friends. We talked about a few upcoming local events and one person shared how she had just started running again and had already run for two hours on the treadmill before coming to the track as she wanted to really start working hard to improve her fitness. Another person ran three miles barefoot to the track and then ran home afterwards. For me, it was the first time since August 3, 2011 that I had run on that track as I remember vividly leaving that day with really bad shin splints from pushing too much speed work. This time around I left with a great sense of pride in my running family as my mile felt like I was walking on air.
It may have only been one mile tonight, but it was many steps in the right direction towards the healing process for all of us in the running community and I'm so thankful that I was there.