I am not one to normally blog about things outside of my camping world here, and after this I will get back to it. It has taken me a day or so to process a little bit of what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon and I felt like I needed my humble thoughts to be written down in my corner of the web. It helps me, and maybe people who have similar feelings or pain will feel support in my words.
You see, I was born in Track Town USA (10 points extra if you live outside of Oregon and know the right answer to that bit of trivia!). I grew up on track and field, living 6 blocks from the famous Hayward Field and a mere 4 blocks from Pre’s Rock, a shrine of sorts that marks the spot where incredible Steve Prefontaine took his final breaths while neighbors tried in vain to lift his car from his chest after a horrible accident. As a child I went to the all-comers meets and brought home ribbons. I have run/walked 2 half-marathons in the city I love. I could hear every track meet from my bedroom window. I grew up watching Alberto Salazar, Mary Decker-Slaney and the U of O track team (as well as many neighbors, friends, high schoolers, and anyone in town for a track meet) run past my house while I sat quietly eating my Cheerios in the morning, like clock-work. We cheered every Olympics, watching our local runners on our TV. Zola Budd totally pushed Mary Decker and at a young age I was angry about that. Zola didn’t win though, neither did Mary, but I felt reassured in the fact the bully didn’t win. They never do.
I took my father-in-law to the Pre Classic in Eugene the year Paula Radcliffe went down in the Olympics and didn’t get her expected win. The big deal about that – most of England was hating her then, and my father-in-law who lives in London and has his whole life, was not super impressed when he saw she would be running that day. Tears came to his eyes as he saw both grand stands at Hayward Field stand for her as she ran by. And we stayed standing. We stood through her race and we stood through her victory lap and we cheered. We cheered her gladly, we boosted her up, and some times things go wrong, but we knew she was great and we showed her. He was stunned and took that home with him, and told everyone he came across how Track Town USA treats her runners. We boost them up, we cheer them on, and the bullies don’t win. Ever.
A bully, a terrorist, a low-life, selfish, unfeeling, terrible person tried to ruin something yesterday. Someone planted bombs and took 3 innocent lives. They injured nearly 175 people, taking their limbs, damaging their bodies, putting fear in them. That is not ok. Bullying on any level is not ok, and terrorist are some of the worst kind of bullies.
Here’s the thing – runners don’t quit. Runners don’t give up. Runners look at 26.2 miles, or 13.1 miles, or a 5K and say, ‘yep, I can do that’. And they do! Runners are not people you mess with. They are not just individuals, they are a community. Some might even take it a step further and call it a religion. They look out for their own. Geez, they look out for everyone else too, considering how many were running the marathon for various charities. The runners are going to come back. You might have scared us for the day, the week, the month, but people are already running again. You have hurt us, but we will come back, and we will fight, runner and non-runner alike. You know why? Because bullies don’t win. They can’t win. We won’t let them. Not at Track Town USA, not in Boston, MA.
As for Boston, they picked a pretty strong city to try and beat, and Boston doesn’t take it lightly. And the thing is, they are not beaten. Not at all. In fact, they are going to win. They were ready to take care of the injured. They ran into the blast, not away from it. They were ready – they didn’t want it, they didn’t ask for it, but they will recover and be stronger in the end. My grandmother was from Massachusetts, and she was a strong woman. You didn’t mess with her, and she wasn’t even from Boston! She ran into a fight, she wouldn’t let bullies win, and I know Boston and Massachusetts and all Americans aren’t going to let the bullies win.
So with that, I am going to dedicate today’s blog to the people who run. To the people who were in the marathon. The people cheering the marathoners. The volunteers. The survivors and the fallen. The people who ran to help. To all of you, I am standing and I am clapping and I am cheering as my heart breaks a little bit. I am here to boost you up and support you through the fear and the healing. I am here to support everyone of you, and your families, and your friends because we can’t let the bullies win. Ever.