A Silent Mile

Yesterday was a tough day. It started off wonderfully. I was able to work while watching the Boston Marathon on my computer. The elite women ran a compelling race and the men didn’t disappoint either. Then at approximately 2:50PM, two bombs exploded near the finish line killing three people and injuring more than 180 others.

I’m not going to rehash the details of this gruesome event because we’ve all heard them. It’s time to start healing.

I saw a Facebook post today asking runners to gather at their local high school track to run a mile in silence to honor of the victims. I thought about going, but the 9PM start conflicts with my kids bedtime. Then my wife saw the same post and said I should go. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to go.

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It hit me when I put my running shoes on – many of yesterday’s victims may never be able to do what I was about to do – run. I was pretty somber from that point on. I left the house. It was a beautiful night – clear, cool, calm, and quiet. I walked to the end of the block (as is my ritual), started to run, and it hit me again – those victims were no different than me.

These tragic events cultivate fear and anger. I felt both and needed a release. It’s about a mile to the Woodbury High School Track from my house and I was going to run because it makes me feel better. To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect. Would there be five people there? Ten? 20? 50? I passed the sign for the Underwood Memorial Hospital Emergency Room and my thoughts went back to Boston. What a horrible scene that must have been.

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see about 30 people. I didn’t know many of them, but they are familiar faces that I see at local races. I saw some people running around the track. I thought it was a little strange, but I know that runners like to run. It makes them feel better.

John Carter, part of the RRCW (Road Runners Club of Woodbury), waited until exactly 9PM and spoke briefly to the crowd. He thanked everyone for coming on such short notice and mentioned that events like this were happening all over the area and they would all be running simultaneously. I looked around and noticed that the crowd had grown to well over 50 people. John reminded everyone that the run would be in silence and we would take a slow pace. He then introduced three people who were dressed in their BAA Boston Marathon jackets and wearing their medals for completing the 2013 Boston Marathon. They heard about the event on the train ride home and decided to attend. John had the 2013 Boston Marathoners take the lead and start us off.

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The whole idea seemed a little strange – running a mile in the dark to honor people 300 miles away. But as we ran it felt more and more comfortable. The silence was palpable. After the 1st lap the crowd stretched out and the pace began to increase. It felt good. While making the turn on lap 3, I noticed the flag at half mast.

The pace got a little faster. By the final lap we were breathing hard and sweating and at that point I realized what this meant to me. Runners are comfortable running. Yesterday was awful for everybody here and lacing up our shoes helps us deal with it. Some may not understand that, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

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When we finished everyone was still relatively quiet, although breathing heavily. I immediately noticed how much better I felt. Another gentleman thanked the group and said how happy he was that so many came out to run. We dispersed and I made my way to the parking lot.

It was time to run home.

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3 Comments

  1. Nicely written, Brian. It must have been a very emotional group, especially with some runners there having just returned from Boston.

    Reply
  2. TonyWalter

     /  April 17, 2013

    enjoyed the read. Now you guys we’ve all got to make a goal of getting to Boston sooner or later.

    Reply
  3. It was pretty emotional. The one laugh we had was when John Carter asked the Boston runners to lead us and they said they had to walk because they were sore.

    Reply

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