Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Twelve More Miles, One Year, Lots of Realizations

Since the last time I wrote, I ran 5 miles easy outside near home and 7 miles on a treadmill at a hotel in Cleveland, OH, starting at 3:35 this morning.  Thus the 12 more miles.  I enjoyed every minute of both runs.  This puts me at 612 miles after 15 weeks of the year.  On my virtual pilgrimage I remain on Indiana Route 46 and am now on the outskirts of Bloomington.

The reference to one year--one year since the Boston Marathon bombing.  When I started the day on the treadmill, I have a very early network news program on.  And they spent a lot of time covering the remembrance of the events in Boston.  I felt emotions come quickly.  They came even more rapidly once they mentioned the eight year old who died last year.  Then, I was asked to be on a local public radio program this afternoon.

On that program, the host asked me what I will be doing next Monday.  I hadn't even looked ahead to my calendar for next Monday yet.  It turns out I will have a lot of meetings.  That is actually a very good thing.  Because otherwise, I would probably be at my desk all day watching the internet on pins and needles.  Waiting for the many runners I know--some through Back on My Feet, some through Charm City Run, and some through other local connections I have made over the years--to see their times and to see that they are safe.  And to wait and see that nothing happens.  I realize now that we will never be able to take safety at an event like this completely for granted again.  Especially after someone left a backpack there today after the end of the remembrance activities.  Being in meetings most of the day will force me to focus on something else.  Not that I want to ignore the issue.  I want to face the issue.  The best way to deal with it is to face it.  And to face it squarely.  The fact that it happened.  And the fact that I must do something about it.   

So, what else did I learn about myself and life today?

First, I still like the idea of playing music but right now I get no joy from playing.  I committed to play for a Good Friday service and for an Easter Sunday mass.  I had hung up the towel last year.  I have re-engaged three times since.  I think this is it.  I am not saying I am any better than any of the other musicians.  I certainly am not.  I'm just not feeling it any more.  And that will help no one.  Life is too short to do volunteer activities that I don't enjoy.

Second, the events of last year are still closer than I thought they were.

Third, the group of running friends I have really does look out for and care about each other.  One friend I have run many miles with sent a message today indicating that she has to take some time off.  She has had a series of injuries and felt something different enough that she feels she has to pull back. It is unfortunate as she has waited since 2011 to run another marathon and is in for the Marine Corps this year.  I hope that she overcomes whatever has started to affect her.

Earlier in the day, I heard from a friend with whom I often run track workouts on Tuesdays.  She called me asking if I was okay.  I hadn't even realized that she might be thinking that I was not okay because of the anniversary of the bombings.  It is simply that we have been doing track workouts as a group (varying from 2-12) since the fall of 2011 when she and a student of mine from Ireland ran a 3200 meter time trial together with the two of them expertly pacing me.  In any case, this was one of the first weeks when I didn't send out any email--even one saying "I won't be out" in almost three years.  She noticed and wanted to make sure nothing was up.

Then, for one friend who is running Boston this year, I had sent a brief hand-written note.  When I dropped it in the mail (people still like getting real mail every once in a while), I didn't realize what day it would arrive on. I also hadn't thought about my friend's relationship with the events in Boston last year.  Her mother was there.  As was I.  And numerous other friends.  She felt relieved as she heard from each one a year ago.  But she posted late in the day today how raw some of those feelings were.  And how much she appreciated getting my note encouraging her to make the most of the opportunity to run Boston.  To run strong.  And to find in the experience the meaning she needs it to have for her.  

In closing, Anthony on his program today asked me why so much running.  I gave my answer that has nothing to do with community first--immediate feedback and lots of numbers.  But the community I am a part of is an amazing one.  One that is strong.  One that faces the issues we must overcome head on.  And one that I will continue to be a part of.

While I acknowledge that I want to run more races--and not just train endlessly--the many feelings of insecurity do haunt me.  And it is not even so much my own feelings of insecurity.  I can get over those.  Every major race I run for the rest of my life, I will have to ask the question--how will I get news to my family that I am done?  If anything happens, how will I let them know I am safe?  And is the risk worth it.  

I think I will answer yes.  But that is a question I never had to ask before.  It is a shame to have to ask it now.  But family as community is even stronger.  And the risk cannot be ignored.

I am sure I will run and write next Monday.  And I am sure on the day of this year's Boston Marathon I will have even more to say about the feelings that are still there.  This is one time when being 612 miles away in reality rather than just virtually might help to ease the hurt that is still there--the easing through distance as well as time.  Or perhaps not as this may transcend any distance as long as the pictures, the story about the eight year old, and my memories live on.  

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