The tragic events in Boston have deeply affected me. I understand many of you are not runners and yet it is shocking to you as well.
Here is the thing that bothers me most. Running is a peaceful non contact sport for individuals and FAMILIES.
The Boston Marathon is like the Superbowl, Stanley Cup Final, The World Series, The Masters of the marathon circuit. It is the race the distance runners dream of because you just can’t enter. You have to earn it.
(effective for 2013 race)
||3 hrs 35min
||3 hrs 40min
||3 hrs 45min
||3 hrs 55min
||4 hrs 0min
||4 hrs 10min
||4 hrs 25min
||4 hrs 40min
||4 hrs 55min
||5 hrs 10min
||5 hrs 25min
If you are 80 and older you have to run 26.2 miles or 42.195km in 4 hours and 55 minutes for men and 5 hours and 25 minutes for women.
Think about that. I am half that age and I hope to finish my first marathon in under 7 hours. Boston is a big deal. People my age are finishing that distance it what it takes me to finish HALF that distance. Sure I am slow, sure I am new to this sport but that speed is amazing.
So lets talk about how far 26.2 miles is. Let’s say you wish to start at the southeast corner of Edmonton by my neighborhood. I will come to the start line with you at 17st and Whitemud freeway. I will wish you luck, ring the cowbell, and begin worrying about you as you run west.
You will keep on the Whitemud until you get to the Anthony Henday and head north towards Hwy 16. Then head west because you are not finished yet, until you get to a new City called Spruce Grove. Don’t think you are done yet, do you? Because you are not. Run past Century road until you get to King Street. Just past King is where you can stop. This is only a half a kilometer away from Calihoo Road. Now RUN that in the corresponding time from your age group listed above.
The big question is, why do people do this? Well, it isn’t for prizes or cash or fame and fortune, it is to see what you are made of. It is as simple as that. When you train to be a distance runner, you train yourself to handle pain. We need to be clear, it hurts and it hurts regularly. Distance runners need mind control and focus. You need to be okay with being alone with your thoughts. You need to be proficient at clearing negative thoughts during your run or the wheels fall off pretty fast.
This is just what the runner goes through on race day. There are weeks and weeks of training, miles and miles put on those shoes. Those shoes wear out around 400 miles so have plenty on hand. The runner sits in ice baths after a run to reduce swelling, they eat while training to maintain energy, puke when they have pushed too far, lose toenails and fill their shoes with blood. None of these are pleasant side effects.
So why do it?
You sleep great. You breath deeper than you can possibly imagine. Your body craves running. You glow. You clear your head. You think of great things. You can plan and work out any problem. There is solidarity in running. The running community is something you have never experienced before. Someone falls, the next person along helps them finish even though it slows their own personal time. We work together to finish. We are a global team.
So why does the Boston tragedy hurt so much? Because runners and their families are a peaceful community. No one gets boos, everyone gets cheered for. The last person over the finish line is treated like a rockstar, just like the first person over the line. It isn’t a race for the win, it is a race to the finish.
Runners are a non political force. We share our space, our support and our water, protein and gels.
The question remains, WHY?
We all will speculate forever but it doesn’t change the fact that 23336 people crossed the start line. 17580 crossed the finish line. That means 5756 people didn’t finish. 5756 people didn’t complete their dream of finishing the Boston Marathon. 5756 people’s families were waiting to hear how it went, waited at the finished line, or just waited to hear a phone call that wouldn’t come.
I think about my team mates who were in Boston and who thankfully are fine. I think about how peaceful races are now forever changes. I think about my children waiting for me at the finish line and how little Martin Richard age 8 was waiting for his dad to cross the finish line and his family will never be the same.
As a running community, I smiled when I heard the finishers ran to donate blood.
I am joining them.
If you are Canadian you go to Canadian Blood Services and fill out the info online and they will contact you. It’s simple, you save a life or 3 and you get a cookie. I’m donating blood because I am a runner and who knows, one of us may need it one day.