Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I am a runner.

I am a runner.
I run in the rain.
I run in the snow and in the scorching heat.
I run when I am happy. 
I run when I am sad.
I run and some days, laugh the entire time.
I run alone.
I fun with friends.
I run on treadmills, on the street, in the woods and through cities.
I run to beat my own time.
I run to beat yours.
I run with my dog lagging behind me.
I run when I'm tired.
I run when I want to sweat.
I run when I want to think.
I run to stay in shape.
I run to stay sane. 
I run through pain.
I run to heal. 
I am a runner.

The events that happened this week at the finish line at the 117th Boston Marathon are unthinkable. A finish line is a happy place - a place where you can celebrate your victory or the fact that your race is over. The Boston Marathon is known by all runners as the marathon to run. I was lucky to be a finisher at the Philadelphia Marathon and celebrate with my family and friends steps after I crossed the finish line.

It was one of the best moments of my life. It wouldn't have been complete if my parents,  brother, sister-in-law and friends weren't there along the 26.2 miles, on that very chilly, November morning. They stood there selflessly, drinking warm drinks, wearing winter coats, hats and gloves, for the fleeting moments they would get a glimpse of me, running past them in a flash of pink. My dear friend, Carolyn, with her new baby, husband, dog and parents all stood in the cold to see me run that morning.

It was my family and friends, and the millions of spectators, who kept me going. They cheered for me, by name (that was on my bib), told me I looked pretty (I laughed out loud and thanked that spectator) and gave me high fives to encourage me. I thanked each person who cheered for me that day and will always be grateful for their presence.

It is the spectators I will never forget on my final .2. During the last leg of the race, I took my earphones off, and listened. I took it all in. I wanted to absorb every last cheer, sound, and smell that day.

As I entered into the last few steps, I looked through the crowd and saw only one familiar face - my friend Adrienne, who stood above the crowd. I hugged her at mile 20 and here she was again - I couldn't believe it. That is a true friend who only wanted to see me finish something truly important to me.

And there it was, the finish line. I had been dreaming about this moment since my training began four months earlier. And I was crossing it. And just like that, it was over, in what can only be described as the fastest four hours of my life.

In the finishers' corral, a volunteer had my medal in her hand and I thanked her expecting she'd hand it to me. She smiled and said, "You just finished a marathon, let me put your medal on you." After I weaved my way through a packed area with my space blanket around me, I found my fans - Adrienne, my parents, Chip and Lauren, and that's when I started to cry. I cried because I finished, for their love and support and for the sheer joy that it was over.

And sadly, thousands of runners, volunteers, parents, husbands, wives, children, and friends, were robbed of this same joy at the Boston Marathon.

What happened on Monday was terrible. But I know the spectators were doing what they do best, for the runners who were doing something they love. 

And tomorrow, along with countless other Philadelphia runners and running clubs, we'll do what we love. We'll all just go for a run and think of our friends and fellow runners.

If you haven't seen this amazing tribute, take a look. 

Dedicated to the race organizers, volunteers, emergency personnel, runners and fans.

Your friend, a runner.

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