Three years ago, the Boston Marathon ended in a horrific tragedy. We all watched as the bombs went off, and we heard the stories of heartbreaking loss alongside heartwarming heroism. One of my dear friends gave me a yellow Boston marathon participant running jacket from 2013, and it has become one of my prized possessions.
Today, the Boston Marathon is surging on, stronger than ever. Boston strong!
Here’s what I wrote in the aftermath of that race three years ago. In it together, my friends.
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I have finished ten marathons. I’ve run them in sweltering humidity and in the freezing rain. In every single one of them, usually around mile 23, I have wanted to quit.
But every one of them was also magical.
There is something about cow bells clanging on marathon mornings that can make me weep. Tubas belch out fat bass tones and kids line the streets, eager for high fives. I’ve never failed to cry while running a marathon. They showcase an innocent side of humanity, tender and beautiful. There is an unspoken camaraderie that exists at a marathon, for runners and for spectators alike. In the cheering and running, rain or shine, we come together.
When I heard about what happened on Monday in Boston, I was sick. Acts of terror happen all over the world, and every one of them is tragic. But they are usually so far away that I don’t relate, sadly. This was one different. I know exactly what it’s like at the finish of a marathon; families gather to celebrate these heroes who have made it 26.2 miles. Bands play, flags wave and people line the finish area, screaming out their approval and joy. And Boston is the elite marathon. Just to qualify for this race is one of the great athletic feats of a lifetime.
I’m not sure yet what to think, or how to feel. I am sickened and angry. For the injuries and loss of life, and also for the loss of innocence. Will families come to marathons anymore? Does this change everything? I’m reticent to say much, other than what I am noticing before the smoke even clears.
I’m noticing heroic and simple acts of kindness. Runners who had finished the race kept running to the hospital to give blood. Google quickly set up a search engine to find love ones. One organization tweeted an offer to pay for airline tickets for any loved one who needed to get to Boston.
Beautiful, innocent kindness in the wake of evil.
It is breathtaking.
Here is the invitation for me and for you, today: in the face of unimaginable hatred and fear, let’s practice innocent kindness and offer to help in small ways.
Let someone merge.
Ask someone to tell you their story.
Offer to buy a stranger’s coffee this morning.
Walk over to someone’s cube and tell them you appreciate them.
Tweet your enthusiastic support for someone so all of twitter can see.
Drop your plans for revenge.
Pray for the person who doesn’t like you.
Stop using your smartphone when you’re walking, and make eye contact instead.
I bought this cowbell to remind myself to encourage others and remain innocent.
These are such small things. What difference do they make? Let’s try it and see.
I am going to keep running. And keep cheering. And keep giving little kids high fives, especially during my next marathon. I will not hide or quit or allow this fear and hatred to win.