Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Thoughts

In 2006, I ran my first marathon, and I got the bug. In 2011, I decided it was my year to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It's like the holy grail for many of us. If you aren't "in the know" - there is a certain cut-off time you have to achieve to qualify to run the Boston Marathon (graded by age and gender). As I improved my race time, I determined that I had to qualify in 2011. Why? Because of two factors: #1: they were changing the qualifying time, subtracting five minutes from each group, meaning the next year, qualifying times would be five minutes faster; and #2: because I was turning 40, one of those age group changes that meant I was gaining five minutes... so 2011 seemed to be my window, my once-in-a-lifetime moment.

I missed qualifying by four minutes, but the Boston Marathon, for me and for so many, is like the Holy Grail of running. So that is part of the importance of Boston.

Now, if you know me, you know I usually run alone. I trained for four marathons almost exclusively by myself. I relish the group runs (and once drove 100 miles one way for a group run at Highbanks, a park on the north side of Columbus), but because of where I live, I run almost all of my runs by myself. All of my 20 milers... on my own. There is a huge aspect of long-distance running that is solitary.

But running is a team sport. That team is my family; my wife, who walked probably ten miles with two little kids to support me at the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in 2007, my sons, Jonathan, who ran the Ken Keener Classic 5K with me a couple of years ago, and Andrew, who always wears my race bibs after the races.

That team is someone like Nathan H, my seminary buddy, who ran with me and my dog daily for a long time and who ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon with me in 2007. That team is Dave P, who I first met in person when he came and ran with me on my worst training run ever (I think I walked more than ran). Dave also ran me in when I did the Erie Marathon in 2011 when I had nothing left in the tank (that so-close-to-Boston-qualifying time). That team is all of my Run DMC buddies who I hadn't met yet who were the most awesome water stop on last year's Cap City Half Marathon course. But that team is best seen in that Run DMC team's performance at the Xenia Marathon recently. I wasn't even there, but reading their stories inspired me, how many of them showed up just to cheer on their teammates and friends, and the most awesome scene of all, a whole group running in a friend to her first marathon finish.

Runners are awesome. Runners are family. Which is why the bomb attack on the Boston Marathon hurts so much, why it seems so personal. Yes, I have personal friends who were there. Yes, I have personal friends who were there there, who were so close to the bombing, who had just been there at that spot, who are safe. But it's more than that, because runners are family. That's my family you just bombed. The 8 year old victim could have been my son, there to cheer for his Daddy, who worked his tail off to get there. This hurts because it is personal.

But because runners are family, you know we will band together. You know that the team will overcome. But for the moment, I will enjoy every step of my runs.


David Bess said...

Excellent article. Most people do not understand the significance to other runners of what happened in Boston.

Jamie said...

My dad called me yesterday to find out if all of my friends were safe, but he doesn't "get it". Yes, the people I know in real life are safe and physically unharmed, but everyone there, runners, spectators, volunteers, race officials...they're all my friends, they were not safe and that really hurts.

Brian Vinson said...

Thanks, David. You are right; someone who doesn't run might think we're competitors, and many of us are certainly very competitive, but that's not it at all. We're family.

Brian Vinson said...

You've got it, Jamie. Everyone there is part of the family, and not all are safe, and that does hurt.

runpeterrun said...

Awesome summation yes this is very personal everyone of those spectators would have cheered me to the finish or offered assistance even though we have never met. There is no other sport that I have been part of that has the bond like endurance running. God bless us all!

Laurie said...

You've put into words what I've been feeling. No one really understands how this makes us all feel as we prep for the next race. We all want to protect our loved ones and now their safety will be called into question. It shouldn't be.

K said...

Well said, Brian. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. K