What It Means to Be a Runner

Plenty of people who run, marathoners even, will tell you they’re not really runners.

There’s no shortage of posts from running bloggers claiming they don’t deserve the title, despite logging 30 or 50 or more miles every week. (Here’s mine, from over three years ago.)

For me, it took six marathons and a Boston qualification before I began to think of myself as a runner. But now that I’m comfortable with the name, I understand that being a runner has absolutely nothing to do with achievement.

Rather, it’s a mindset, a sense of connection with other runners … something that you just feel.

You feel it when you pass the same runner, day in and day out on your little neighborhood loop, and exchange that almost imperceptible nod that says, I understand.

You feel it when you’re in the car and you drive by a runner laboring to get her day’s miles in, and you wish that your little tap on the horn and thumbs-up could somehow express to her, I know exactly what you’re feeling, I’ve been there; come on, you can get through it.

And you felt it yesterday — Patriots’ Day, Marathon Monday, our sport’s proudest day — when you heard that something had gone horribly wrong at the Boston Marathon.

I think you become a runner when you recognize, in your own running, the essential kernel that motivates you and every other runner to get out there and log in the miles at the expense of so much else. Some runners do it for the medals and the t-shirts. Some run just to stay in shape. And others do it because, as they say, running is cheaper than therapy. But I think that at the most basic level, every one of us who runs does so because, deep down, we crave that little daily battle — against busyness, distraction, adversity, self-doubt — that every time we lace up our shoes, push ourselves out the door, and run, we win.

And when you reach the point when you look at another runner and sense that he understands the ins and outs of the very same struggle you do — and that, whatever his method, he manages to win it, over and over, just like you — you feel the connection.

To me, that’s what it means to be a runner.

When I got the text message yesterday saying there had been explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line, it was just about time for my scheduled five-miler. But as I watched the news with my wife (also a runner) and it steadily became apparent that this tragedy was no accident, I lost any motivation I had to run.

Something about running felt selfish … or maybe I just understood that, no matter how well I ran, there would be no win today.

For most of the afternoon, I just wanted to forget. To forget that no big city marathon, especially not our beloved Boston Marathon, would ever be the same. To forget that the very phrase “Boston Marathon,” with all the majesty and history and charm that are inextricably wrapped up within it, would be for many years supplanted by “Boston Marathon bombing,” words that would recall the images of the bloody sidewalk and the videos of flashing light, smoke, and panic.

And for a few minutes, I wanted to forget that I was a runner at all. As if distancing myself from it all would help to numb the pain.

But as the evening wore on and tragic details continued to trickle in, I felt something I’ve never felt before in my years as a runner: I sensed that I had to run … not for myself, but for someone — or something — else.

To say that I ran to honor the victims would feel a bit phony — when I headed out to run, there wasn’t any information about who they were or how old they were. All we could really guess was that each of yesterday’s victims was either a runner, or someone who loved a runner. And while it didn’t feel like it was my place to say that I was running for people I didn’t know, as I ran during the last hour of daylight last night, I got the distinct sense that I was running for something I did know — deeply, and personally.

I was running, really, for running.

I longed to see just one other runner, someone with whom to share that familiar, subtle nod that would say I understand, but mean so much more this time.

In the whole hour, I didn’t see a single other runner. But I knew they were out there, and that any who were would be thinking and feeling the same things I was.

And that, of course, is again what it means to be a runner.

I get the sense that, with time, we’ll come to view yesterday’s bombing as an attack on our country. But in the moment, it felt like it was an attack on the much smaller community surrounding our sport. After I got home and my wife and I hugged our son extra tightly before putting him down to bed, I signed onto Twitter, to connect with the community of runners I am lucky to have there.

I was unprepared for what awaited. There were hundreds of uplifting messages — quotes like Katherine Switzer’s, “If you are losing faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.” Posts from runners who said that earlier in the day they had questioned their goal to one day run a marathon, but now felt more strongly than ever that they had to make it happen. News that everyone would be wearing a running shirt today, Boston gear if they had it, in a show of unity. And of course, the outpouring of support for the victims and their loved ones, the city of Boston, and the runners, many of whom were still in their running clothes and without a place to stay, their flights cancelled and their bags lost in the commotion. Without a place to stay, that is, until others stepped up and offered to help.

And when I went to bed, after a day that lasted far too long, I felt something I didn’t expect to feel.

Comfort. I was proud — and above all, grateful — to call myself a runner.

To the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the people who love them, we at No Meat Athlete extend our sincere condolences. The running community is our family, and a tragedy like this one makes our hearts hurt.

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How I Took 104 Minutes Off My Marathon Time to Qualify for Boston



blueprint-cover-791x1024Less than 10 percent of marathoners will ever qualify for Boston. Ten percent is a pretty small number, but you know what’s much smaller? The percentage of marathoners who take over 100 minutes off their time to get there. But that’s exactly what I did: after taking almost 5 hours to finish my first marathon, I ran a 3:09:59 and got into Boston. In this free, 9-page PDF report, I explain the biggest mental keys I used to take so much time off my marathon and get to Boston — and more importantly, how you can apply them to help you run your own BQ. Click here to get instant access to the Blueprint email series and start planning YOUR BQ today.

Comments

  1. chatelaine says:

    last night on my 45 minute run i made eye contact and waved at every person i passed. bikers don’t usually nod back and they didn’t last night. walkers may or may not nod back and only half of them did last night. but every single runner i passed last night, nodded and smiled. i may not be fast, i may not log plenty of miles, but i know i can count on the understanding of other runners on my same path.

  2. My local running community is doing something great to support Boston…please participate!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Run-For-Boston-417/613135315380603

    • Elizabeth Eaton says:

      As a finisher yesterday, I was in the finish area and saw the explosions as I was getting my bag. I am sad, upset, and horrified. But I am proud of my hometown race and will run in my 2013 jacket tomorrow. Thank you Samantha – and Matt. This means more than I can articulate.

      • Samantha says:

        So many times as a runner I feel like I am in a sport all my own, but it’s times like these that I see what a strong group of people we are and I am honored to consider myself a runner.

    • Tom Giammalvo says:

      Just read Matt’s story, commented, and now just read your comment. I’m a nurse on call today and after reading Matt and yours I’m heading out to Run for Boston. Where should I send my pic?

  3. Brenna McEowen says:

    Beautifully written as always. Exactly what I’ve been feeling so thank you for putting it into words. Proud to be a runner today and as long as my feet still touch this Earth!

  4. Thanks for this. I was a few blocks away from the finish with my fiance, cheering on the runners with less than a mile to go when we heard the explosions. To be honest, I’m having trouble dealing with this.. It’s just all so heartbreaking.

    I too, and proud and grateful to be a runner.

    • Samantha says:

      Relish in the community of people that are turning this tragic event into something hopeful and positive. Face the emotions head on and push through to the other side…just like in a tough run.

    • You were there, and it was scary, and it is totally heartbreaking. Your feelings are totally valid Angie, and I’d say take advantage of any of the support systems that are available to you. The community cares.

  5. Very well written! Thank you SO much!
    All runners and their love one feel the same way. We are runner! We are family!

  6. I felt the same as you Matt.

    Running has brought me into a competitive community where your only competitor is yourself and everyone is supporting you even as they participate alongside you.

    Years ago, I came to understand the “nod” you mention and what that means as a community.

    If there is anything that we can do its that we can continue to help nurture and grow the running communities.

    I shared my reaction, thoughts, and urge to other in a quick podcast that you and readers might relate to. It’s here: http://becomeabeast.com/bab-021-personal-reaction-boston-marathon-terror-attack

    Well wishes to all of those who are suffering in Boston

    David Damron
    BecomeaBeast.com

  7. Beautiful. Thank you for saying what many of us are thinking.

  8. Well put. Thank you.

  9. I’m kind of still new about running, but still I felt that connection… Thanks for that amazing piece of writing.

  10. I so connect with what you’re saying. Well said.

  11. Charlotte Gaskins says:

    I cried, then I ran, then I contacted everyone I knew with one message: Go run. Go walk. Put on your shoes and hit the road. The streets belong to the American people and we have a right to use them. Run because you can. Just run. Go.

  12. I feel this so much, thank you. There is this connection within the community of runners, even if it’s just a brief outdoor nod or smile or hello.
    You’re right, the events wont be the same. That need to connect just got a whole lot stronger.

  13. Very well put. I totally agree with your sentiments. I too went for a run yesterday evening after watching the news coverage all day. I wanted to connect with other runners and as you said, everyone out there was nodding and acknowledging each other.

  14. Wonderful piece. Today was meant to be a rest day for me, but given yesterday’s tragic event, I went to bed knowing I would be lacing up this morning. I don’t know who did this or why, and I’m confident we will know soon enough. In the meantime, however, I encourage all of us to get out there and run. As Matt touched on, there are a multitude of reasons why we all run, but I think, I know, that deep down we all run to be free. No one can take that freedom away from you. Continue to do what you love. Thoughts and prayers go out to those at Boston and their families.

  15. I didn’t put it into words quite as well as you did, http://therunetarian.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/thoughts-on-boston/ , so thank you for expressing how so many of us in the running community are feeling. I am proud to see runners and their friends & family alike coming together for those affected by the explosions.

  16. Matt, well written, as always. I am not a runner :) but I went for a 20 minute jog around the neighbourhood last night and my thoughts were similar to yours. I’m on Canada’s West Coast, far removed from Boston, but *I get it*. Somewhere in the anger and the sadness of what happened, it made me want to never, ever, ever give up.

  17. I did the very same last night!!! I have not been out running in almost 11 months and last night I HAD to run… for some reason I felt as though I was honoring or paying tribute to those who suffered yesterday…

  18. Yes.

  19. Lovely and amazingly honest. I started doing triathlons in 2004, nearly 10 years ago and for that time I hesitated to call myself a runner. I did 5k’s, 10K’s, 10 milers, 1/2 Marathons but never would embrace that word. I felt I wasn’t good enough, or fast enough or brave enough. I was frustrated, so slow, slogging 15-minute miles and crying inside from humiliation and embarrassment. I was locked in my own thunderdome of ridiculousness that made me ashamed to run in front of others, that pushed me to the back of the pack if only to be forgotten during races and training. Runner. It just wasn’t me. But today I really realized the meaning of that word. Because even though I was last, slow, and bigger than most I laced up my shoes and ran. I never turned around. I didn’t stop. I didn’t even whimper. I just ran. And today when I ran my fastest 5 K ever, broke my 10-year personal goal of a 5K under 35 min I didn’t even notice because it wasn’t about speed it was about freedom. Runners run when others don’t. We run in snow, sleet, frigid temps, hot baking sun. We do when others try. That’s what it means to be a runner and I know those in Boston who have suffered will do. I will be praying for them. And I hope out of this tragedy more people will want to run.

    • Bravo. Actually even more moved by this than by Matt’s own gracious words.

    • Samantha says:

      So amazing! Congrats on your PR! Beautifully written.

    • You sure sound like a runner to me! Congrats on your PB and keep on running.

    • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this! I am now where you were. On Sunday I was crying to a friend about the frustration, saying that I still can’t run a mile in under 15 minutes and I feel like I’ll always weigh 250 lbs. Monday morning I ran two miles in the snow before hearing the news later that day. After learning about what happened in Boston, I wanted more than ever to run a marathon, but still didn’t know if I could really do it. Now I know what I didn’t then…that it is possible. Thank you for helping me to belive in myself.

  20. Thank you Matt for putting my thoughts into words.

  21. So, so very well said! I had that same feeling – like I wasn’t running “in honor” of victims since I too, was running at a time when we didn’t know much yet – but rather than I was running for runners. I was running because runners are a team – even though we’re not a team sport. It just seemed like the thing to do.

    http://www.getbusyliving.org/2013/04/we-are-runners.html

  22. Perfectly said.

  23. Very touching. I have lived all of my life on various points along the Boston Marathon route. I grew up in Framingham, and have lived in Hopkinton (just a mile from the start), Brookline (at mile 23.5), and my also right in my beloved Boston. I have never run Boston, although I think about it every year and wonder if next year will be my year. Usually, my husband and I walk from Beacon Street, into Kenmore, and up to the finish line and enjoy all the versions of celebrations that take place along the route. For some reason, this year we decided to watch from Mile 2 in Ashland – a total departure from our norm. We saw our running friends early in the race, on the downhill, barely breaking a sweat, and relishing in the beginning of one of the greatest athletic events on earth. Such a joy to see.

    As runners, we have always cheered each other on – that knowing nod is a precious thing. As a Bostonian, we feel your nods coming from all over the world and truly appreciate all of the love and support being sent this way.

  24. You articulated very well what’s been running through my mind! Thank you. With a proverbial nod to Boston I ran last night. We are a community even if we are a coast apart. And for those runners that worked to hard to get to the Boston, I sprinted my last half mile for them :) Again, good words.

  25. I just put on my NMA shirt, and I’m lacing up my sneakers now. I need my afternoon run for so many reasons today. Thanks so much for this post.

  26. as if you read my mind!

    Just one day before I was standing at the finish line of another marathon at the other side of the world cheering at friends. Hearing about Boston left me in complete shock and tears. Even though Boston is so far from where I live you make me understand why this hurts so much! My thoughts go out to those in Boston! Best wishes from the Netherlands (somewhere hidden along Europe’s coastline).

  27. Thank you for putting into words what I felt yesterday

  28. Scott Brewer says:

    Well done, Matt. Well done.

  29. Well said, Matt. My training group has a run scheduled tonight and several of our runners and coaches were at the race. They emailed to let us know they were ok and one woman summed it up like this, “We will never understand what happened and I am just so sad. I am looking forward to seeing all of you tonight and going for a run with you. We are so fortunate that we can go for a run together.”

    Chris
    BigRunner.org

  30. Anne Marie says:

    My small town, Kalamazoo, MI has a strong running community. Tonight we’re running in solidarity to honor the victims of yesterday’s tragedy. I think this is a perfect example of everything you’ve described: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2013/04/kalamazoo-area_runners_to_dedi.html

    • Anne Marie says:

      We are also getting ready for our home town marathon in just a few weeks. Even though this tragedy didn’t necessarily hit “close to home” it is clear that, as runners, it did.

  31. Such an absolutely wonderful post. I loved every word and nodded all the way through. For years I refused to let myself be a runner, didn’t deserve the title. I thought it was an elitist group and I was so incredibly wrong. I love those knowing nods, smiles, waves. I found myself waving from my car at a runner just the other morning. Did she think I was nuts or realize that I got it.

  32. Thanks Matt. A few of my friends/training buddies ran the Boston Marathon yesterday and when the news hit a lot of my friends and family reached out to me to ask me if I was ok (they weren’t sure if I was running) and if all my friends were ok?
    I thought to myself – “runners that I know personally are all ok, but some members of my extended family are lost or badly hurt, there is no relief in knowing that my direct friends are ok”
    People who are runners (or have runners in their lives) know how much we are all an extended family. I was part of the self supported marathon that many ran in Central Park when the New York City marathon was cancelled in Nov. and while people can debate the selfishness/usefulness of that, I think it was the most important run of my life as that day we saw runners/supporters cheering perfect strangers on, and acknowledging in a certain way “I understand”

  33. Well said. I feel like you captured some much of what I’ve been thinking and feeling since yesterday. I’m proud to be a part of such a strong community of runners.

  34. Well said, Matt. For those of us playing & competing in what is mostly an individual sport, it is good to know that we still form a strong community. I hope that community can be of some comfort to everyone affected by the bombing.

  35. This is beautiful and truly hits the point what it means to be a runner. I’m so inspired. Thank you.

  36. Really well done, Matt. Everything you described here, I think, resonates with every runner all over the country- regardless of our pace, our preferred distance, or our running volume/frequency. This community is unstoppable, forged by a bond and passion pretty inexplicable to most, and the best thing we can all do right now is to run… for running’s sake.

  37. This is brilliant.

    I just started running about eight months ago, and I’m about to run my first marathon on May 5. Your assessment of the reluctance to adopt the title “runner,” as well as the overwhelming sense of connection and community is spot-on.

    Thank you.

  38. Just an outstanding, inspiring response to an unthinkable event – Thanks, Matt…

  39. I was in shock when I saw my friend Bill Iffrig go down. He is the reason I started running. I kept seeing him on the trails and he is so wonderful and encouraging, he is will to stop and talk and answer my questions. Im so glad that he and my other running buddies are all ok and my heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this. I know that there is not much I can do but I will keep running and I cant wait for my next race. Thanks Bill and Steve and Thank You Matt for this great site.

  40. Yes. I felt this so much more personally, because I was a runner, and someone was targeting my running family. I had to connect with other runners, because my non-running friends and family didn’t understand that “we” had been targeted; that I was one of them, even if I wasn’t there.

    Be sure to check out #runforboston and log your run.

  41. Ruon Luu says:

    The Boston marathon is truly our sport’s proudest day. I’m run almost every morning, and I love the feeling of connection between another runner and myself when we pass each other. I run for myself, for running itself, and also for those who can’t.

  42. …nod…

  43. Wonderfully written Matt. Yesterday should have been my rest day, but I needed to feel a since of purpose after hearing the news. So I laced up and joined other runners…and…we all ran…in silence.

  44. Jon Weisblatt says:

    Well written as always Matt. A couple of good friends of mine were in front of Marathon Sports when the first bomb went off. I am so thankful they are ok. I have friends that ran as well. I’ve run Boston myself in the past. Just so senseless, but that’s what bullies and cowards do. Every runner/jogger/walker and other athlete is an inspiration.

  45. Thank you for this. You summarized what I’m thinking. Having run a few marathons with a triumphant goal of Boston, its hard to put the entire scenario into perspective. It is really helpful to hear your thoughts, so thank you again for sharing. :)

  46. Gill Ewing says:

    Your post says all that needs to be said, both about being a runner and about Boston this weekend. No fake sentiment or excessively sweet pictures and comments – just how you felt – how we all feel as runners. Thank you.

  47. Yep….that’s exactly it. Never been more proud to be a runner.

  48. Tom Giammalvo says:

    Well done Matt! I finished just 18 min prior to the blast. The day went from pure joy to devastation and worries for others. I thank God for the safety of my family and I pray for the victims of this horrific attack. Your road map helped me finish my first marathon 3 years ago. Now, after my third, your story has brought me some closer to the tragedy. Heading out for a run right now because I’m a runner!

  49. Matt,
    Very well written thanks ! As I told a friend of mine who was in Vienna running the marathon . Running Marathons and other distances for time, place, awards and even money is fine and should be done if you have the talent or need. But running for fun, for exercise,therapy,with friends and with yourself is the most important. As a runner of 49 and doing it since 15, I have done plenty of races and have a box and drawer of awards. But nothing is as important as LIFE and how we live it and running is so important to so many of us for many more reasons than medals or PR’s.

  50. Renee Fraker says:

    I was at the 25.22 mark when my world suddenly changed on Monday, April 15th. I was exactly one mile away from completing not only the 177th Boston Marathon, but my very first marathon.

    The six months leading up to that moment suddenly became a blur when they volunteers and police started yelling “the race is over, you need to leave the city now.”

    Running in general can be an emotional feeling. Running for an amazing cause can be even more of an emotional feeling. But the emotion I felt that moment they stopped us will never be matched.

    My heart suddenly stopped. When I heard what had happened, a marathon suddenly became just that – just a marathon. Were my friends okay? Were my coworkers okay? Was the city of Boston, my home, okay?

    I didn’t know what to feel when I walked straight home from that 25.22 mark, because I felt everything. Sad. Exhausted (both mentally and physically). Angry. Thankful. Selfish. Tears just started to flood my eyes.

    I’ve never considered myself a “true runner.” And trust me, when you say you’re running the Boston Marathon, people just assume you are. I was running for a charity. To raise awareness and funds to help support an amazing cause.

    I was running the Boston Marathon because what better way to show you’re living than to run 26.2 miles for someone who can’t?

    A friend forwarded me this post yesterday, and it instantly brought me to tears.

    After these mixed emotions I have been feeling for well over 24 hours, this post has confirmed that I AM a runner.

    I make the sacrifices. I put the hours in. My friends and family who came to support me that day put the hours in – which I am forever grateful.

    Thank you for writing this and thank you for your dedication to the world of running.

    You will see me cross that finish line in 2014. And I will be running because I can. Because no one, and I mean no one, will take that away from me.

    • Matt’s word touched me, and so did YOURS (and other commenters) — I’m thankful that you and your loved ones are safe, and I love that so many Boston Marathoners were out there to raise money and awareness for charities.

      Renee, you ARE a runner.

      I’m much like you – I’m very hesitant to call myself a runner. And all the work I put in training for my little race (a half) was so lonely; sometimes that was a gift in itself, to be alone with my thoughts. But this horrific crime has shown me that I was never alone — there *is* a community of runners, and amazingly, I am part of it! So are you.

      We ARE runners – the streets belong to all of us – evil cannot take that away from us.

  51. Martha B says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I didnt know it on Monday but I also felt I HAD to run and you’ve put it into words. I felt I had to run because I could, because it was a way for me to grief for a sport that has given me so much. I had already signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon and the Miami Marathon next season and although I am a little cautious, as I’ve read somewhere in the net, runners are the wrong kind of group to think you can keep up down. Our sport is filled with pain and endurance, and we will keep running.

  52. “But I think that at the most basic level, every one of us who runs does so because, deep down, we crave that little daily battle — against busyness, distraction, adversity, self-doubt — that every time we lace up our shoes, push ourselves out the door, and run, we win.”

    YES!

    I’m still a newbie (running 7 months, only six races, stoked to finish first half M. in < 2 hrs last month), but I’ve felt like a runner almost since my first 1.5 mile therapy run/walk last September. And even though I couldn’t have explained why at the time, it was exactly the feeling you expressed in the quote above.

    I don’t know if it is because I’m still so new to the community, but it took me a little longer to get to where so many runners instantly went…to perseverance mode; to positivity mode. It took no time at all to realize that no senseless act of violence was going to keep runners down. We train every week to fight through pain. We’re conditioned to overcome adversity. There is no way to make sense of the bombing, and I have made no effort to. Instead, yesterday I did what I think a lot of runners did. I started training for Boston. I don’t know how long it will take me to get there. But I started yesterday.

  53. Jennifer says:

    Very well expressed & written! On Monday night, I went to the gym, because instead of running solo, it felt better to be around other people. But last night, I went for a run on a local bike path…to be honest, didn’t feel the connection as much as I thought I would, but I have experienced that running community camaraderie in the past- for instance, last summer when I was out for a training run at 7pm when it was still 90 degrees, passing other runners and sharing that glance/nod, knowing we were both dedicated. I’m running a 1/2 marathon in Providence, just 45 minutes south of Boston, in a month, and am so looking forward to the community coming together for that!

  54. Peggy Cawley says:

    I’m putting my Runner shirt on now. Thank you.

  55. Lexi Wong says:

    I felt the same need. I’m glad someone could express this. I was trapped at work and I felt the need to burst out of the building and “run for the victims”. I can’t say that anybody really had a sort of sync with me as I live in Hong Kong, but I think there’s a sort of spirit feeling right now.

  56. Thank you, Matt, for writing this post.

  57. Thank you, Matt. Great post. I read it this morning and am struck (again) by the many posts I’ve seen that express the idea of the running community and how so many of us doubt ourselves. It is amazing, and I’m so proud to be part of it. I wrote this post yesterday, in case anyone is interested. I’m doing the Illinois marathon in less than two weeks, and I have a deep connection to the city of Boston. Thanks again, Matt, for the great post, and for the great website!

    http://kristamyer.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/everything-is-personal-boston-2013/

  58. The best you can do is teach your children about being a loving person. Lead by example. Teach them that hate is a horrible thing. Running is freedom. An appreciation of life, the trees, the birds and God’s gift to us. I’ve turned off the television news and talk shows. Just sensationalism. Peace to all.

  59. Thanks for writing & sharing this.

    I’ve been trying to qualify for Boston for a couple of years. I thought I would be running this year but had a bad qualifying race last fall. When I heard the news, 1. I had a hard time believing this could happen and 2. I felt overwhelming sadness, for the victims, for those who weren’t allowed to finish, for all those runners stranded, and for humanity as it was just such a inhumane act.

    I went to bed feeling an odd mix of appreciation that me & my family weren’t there and a discontented feeling of “what to do?”. I woke up yesterday with a new determination. My training has been slacking off, I’ve been floundering for motivation, and have had a “who cares?” attitude over the last few months. No longer. I’m more determined than ever to run Boston next year. Not to validate my running (my former motivation) but to be part of reclaiming a glorious event. A celebration of hard work, the running community, and a city. I am going to do all I can to be there for this reclamation.

  60. Matt, I am one of those people that doesn’t really consider myself a runner although I have completed one full, 2 half marathons, and this past weekend a relay 70 mile run. The way the news of the bombings hit me made me think a little differently. I too had to process it and blogged about it too. Thanks for sharing!

  61. Great words Matt, as a fellow blogger I know how hard it is to pen these kinds of posts.

    The loss of life is a human tragedy. I think most of will agree that whether it is a 5k, 10k, half, full or ultra is the crowd that keep us going. My first half was in the countryside with little to no spectators. The second and third were in San Francisco where the crowds thronged the course. It was a huge difference and they helped to power me on during those low moments where mind and body are united in saying no more.

    To think someone came along to shout out support for runners and never came home or are still in hospital is heart breaking for me.

  62. Beautifully written, full of soul & reverance for runners and the sport. Thank you for baring your heart & your thoughts.

  63. I couldn’t agree with this more. Also, there is a great article from the Washington Post called “If you are losing faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/15/if-you-are-losing-faith-in-human-nature-go-out-and-watch-a-marathon/

  64. In my town, a local running club had a quasi organized, quasi impromptu run for Boston yesterday. We ran a mile at a local high school track in silence, for them. For me, it was a chance to run out some of my frustrations in company of other runners who were there for their own reasons – as it is at any running event, really. I wasn’t sure I was going to go at first. After all, what on earth does my running a mile mean to someone in Boston, or involved in the marathon? But I’ve run ultras, I KNOW how much work it takes to get there; I’ve run big races (MCM, among others) and know what it means to be out there with the crowds, with the spectators, with the expectant family at the finish. And as I ran, I got pissed off at whoever did this for being so goddamned selfish and taking all THAT away from total strangers who worked damned hard to get there. For all that hard work, the runners, the families, the organizers, the volunteers, the city… I ran hard. Because that’s what we do.

  65. Thank you Matt. I thought I was done with tears. I was wrong. Thanks.

  66. Moving Forward

    4-16-13

    How do 28,000+ runners move forward from such a horrific event? Running 26.2 miles to a single-minded, simplistic goal of putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward to the finish line. The ability levels are as diverse as the people who entered this prestigious race. Dreams of running Boston, lifelong dreams of many locals, out-of-staters, and representatives from other countries all moving forward until we couldn’t move forward any more because of a senseless act of violence that stopped us in our tracks.
    But, what’s amazing about runners is that however upset, traumatized, frightened, angry, or hurt we all are we will not give up, we will not stop but will keep moving forward! (written on napkins on the plane ride back to Denver).

    P.S. Matt, I would love to talk to you about why my quads starting tightening around mile 6-7 and how they turned into bricks by mile 10 and how I ran really, really, slowly until mile 25 when the race was stopped.

    /Users/teacher/Desktop/moving forward photo.jpg

  67. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    I am just beginning to see my self as a runner. Yet, what happened in Boston touched me at an emotional level I did not expect.
    I run with a small group and we are going out tonight for a silent run. A small gesture. But something we felt needed to be done.
    In addition, I am among those people who have been toying with the idea of pushing my self to a Marathon distance. Today there is no question. I will get there!

  68. It is amazing to read this post and the replies. What an incredible community. I was out running at the time of the explosions. I was on a mountain run, scrambling up rocks, passing cat dens reflecting on my fears of safely running in the mountains and a committment to face these fears. I was thinking of my friend who was at that time finishing the Boston 15 minutes before the explosion. I received my text as I was finishing my adventure. I grew up with an incredible running father who started the racing scene in Folson, CA. Tomorrow I leave to honor the year of his passing, with a run on Folsom Lake. I thought of him and his influence on my life, my husband who runs mountains after his shifts at the firehouse to destress from a night of calls, my brother who has run the Boston and the amazing young man who had recently inspired me as we conversed by a fire at the finish of his 100 miles though the biting winds of Antelope Island. My response to him was, “these are my people, so I need to step it up so I can run along side them.” This is a is a community I love, aspire to and am priviledged to be in the presence of. Sending love, healing and the courage to face the coming days for all involved.

  69. Thank you for this Matt! So well written! Im running my first full marathon in Cleveland this coming May, my family is concerned now, but we have to run on!!

  70. Thanks for this post, Matt. I am one of many who had been questioning my goal to one day in the near future run a full marathon and after the events on Monday, I too have become more determined than ever to do it! I know it won’t be of any meaningful help to those directly affected, but this tragedy has made me all the more proud to call myself a “runner” and I can’t wait to run a full marathon within the year in honor of Boston.

  71. Just wanted to say a few things i am embarking on my first marathon in pittsburgh in a few weeks. This was a personal endeavor. Running has allowed me kick smoking drugs alcohol depression and turned me into a better husband father of 2 and a better person. This was a personal goal, not now. On may 5th I will run for all the victims of this senseless attack and am going to raise whatever money I can before then for them. My heart goes out to the victims and all those affected. It’s so important that we not let this stop people from doing what they love to do whatever that may be. If the people who did this hoped to instill terror they have failed. As long as people continue to put aside there fears and run INTO the fire then those that hope to instill fear will never prevail. I just want to say to those in Boston that I am going to run in pittsburgh with you on my mind for every step of those 26 miles and 385 yards and will do so unafraid.

  72. Kate Radke says:

    My mom was volunteering at the finish line (which she’s done with my dad for the past ten or so years) and this year my dad was running Boston for the first time (for a melanoma foundation), and my brother and sister-in-law used to work for Marathon Sports (a running business located right at the finish line of the marathon. An article recently came out about how the staff there kicked into gear to help the wounded right away) so this all hit pretty close to home. Thanks for the really nice post. Love being a NMA. My parents’ story ended up on NH public radio in a cute 3-minute clip, if you’re interested in hearing about it: http://www.nhpr.org/post/runner-and-race-volunteer-tell-their-boston-marathon-story

  73. Thank you so much for these words, Matt. As someone born and raised in Boston, who also happens to be a runner, I cannot begin to explain how much they mean to me. Senseless violence anywhere is just horrific, but this one just hits so close to home — my city, my sport. It still feels surreal. I’m amazed by the outpouring of support from the running community and humbled by all of the kind words and actions that we’ve witnessed here in the city since Monday afternoon. Thank you.

  74. Matt, the “Am I a runner/jogger/blahblahblah” question has been debated on on various boards for what seems like forever. You answered it with this this post. Thank you for your words.

  75. John Warner says:

    Thank you for your wonderful post that says everything. I love you all!
    John(64 year old runner)

  76. Lori Cogan says:

    Hi Matt.
    You said. Thank you. I have been struggling with my running since November. I have an immune disease sarcoidosis.In November my legs (from Hips to ankles )started swelling no explanation , blood tests ultra sounds of my veins heart testing and no answers. I kept running it was slow it was so very difficult ( as my legs together gained 15 extra pounds on my body).I would go out and shuffle and cry.There is still no explainations I am trying different doctors the swelling as of now is gone (praise God!!) but from the months of the slow painful shuffle I am slow and it is still difficult and at one low point back in January I thought I may never do a marathon again; heck I may never do more than 3 miles in an hour! Then being from Massachusetts and have one unofficially run Boston I watched.This year I shut it off after the elites though. Then my oldest son texted me and said “bombing at finish line I’m watching right now!”I turned it right back on and started crying.Then made my resolution I will run another marathon and I will run Boston again! I love this country and this running community and we will be strong together !
    Be well Matt and run strong!

  77. This post has honestly put words to thoughts for me. And I haven’t wanted to run a race or a long route in a while. I’ve kind of stagnated since I ran my first marathon and hurt my knee. I feel a new breath of inspiration, drive, and hope. A reason to run- for the freedom it gives me, for those who cannot, for my sanity, for solidarity, for Boston.
    All my love.

  78. Colleen Kospiah says:

    Your blog was very touching. And yes, I do get it. 100%. Tonight I ran with ABQ Running Shop and over 200 ppl in Boston Marathon Relief Run. We did a 2.62 loop around the northeast hills of Albuquerque, and for every loop ran, they donated $5 to Boston relief efforts.
    About 2weeks ago I developed runners knee and haven’t run in well over a week. I have been very careful but knew tonight I had to run. Not for me. For them. I had shooting pain in my knee for every step I took, but all I could remind myself of was, I had my knees- able to give me pain. My limbs were in tact. And as painful as it was, I felt so proud. And not just of me, but everyone who took part! From the 4yr old girl I saw running with her parents, to the guy with the cane, walking after surgery,.. to the ppl with their dogs, their babies…neighbors…co-workers… But most of all, to the girls & guys I saw back at the shop with the distinctive yellow/blue jackets on- the ones embroidered with the 2013 Boston Marathon finisher letters on them. I stood there in awe for a moment- almost as if in a dream. I listened to their stories, the emotion and their courage.
    This….is what it means to be a runner.

  79. I’m in tears after reading your beautiful words. I too am proud to call myself a runner. My heart is broken for Boston, the victims and their families. I will be running in the Vancouver Sun Run this Sunday (10km) and the organizers are encouraging everyone to wear blue and yellow. I know I will be. I hope to witness a sea of blue and yellow. The Sun Run usually draws around 50,000 participants. I know it will feel much different this year…

  80. Thank you *so* much for this article. I finished the race about 50 minutes before the tragedy took place, and had just found my husband in the family meeting area. Your article brought tears to my eyes as I read it while waiting at the airport to fly back home. You captured the spirit perfectly.

    I thought this was going to be my last marathon – as Seinfeld would say, go out on a high note. But now I feel I HAVE to run Boston next year. It was a privilege to run this one, and it will mean even more to run 2014. Thank you again, and thanks to the amazing running community!

  81. Saturday 4-20 a 1/2 marathon in Miami = I will finish strong for Boston!

  82. Such a wonderfully-written and thoughtful post. THANK YOU.

  83. Bad Andy says:

    For any runner, you initially felt this attack on Boston hit extremely close to familiar territory; an attack on runners. I instantly felt that. The “it could have been me” feeling.

    This past Wednesday, Nike Run Club in San Francisco paused for a 26 second moment of silence before embarking on our weekly trek through SF. I as well as many others wore Boston themed or marathon/footrace Finisher apparel to display solidarity as Americans, as runners, and to pledge our love and support for Boston in this time of tragedy.

    Whether you are just starting to run, a 10 minute-miler, or an elite runner, I can’t agree with you more about your assessment that we, runners, are all connected on some existential plane; I run, You run, We run. We are Runners.

    Thank you for a wonderfully thoughtful original post.
    Aloha.

  84. Thanks Matt for your comments and your love for your family and fellow runners. I live in Portland, Maine which is not that far from Boston. I was too lazy and waited until the last minute to buy a train ticket to watch the Boston Marathon, but alas these were already sold out. Where the explosions occurred on Boylston Street is where I usually like to be. Now I want to be a runner in all the spiritual sense you allude to.

  85. Great overall thoughts on self understanding. We, runners are a different breed. We don’t need gyms, or social gatherings to go out. We just do it, every day, some of us twice a day. 30minutes to 13 hours. If we meet a fellow runner, we might chat for a second, or run along each other for 15minutes, before we get back into our own rhythm. We hit the track once in a while, but we already knew who’s gonna be there. We are looking forward to talk, discuss and ultra heavily pant during those 1min recovery sets and the final tribal stretching. We feel for each other, for the slower for the faster. We feel for Boston too. The golden day of running turned to a black ribboned tragedy that day. We still run, and think about you marathoners, and the few sadly lost. Keep on running. (I was having a very deeply shocked time as we were watching the bombings on BBC with my fiancee.)

    youtube.com/EvoExpress

  86. “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
    ~ Robert Kennedy

    You have gained wisdom and shared it. Those who would hide rather than run have missed it.

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