I don’t have any words for yesterday’s events in Boston. My heart is heavy and my prayers are with those affected by this & with our world as a whole.
I had intended to share this post today, and now it seems more appropriate than ever. As my friend Melissa touched on in her blog today, sometimes running is just running, and sometimes it serves a purpose, and for me this has often been to be grateful that I CAN run, and I work to remind myself of that when I struggle.
Saturday, in my 5k, I had the ultimate reminder to be grateful for my strong legs, healthy heart & my able body. The timing was good, because I’ve had some pity parties over my minor injuries this year, and perspective is a welcome friend.
To the point. Saturday morning we lined up at the starting line, all bundled up & fidgeting to stay warm together. I noticed a man in a wheel chair, but didn’t pay too much attention – I was too focused on warming up my frozen fingers & setting my music / gps app to go to really be aware. They announced the start & we all took off. I keep my first mile slow, very slow, so I allowed everyone to pass me at the start & just stuck with my pace. I don’t look behind, because I don’t want to know how few people there are left at the back of the pack with me.
Coming up to mile 1 I hear 3 guys talking, laughing & having a good time. I am feeling strong & not struggling, but I am nowhere near laughing! So curious, I still don’t turn around because running is all about looking, and moving forward for me (literally, and figuratively). Next thing I know the voices are getting louder; they are passing me. It’s the man in the wheel chair and his two running partners (possibly a son & a friend?). They pass me and for the first time I notice. This man, in the wheelchair, is propelling himself on his one good leg. He has no arms, his long sleeve shirt is tied in the back using the empty sleeves. His right leg is shorter & doesn’t reach the ground and his left leg is pulling him along while his friends run along side of him. He is clearly a survivor with good spirit, as they continue to laugh and enjoy the cold morning out. I am humbled.
I catch up to the woman in front of me & we both vocalize how amazing / inspiring what we are witnessing is. And I pick up my pace to keep up with this group of guys. When the man in the wheel chair tires, the younger man pushes him until he’s ready to go again. What love. I keep pace with them until the 2nd mile, when they stop for water & I keep going. I keep them in my heart the rest of the race, and they have been there since. I have seen strength of spirit, and I have been reminded that being able to run is not a chore, or torture but a blessing.
I didn’t see the guys again before I left, and I wish I had been able to tell them how much it meant to me to see them racing, but the truth is I couldn’t have articulated it because I was still processing. The sight brought tears to my eyes & lent a little of their strength to me.
This all before yesterday. Now we live in a world post-yesterday. I pray that those hurt by the events can gain the same strength as my co-racer from Saturday. I pray that they have good friends to help them cross the finish line, laugh along the way & push them when it gets too hard. In fact, I pray that for all of us.
*the 5k results came out today, I finished 38:36. Looking at the list for 3 guys that finished after me, I found them all with the same last name & googled. Story is this inspiring man was born without arms, and one severely short leg, one normal leg. His wife, also disabled is a musician & you can see them here & hear a little of their story. Amazing.