First I worried about folks I knew that were out there. Next, I worried about the people affected. Lastly and in the most common way in which we experience empathy, I imagined what it would be like to be there.
The first explosion happened 4:09:52 after the start of the race - had I for some reason been running Boston I thought, I'd be an hour or more from the finish line - but my mom -who is my biggest support in the sport - would just be arriving at the finish line, as she has in each of my last 9 big races.
I couldn't correctly begin to imagine the chaos and fear of being there. Unlike in many other instances of national tragedies, where I can feel complex feelings, in this case, I only felt sad for the entire occurrence - and perhaps it's because I could imagine being there so much more than other situations.
During the day I wondered if the perpetrator was maybe a runner or close to the running community? Who else but a runner - even a bad runner like myself - would know what Boston means to the sport?! Heck, when a runner speaks the word 'Boston' s/he only refers to The Marathon most of the time. Boston to any serious runner (in commitment not necessarily in achievement) at some point has set their sight on qualifying for Boston.
This morning I went for my first run in a couple of weeks.
(My last run was a sunrise run in Maui)
While I was on my run today I thought about the people there. Starting with runners - although we're not all of a same mold, marathoners have characteristics we share and these include:
Passion: Something drives us. Whatever it is, we have an endless supply of it.
Determination: Defeat is unacceptable to us
Realism and Optimism: We know how to gauge danger in a way, but hope to push the limits to the very edge.
We know what it's like to be alone. In order to race a marathon you needed to have trained for miles and miles alone. This means, that marathoners, I believe are thinkers because with or without music at some point you're alone with your thoughts and they carry you for hours.
Each one of us, then has these fascinating traits - mind you, I have learned that your biggest strengths, when magnified is your biggest weakness so at often we're seen as obstinate, dangerous and relentless - but hey! Additionally many of us have either willingly garnered support of friends and family, or reluctantly, but they - them - those around us that come to watch, are lit and somehow energized by any of those components. All of these thoughts compounded means that the area was and was looked upon as full of excitement, hope enthusiasm, passion, determination, optimism, and profoundness and suddenly it was blown away.
I really enjoyed this blog post that talked about the spectators. It's conclusion was right on the money: "One of the many puzzling aspects of yesterday's attacks was the question of what, exactly, the perpetrators thought they'd accomplish by targeting what basically amounts to a celebration of human tenacity. If anything, the tragedy in Boston will further solidify the bond between runner and spectator. And when the Chicago marathon happens this October, I'll show up to run harder, and they'll show up to cheer louder. If anyone thought this attack would discourage the runners or the watchers, they've clearly never been to a marathon."
To best encapsulate my reflections on this event, the articles, news and posts that I have seen, this nails it: "If you're trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target."