Archive for April, 2013

April 23, 2013

I’ll never forget the first time I drove in the darkness of the pre-dawn to meet the group of women runners at Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. I was stunned to learn that a whole secret society convened early every Saturday morning with hundreds of runners meeting to run the route that provided the reward of a spectacular sunrise as we crested “the bridge” on Key Biscayne. Unbeknownst to the average, sleeping Miami resident, there are throngs of runners and walkers organized by charity, fitness levels, and general camaraderie, outfitted with the latest digital watches, special engineered shoes, energy snacks and hydration belts. All focused on accomplishing their mileage, precisely preplanned to train for the next “race”.

Health is a common motivator, either to begin a healthy routine or to maintain one, or to help those not healthy. Many of groups train specifically to run events and raise funds to fight cancers or a number of other life threatening illnesses.

This phenomenon of people of all sorts and sizes coming together early every Saturday morning to connect and run is extraordinary.
And yet it is also simple. Just one foot in front of the other, repeatedly, over and over and over.
And spectacular- A picture postcard backdrop with canopied trees, waterfront mansions, and eventually the waterside route sandwiched between the ocean and the bay, with the downtown skyscrapers and the cruise ships serving as the horizon line.

It is simple, it is special –
And it was safe.

Running etiquette protects runners from traffic and one another. The familiar warning: “runners back” will shift everyone to their right, slipping into single file to allow the faster to pass. And like boating, runners always stop to assist anyone enroute with an injury, or a fall.

Most running events are organized, fine -tuned machines, with well trained and abundant volunteers and staff, clearly marked routes, and ample, well placed hydration stations all along the course. Police are also a staple along the routes, leaning against their cruisers they have wedged into intersections to prevent rogue cars from “entering” the race. The officers are often some of the loudest of the cheerleaders as the runner streak by them. Medical personnel are always quickly available for the overheated, and the inevitable injuries. Safe and sound, all taken care of- all the runners have to do is show up and run.

It’s simple- one foot in front of the other, the next step and the next. Simple goals of further and faster. Attention has to be paid to the body, soreness or pain, road hazards of potholes, dog poop, and rude drivers, but for the most part, runners had assumed an innocence of security, especially during running events. That sense of safety was literally shattered by the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon last Monday.

Now running is associated with war -like images of carnage, the finish line no longer a symbol of joyful accomplishment, but a place of blood soaked horror.

We will need to pause, to absorb the reality of the irreplaceable losses and the deep pain. In that pause we turn toward one another with profound compassion and a compulsion to help one another to go on. These incidents only succeed in breaking our hearts – open. Injury and inhumanity may sideline us for a while, and we will walk if we have to, but we will continue on- together. It’s proven that violence does not solve anything and nor does it stop us from going forward.

I can guarantee to the perpetrators of Monday’s blast, that every single runner will be there again running that bridge this Saturday, and every Saturday morning thereafter. No one will stay away because of this, everyone is still running, and the ladies of my running group will be waiting for me there. The Boston Marathon will have just as many, if not more runners next year. We rebuild buildings, we send our children back to school, we hurt, we mourn, but we keep going.