Running for Boston
In the fall of 1993, at the ripe old age of seven, I followed my older brother to Portage Park a couple blocks from our house to our grade school's cross country team practice. In what I'm sure was a pretty pathetic effort, I ran my mile around the park as fast as my little legs could carry my 4-foot-and-change, 50-something-pound body. From that day forward, I was hooked. As humans we are by nature social creatures. We seek out others and find a place where we fit in -- a community to belong to. Me, I'm a member of the running community, and I will be until the day I die.
It was about a year ago that my community came under attack as two explosions rocked the finish of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Growing up, I remember the news coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, the shootings at Columbine, and of course the attacks on 9/11. While they were all tragedies in their own right, the attacks on Boylston Street that Monday morning really got to me. For me, this wasn't just an attack on Boston or even the nation as a whole. No, to me, this was an attack on my community -- this was an attack on my people. The night of the attacks, my sister (also an avid runner) and I took part in a "Unity Run" in Chicago; one of many happening all over the country. Throughout the short 30-minute jog, I kept thinking to myself, "Us runners, this is what we do. When we feel pain, we push through it. When we get injured, we keep going. And when one of us falls, the rest of us are there to pick that person up."
In the aftermath of the attacks, my other community stepped up in a big way. The medical teams at the various hospitals performed flawlessly. Physical and occupational therapists in conjunction with prosthetists and orthotists have helped the hundreds of injured get back on their feet. I was reading some of the many stories online about the victims' rehab progress and it was honestly hard to hold back the tears. In one article an emergency room nurse from one of the hospitals in Boston said, "No one who made it to a hospital that day died. That's pretty remarkable." Indeed it is and the countless hours that the rehab professionals have put in (many pro bono including free prosthetic legs, outpatient PT, and use of gym equipment) has really been inspiring.
The 2014 Boston Marathon is next Monday. Amid unprecedented security, some 36,000 runners will line up to race back to Boylston Street, thousands of whom raced last year but couldn't finish because of the attacks. And me? Come Monday night I'll be out again on the streets of Chicago running. Running for Boston. Running for my community. Running for my people.