Running For Change

Wiping dust off from the bombs

I have a wonderful job at Berklee College of Music and every October, my office brings a group of students into the woods of New Hampshire to discuss and explore identity, privilege, oppression and social change. It is an incredible experience for both the students and the facilitators. We utilize a space called the Sargent Center, which is actually owned and operated by Boston University. It is located on a dirt road in the small town of Hancock. It is much like where I grew up, in Barnstead, New Hampshire.
A new colleague, friend and fellow running enthusiast came on the trip as a facilitator. She had mentioned that she was training for her first 5k. I told her that it would be great to run together around the grounds, as there is an extensive dirt road around the center of the facility that I believe stretches just over 1 mile. Fortunately, she liked the idea and we both brought our running gear.
It was very relaxing, being able to run in the peace and beauty of the woods. We ran early in the morning, so that we could still shower and get to breakfast before the program kicked off for the students. It did not hit me until much later in the day, but that was the first time I had ran outdoors since the marathon this year. From the middle of April to early October was around 6 whole months. Although I was not at the finish line, I think the bombings impacted me more than I have let myself to believe. That is an extremely long time to not have gone for an outdoor run, especially as a running enthusiast.
As I have written in recent posts, I had some real struggles with finding the energy to continue marathon training and running in late summer and early fall. Certainly grieving over the loss of my parents has been a dense experience, but I also believe I have been grieving over the traumatic events of the marathon this year as well. Not just those injured and lost, but grieving over the challenge of not once again crossing the line. I think it had taken a toll on my drive over the last 6 months than I have realized. My sister and wonderful friends were also by the finish line, and while we are extremely fortunate that they left moments before the bombs went off, it is still a difficult thing to think about.
Our last day at the center came and with it came a wicked rain storm. The temperature must have dropped into the 40s and the rain was heavy. This was not ideal running weather and I assumed my friend would not go for another run. As quickly as I found myself coming to that conclusion, I found myself feeling that drive and energy that has gotten me thorugh everything in life. I tore of my pajamas, threw on my running gear and walked outside.
The rain has come to mean something very special to me. It brings me close to my father, during some of his last days with my sister and I. Perhaps part of me felt like I was being called to run outside, as the rain is like a blanket of warmth, and sorrow. I stretched out under a tree, folded up my cane and walked out onto the dirt road circling the center of the grounds. I had no guide, can only see about 3 feet in front of me, checked to see if I could hear any vehicles and then took off. I waved back and forth a little bit on the open road, but held myself pretty well for a guy who really can not see.
Then I started sprinting. I was sprinting back and forth along a very long straight of the road that must be slightly beyond the length of half a lap around a track. I do not recall how many times I did this, but I do recall feeling like my heart was going to break through my chest. It was physical and emotional. It was amazing. It was when I came back.
I believe it is this energy and drive that I have, that can be thrown to the ground, but which never dies, is what was so touchingly refered to at the National High School Journalism Convention by the host of the sports writing competition I spoke at. There were around 95 students in the room that evening and I told my story for 20 minutes and then went into a Q and A with the students. At the end of this, the host, Carl, stole the last question from the students. He stated and asked me of my opinion on my life story representing the strength of Boston to overcome what has happened, to overcome the events that no one had perhaps ever predicted would happen to them, which includes my own traumatic loss of loved ones and unique loss of an ability. I was humbled by this statement, but said that there are many stories that represent the strength of Boston, and that I am fortunate to possibly be one of them. He announced to that room and later, the other judges of the student submissions, that I was the best sports writing story presentation he had ever experienced. I do not know Carl’s age, but I believe he has been doing this event for quite some time. It was an honor.
I am spending the rest of December to focus on maximizing my pace in intervals of no more than one hour. I working to bring my coverage back to 8 minute miles. We’ll see how far I get over the next 4 weeks. Once January hits, I walk into a 16 week training program. Before I know it, the marathon will be here. Will I come to stand or symbolize something as great as Carl mentioned? I have no idea. Will I try? Absolutely, just as I always have and inevitably, always will.
My realization of now mentally being in a better space about the marathon has been very interesting. As I had mentioned, I do not believe that I was aware of how much shock I have still been in because of the bombs, not to mentioned what has happened in general over the last year. I was very moved when Boston Magazine had asked for me to contribute my running shoes to the special cover they featured shortly after the bombing. As soon as the magazine came out, I received a large poster which features the cover on both sides of the paper. On one side is the photo of running shoes in the shape of a heart with text and headings placed on the cover, and on the other side is simply the photo with no text. I have kept this poster inside the container it came in and it has sat in my closet for the last 6 months or so. I think it is time to whipe the dust off it and place it on my bedroom wall.

About the author

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Current day month [email protected] *