|Design by Derek Cernak|
I finished my first Boston marathon two weeks ago. A prestige, perhaps the most well-known marathon in the world. The marathon itself was great and the crowd support was unparalleled to anything I had experienced. I suffered the last couple miles and was reduced to a walk multiple times during the last two miles. While I wasn't happy about that, I could honestly say I had left everything on the course. The four-months journey, as mentioned in the last post, was great. Frankly, even more memorable than the race itself.
An hour after I crossed the finis line was when everything changed. By the time I walked through the shoot to get my medal, space blanket, food, and drop bag, I was almost at my hotel. I waited in the room for my friends, Emily and Anji to come back. And they did. Not too long after their return, we started hearing sirens and that was when Anji got a phone call. She picked up and I heard, "What!?" My heart sank. That didn't sound good and I was right.
Something this sinister and tragic is difficult to comprehend. Shortly after we, as well as the whole world, got the news. SMS, facebook posts, and messages came flooding in from our caring friends and family. Just as we thought we had accounted the safety for everyone we knew, we realized we were wrong. I had no words.
I read an article a couple days afterwards about why the marathon still matters and that our finishes still matter despite the tragedy. I understand the point of view, but I don't feel that way. People have lost their lives and their legs in the bombing. It's not because I didn't feel right to celebrate a marathon finish and a 5-minute PR, I just couldn't find the joy to be celebrating. To all my friends who genuinely congratulated me, all I could mustered was an indifferent "thank you." Was that sadness? Maybe. I felt hallowed.
|Run Your Heart for Boston (Photo by: Chris Page)|
The Charlotte running community was as shocked as I was. Rob asked me if we could host an unsanctioned race to raise funds for the Gross family. Of course we could. I did my usual thing in creating a Facebook event and support came in overwhelmingly. First was Vac and Dash who printed all our shirt, then came Davidson Timing. Then Charlotte Running Club, plus many more. If two men decided to use their free will to do something evil, the running community had shown me we could also response with our free will to do good. I'm thankful for that. Rob's idea eventually became a gathering of 300+ runners with over $17,000 raised. None of us could have done it alone, but together we did it.
Strangely, I felt a bit of closure after today, though I know this is only the beginning for the Gross family. I also know our effort and support won't stop after today. I'm a firm believer that God could turn a curse into a blessing, and I pray that He would.