Thursday, April 18, 2013

Runners Are Made to Heal, I Am a Runner, and I Will Heal

Much has been written and said in the last few days about how both Boston and the running community will respond to Monday’s bombings. Dennis Lehane couldn’t have expressed the “Boston” part better, while much of the Runner’s World staff, which was either running the race or covering it from the press tent, has captured the confusion, resolve, contemplation, solace and even the happy memories of the “running” part.

The question now, of course, is how we heal. For me, it hasn’t been easy. Monday was a day of distraction, Tuesday of emotion and Wednesday of equal parts helplessness and frustration.

By Thursday, though, I’d improved. Yes, I monitored coverage of the interfaith memorial service in Boston over social media, but I also discussed forthcoming marathons, laundry, cute puppies, coffee and (privately, for the benefit of everyone else) chafing. I guess you could say I’d returned to whatever it is we’re calling normal these days.

Now I’m ready to get back at it. Running, after all, is all about pushing yourself beyond an otherwise-acceptable level of pain, recovering accordingly and then, without second thought, doing it all over again, only a little bit faster, farther or harder that the previous effort. Runners heal quickly because they want to, they have to and, through months, years and decades of training, they’ve been conditioned to.

That hasn’t been entirely easy, either. Tuesday, I joined thousands in honoring Boston by running 4.09 miles, the distance chosen to represent the time on the official clock when the bombs went off. To add insult to injury, much of my run was on the Marathon course itself. Even in the suburbs, 15 miles from Boylston Street, I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up.

Wednesday, after watching CNN, The New York Post and others make my journalism professors weep, I ran an ol’ reliable route around my neighborhood, if for no other reason than it was a rare cloudless spring afternoon in New England and, let’s face it, such days should not be wasted.

Today is an off day. Tomorrow will be a fartlek. And so it goes.
  • Next weekend I’m doing a 10K -- the James Joyce Ramble, a quirky race that embodies peace and unity above all -- and set a ridiculously lofty goal of breaking 40 minutes.
  • Next month, or perhaps in early June, I’m doing a half marathon -- and, since I can’t remember my PR, I guess I’m just going to have to set a new one.
  • In October, I’m doing the Smuttynose Rockfest marathon on the New Hampshire seacoast. (Someone remind me to register.) Running a 3:05 to qualify for Boston in 2014 is no doubt a stretch, as it’s 8 minutes faster than my PR (set six years ago) and 46 minutes faster than my disastrous last marathon, but what the hell do I have to lose in trying?
Frankly, I can think of no other way to respond to the bombing than to lace up my shoes, get back on the road, set a bunch of goals, knock ‘em down and show the world that, for one runner at least, nothing will slow him down.

(Note: One thing I neglected to mention in my first post was that it would be impossible to avoid gratuitous references to 90s alternative music. The title of this blog post borrows from the Our Lady Peace track “Made to Heal.” Give it a listen and prepare for more lyric-dropping. You’ve been warned.)