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Out There: Making Sense Of Boston

Runners are strong, and they will prevail.

Runners are strong, and they will prevail.

On Monday, someone attacked our family.

Like you, my first reaction to the news was an audible gasp, followed by frenetic use of my phone and computer to assure my friends, family, and colleagues in Boston were OK.

Like you, I have been glued to the television, watching a constant loop of the carnage and listening to the talking heads dissect what happened. It has not yet made sense. I don’t believe it ever will.

Like you, my heart sank when I learned the majority of those hurt and killed were not racers, but spectators waiting to cheer their spouses, parents, and friends to the finish. What a somber reminder of how this so-called “individual” sport is not so individual after all.

Like you, I am anxious. Since 9/11, we’ve been acutely aware that any crowded, public place is a risk. Still, races felt safe. After all, nothing is more innocent and free than running. With one wretched action, we’ve lost that.

Like you, I am confused. Was the Boston marathon targeted because of its participants, or just for the sheer mass of humanity? Was the timing of the explosion, set off at the most common marathon finishing time, intentional? What the hell is going on?

Like you, I am fearful. Are our events even safe anymore? How can we possibly secure 26.2 miles of every course to make it safe for athletes, spectators, volunteers, and public service officials so generously supporting our events?

Like you, I am angry. This is our family. How dare someone hurt our family? How dare they do it on our turf? How dare they try to tarnish an event that symbolizes everything good about our sport?

Like you, I have many questions. Most of them, however, can be asked with one word: Why?

Like you, I am in awe. Many of us, mid-run, have struggled to find another reserve of energy when we believe we’re tapped dry. To finish a marathon and keep running to the nearest blood donation center epitomizes the deep, indomitable strength of the runner’s spirit. Any excuse I’ve ever uttered is invalid.

RELATED: Photos Of Boston After The Attacks

Like you, I am compelled to run. I put on my running shoes this morning and stepped into the sun. I had no plan. I had no watch. I just wanted to be out there, running, because … well, just because.

Like you, I yearn for connections with other runners in this difficult time. I make eye contact when our paths cross mid-run. I smile. I reach out my hand for a high five. I am comforted by what we can convey with just one look. We are strangers and family all at once.

Like you, I am a runner. The very nature of our sport requires us to persevere when things get tough. If the purpose of this attack was to defeat the human spirit, runners were the wrong group to target. We will heal, and we will be stronger.

Like you, I believe we will be OK.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke