There is nothing like the finish of a race. Whether it's a 5k or a marathon, the finish line is magical. Every time I run around that last turn to see the crowd of people cheering on runners, it helps kick me into a gear that I didn't know I had left. Even when I've been my most exhausted at the end of a race, the energy of the finish spurs me on.
As I watched the terrible footage from yesterday's Boston Marathon, you can see runners go from elated to horrified as they approach the finish. I honestly cannot imagine how the runners and spectators felt as they realized what was happening. Last year I was running in the Green Bay Marathon when it was called for the heat. We had to borrow a volunteer's phone and get my friend's sister to come pick us up. It was frustrating and confusing, and it is nothing compared to yesterday's events. I can't imagine the confusion of the runners who hadn't finished yet and the panic of the families and spectators. And those people who were killed and injured...it makes me feel sick to think of what they're going through.
Being a runner means you're part of a community. Whether you run with friends or alone, you run a lot of races, or you're an elite runner there is a camaraderie among runners that is palpable. For example it was chilly before the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, and another runner linked her arm with mine so we could keep warm. We chatted until the race started. I'll likely never see her again, but she's part of my community.
I'm heartbroken because of yesterday's events. What a horrible way to mar one of the greatest running events in the world. But there are thousands of runners who will run this weekend, and we will all be reflecting on Boston. This is the type of atrocity that tests the American spirit, and despite the horror we will come together and overcome. People who commit these acts of violence want us to be afraid. They want us to cower. But I and countless others will continue to lace up our running shoes and push toward the finish. You can try to scare us, but we will keep running.