Saturday, April 20, 2013
I am a Runner
The other night I was out with a friend who was referencing something else in our conversation when she said, “We (as humans) need to be loved. We need to be hugged and held and touched. We are a species that needs constant support from one another–both physical and emotional.” And she was exactly right. In the past week, this has been more apparent than ever. In times of utter chaos, sadness, and loss, we find a way to come together, to reach out and hold onto one another, for support and reassurance that we are going to be okay.
I am a runner. When I think about whom I turn to, where my community is, and whom I can count on, it is often my running family. This is a family that meets rain or shine. Even when we have pulled an all nighter, we don’t sleep in to miss a run. Even when it is blowing horizontal sleet and rain, we don’t substitute the outdoors for a treadmill. We come together, unplugged from our phones and our computes, leaving the music behind, to talk, to listen and to share.
On bad days, we vent for miles, complaining of aches and pains, not just in our legs, but in our hearts and minds, our relationships, our work, and at home. We share the big news, the engagements, the new homes or apartments, the pregnancies, and the promotions. We log miles unloading our hopes and dreams, our fears and our worries. We have laughed until our lungs burn and our check bones hurt from smiling. We have stopped mid run to cry and hold one another. We push one another to be the best we can be. We leave no one behind and we celebrate every step, every milestone, every personal best.
I think of the countless times that I have gathered with dear friends and total strangers to take part in something that I love, that we love. Running is not just an exercise, a race shirt or a medal–it is a community, a network, and a family. All the miles that we log, pushing ourselves, enduring blisters, ugly toes, and sore muscles purely for the joy of being together, purely for the feeling that you can only understand if you, yourself, are a runner.
This week as I pulled an old race shirt over my head, slid into my running tights, and laced up my shoes, my heart felt heavy. As I made my way to the waterfront, dodging cars and pedestrians, I missed my running family back home. I felt a gaping hole in my chest, and I couldn’t catch my breath. Just when I wanted to stop and walk, just as I was about to turn around, just when I wanted to head for home, I saw them, my running community. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know a single runner on the bike path. We all felt a connection. Sporting our race shirts in solidarity for Boston, reflecting on this weeks past events, we all fell into stride. We didn’t exchange words, but instead, pounded the pavement knowing we were there for each other, knowing that we represented something bigger, knowing that we were thankful for every step, every mile, every memory. We are runners and nothing is ever going to change that.
This cup is for Boston
And my running family
(Because we never stop running.)