I’m a runner, although I am not a RUNNER. You’ve read a million times about how I don’t even like running.

Late last year, I read a guide for training for a marathon with a meat-free diet. At that moment, I was more obsessed with losing this damn 30 pounds of surgery fat that seems to be stubbornly clinging to my thighs and my neck. After re-reading those three intro e-books a million times, I slowly got obsessed with running a BQ. Not necessarily with running Boston itself, just qualifying. If I wanted to run Boston, I’d just do a charity run; it’s easier. (Of course, if I qualify and get in, I’d run the damn race).

The idea mulled about it my head for a while and when the chance to join RunYourBQ came up, I jumped. I was at the start of my two months of crazy travel/work/outseason time. I didn’t plan on purposely running for the next two months, but I paid to join a group focused solely on running a BQ. Yup, I’m a little obsessive. I put the idea in a few other people’s head too (to join the group, not run Boston).

Then I went on a work trip and vacation and more vacation….with a lot of deadlines and projects in between. I ran on a treadmill in Hawaii because it was 98 degrees outside and the running path was too hilly for that heat (especially on vacation). I found a treadmill workout I enjoy (more than actually running in fact): intervals where I run faster than my top speed for 30-45 seconds and then walk for 30-45 seconds. It was challenging and fun and quick!

I arrived home this past weekend and have two days of work until I leave again. I hoped to get a run in, but knew I probably wouldn’t really have time. I have  a lot of work to pack into those two days…

Then yesterday I caught a twitter post that stopped me cold. Explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line. The Tweet was from a Twitter/Running Group “friend” who had just finished minutes before. Slowly other tweets started falling down the page.

I turned the news on (this is why I installed a directv box in my office on a 20 inch tv just last month) and stayed riveted to the flood of information on and offline for a while. I also tried to get some work done, but it was through tears and a racing heartbeat. I waited to hear from my “friends”, a few of which I’ve never met in person and some who I have, to checkin and let everyone know they were okay. Happily, each checked in and are safe and uninjured.

My heart didn’t stop racing for hours. I felt sick. I was horrified.

For those of you who actually know me, I am not affected by school shootings and news stories of incredible violence. Maybe because I don’t have children. Perhaps because I grew watching too many horror films and I know how to detach myself from news that does not directly affect me.  (I also have a knack of being on vacation when horrible news stories hit and I only catch glimpses in a hotel bar as I walk by. I also don’t cry during movies unless a dog dies and I have never been scared by a video  game.) I stay an observer, and I usually do not linger.

Yesterday was different.

I was shook up. Suddenly, I realized these were my people. My group. A subset of people I had accidentally joined because I thought it be fun to get drunk and run a 1/2 marathon in Vegas at night. I ended up joining Team Challenge in honor of my mom (and possibly me but that’s a post for a different day) and actually training. The blog from my first year of running was lost in an unfortunate update, but it was full of ups and downs. I’m sure three people read at least one post.

I guess I could just say that the Boston Marathon incident brought memories of 9/11 back. I was just across the river and watched it with my own eyes. I only just recently stopped having nightmares about it. I still haven’t watched a movie or documentary about that day. But it didn’t. What happened at the Boston Marathon did not remind me of 9/11. It was not the same. I didn’t feel like I was in danger or the entire US was being attacked. I didn’t think it was going to get worse. I compare it more to the Atlanta Olympics bombing. I was shook up not because  of the emotions and memories dug up, but because these were my people being attacked. That could have been me. It was some of my friends.

At times I hate runners. There are the runners who mock me for carrying a fuel belt during a 5k (I like to run every race in my marathon gear and I have a medical issue that requires some liquid and more than a pocket on a shirt). There are the runners who yell at people at Disneyland for stopping on the left to take a picture of Tinkerbell and then shove multiple people out of her way instead of  just going around. It’s Disneyland people, lighten up. (Mind you, I passed that horrible no-fun woman not a minute later.) There are the runners who as you  move to the side to slow down and do everything properly, including raising your hand and such, they still try to run around you even further on the outside and push you because apparently they have the right away down the side of the course. There was the runner who jumped over me and didn’t look back on a trail when I hit a rock wrong and went down, spraining my ankle. There are the runners who don’t consider me a real-enough barefoot runner–despite every mile I have ever run has been barefoot, in huaraches  or at the most Vivobarefoot shoes–because I don’t want to pay to join their club.  There are the runners who hate people for listening to music, wearing race t-shirts during the race, and taking a medal when they didn’t finish.

There is just so much elitism and judgment in running that avoided other runners for a long time. I know that comes out more online. I know that a lot of that attitude is a Seattle thing. I know I’m never going to be an elite runner, nor do I want to be, but I don’t need to be treated as second class. I’ll just keep running, taking dance breaks when needed, and wearing and listening to whatever I want when I run. I don’t care what other people do as long as it doesn’t hurt me.

There are times when I love runners. When I was running the 2012 W&D with the flu (bad idea), we met a man running Galloway 1/1s. Our timers beeped at the same time for walk. I was having flu-pain issues and stayed at his pace for a while to walk it off. We chatted for a while when he noticed my timer hadn’t beeped again, he asked my pace. When I said 4/1 he was in awe and gave me a hug. There was the runner in Vegas, during my first half, who ran with me for two miles because his brother had Crohn’s and he didn’t want me to run the whole race alone. There are my Team Challenge coaches who laugh at me when I need it and yank me across the finish line when I need that. There was the runner I hadn’t yet met who calmed me down before my first runDisney race after I read the sweeping email (I was feeling fat and slow). There was the amazing group of runners on my Tinkerbell Meetup run. There are the amazing and inspirational runners I’ve met through Twitter and Facebook–the ones who motivate.

The good, the bad, and even the ugly–I would stand by them when needed. I’d pick them up when they’ve fallen, offer water from my fuel belt when that 5k turns out to be insane, and smile every single time I pass them. I’m still training for BQ. I might someday run that race. What happened yesterday doesn’t change that in either direction.

I don’t when these people became my people. I don’t know how. I just know that yesterday my heart dropped, my stomach turned, and I cried for a whole bunch of people I didn’t know and the few that I did.


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