I’d like to take some liberties of my own in that regard. You see, Matt and I are in the same morning running group that meets at least three times a week to run our Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway together. Matt and I, along with the other group members, have had many conversations about the camaraderie of runners.
We acknowledge the “unwritten rules” that govern fellow runners, such as assisting others on the course, forgiving questionable fashion combinations, keeping certain conversations personal to the run, sharing physical and nutritional tips and many other running and nonrunning items.
I first heard of the Boston attack through a text from my son (also a runner). As I watched the events unfold, I found anger rising up within me because I could identify with this tragedy on a personal level. I have been blessed to run 43 half marathons and I know so well the cheers from bystanders at the finish line of every race who are there to encourage you those last few yards. Though they may be looking for a friend or a loved one, the fans cheer all runners. These supporters who serve as such an inspiration as I cross that finish line were the primary victims at Boston.
The morning after the attacks, the main topic among our group was, of course, Boston. We all shared and I had to curb my emotions to not express the choice words I had for the unnamed terrorist(s). In addition to the supporters I described above, we talked about the runners who had trained for months, investing time, emotion, money and energy to make it to this pinnacle of running events; how it was supposed to end with joy, laughter and celebration, but was replaced by sadness, tears and prayers.
On April 27, I will run the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. I am looking forward to the intense emotion and resolve, which I am sure will still be raw among the runners that day. I believe the events of Boston may attract more people to take up running, just as 9/11 sparked an influx of volunteers to the armed forces. Today, I am grateful for our Greenway, which has served as my training ground and gathering place for this lifestyle I do not take for granted.
As I write this column, authorities were hinting an arrest was imminent. I hope the person or persons ultimately convicted will, as President Obama stated on the day of the attack, “feel the full weight of justice.” Our prayers continue for the victims and their families, and may the running community be even more united in the wake of this attack on a tradition we love so much.