Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Finish Line

Marathon day.

The buzz in the air is palpable. It saturates the starting line with a dizzying cocktail of excitement and nerves. Runners loiter around. They stretch. They eat. They talk to each other. They laugh. They either try not to think about the distance stretching before them or they focus hard on the miles ahead. The starting gun goes off. The crowd cheers.

The race begins.

They run the course, feet pounding the pavement in a metronomic rhythm soothing in its familiarity. They run through neighborhoods and city streets alongside thousands of strangers who are not strangers but family - a running family. They feel a strength born from months of training and a fierce determination earned for battling cold, heat, rain, snow, doubt and injuries on their journey to the start.

At some point along the miles their energy might begin to flag and they may wonder if they have enough to reach the end. They focus on the spectators lining the course; the people who stand for hours to cheer on family and strangers alike. They grab a cup of water from a smiling race volunteer. They offer some encouragement to another runner in need. And they feel their second wind kick in.

This is their race. This is their time. They are runners. So they run.

And then they see it. The finish line, rising in the distance. Two meters away or two miles, it doesn't matter. Because it's there. They stand up a little straighter. They run a little faster.

They've got this.

Pain is forgotten, as they start to fly. The roar of the crowd helps carry them down the final stretch. They cross the finish line. Head up. Eyes clear. Legs strong.

When they stop moving, the fatigue comes crashing in, but with the medal heavy around their necks the exhaustion feels good. It feels right. It feels earned.

The finish line belongs to them.

Last May that finish line was mine, and in two weeks it will be again. But for the runners in yesterday's Boston Marathon who had yet to reach the finish line when the running world forever changed, and even for the ones who already had, it wasn't theirs. It belonged to horror. To violence. To suffering.

When I cross the finish line in Pittsburgh in two weeks time it will be for me, but mostly, it will be for them.

And when my legs stop moving, and the fatigue comes crashing in, and the medal is heavy around my neck, my tears will mix with theirs.



20 comments:

  1. I was hoping you would write about running. Thank you for doing that. I sort of can't touch it right now. I feel to far away and too close at once. Blech. I was going to sign us up for a mother's day 5K but now I am scared. How absolutely shitty is this whole thing? Those hurt people...after making it all the way to the BOston Marathon, a race I could never EVER qualify for. Ok, now I am just going nuts on your blog, but i love this post and want you to stay safe.

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  2. I love the way you wrote this.
    It's very from the heart, you did a great job explaining how us runners feel (Especially after this horrible event)

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  3. Very powerful story- from the start to the bittersweet finish.

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  4. exactly what another clean slate said. :(

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  5. I love that you wrote about this too. Because you're a runner and because your writing is always so full of heart. I don't have the words to write about it. I don't know where to start. You did an excellent job Sam.

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  6. After reading your post about the Sandy Hook tragedy, I knew that if you chose to write about this latest event it would be beautifully told.

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  7. Thank you for writing this, for all of us who can't, and all of those who never will. A wonderful tribute.

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  8. I appreciate reading about this subject from the perspective of a runner, which I am not. I'll be rooting for you in Pittsburgh.

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  9. Great perspective. Best of luck in Pittsburgh!

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  10. I always love your running posts. You capture the feelings and the energy around running so well. Thank you for writing this and for having the strength and courage to run in Pittsburgh. I'll be rooting for you and sending you a hug!

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  11. Thanks for doing such a great job writing about marathons for non-runners like me. I love this tribute to what happened this week.

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  12. I enjoyed this - and have been enjoying posts by other runners this week. Such a sense of solidarity among all those who have a passion for it.

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  13. Well told; it was a tragic week.

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  14. Wonderful description of the experience of running a marathon, which I'll have to hold on to bc lord know I'm not going to be attempting one in this lifetime. It is very sad to think that all these racing gonig forward will be tinged with sad memories from Boston.

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  15. Loved this. I hope you have a great race. Can't wait to hear about it!!

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  16. Oh my... the ending got me. *sniffles* You're going to be amazing in Pittsburgh. Thank you for expressing so eloquently what we all feel as runners.

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  17. Lovely post. I can't stop thinking about Boston. So sad. And I'm with Peach: you'll be amazing in Pittsburgh. I'll be thinking of you.

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  18. Amazing. Great tribute to Boston. It's so horrible, I still can't believe it. You'll rock Pittsburg!

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  19. I am so behind on everything YW but I always want to read what you write. Please write about Pittsburg (but I have a feeling you will since it's your most favorite place in the world). Enjoy the experience while carrying Boston in your heart. Best of luck!!!!!

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