Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I haven't had a good track workout in several weeks, but tonight, my body was working with me.

Frequently (I dare say usually) I walk off the track feeling moderately pathetic and somewhat dejected.  But I go back most every Tuesday because I'm chasing the days like today, when the longer I run, the faster I run, and the stronger I feel.  I finished well tonight.

I likely would have had a good workout no matter what (I was overdue), but tonight I had a couple of things working in my favor:  1) There was a new girl there who was trying to keep up with me for the last quarter and fuck that shit, and 2) a friend of mine gave me the flattering assertion that in the wake of what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon, my voice was one that should be heard here in Memphis.  On the surface, these are two antithetical statements, the first being one of competitive individualism and the second being one of community support.  But that's running for you.  It's both things.  It's a loner's haven and it's an exercise in group cooperation.  It's every man (and woman) racing him(her)self and yet it's also every person on the course sharing the same experience and looking out for everyone else.

I have a hard time sometimes reading/listening to people's operatic odes to the act of running itself, not only because they're such clich├ęs, but because, in a lot of ways, I don't feel that I belong to that club.  Running isn't who I am; it's something that I do.  It's not part of my self-definition; it's simply part of my life.  I don't call myself "a runner" any more than I call myself "an eater."  Or "a sleeper."  Or "a reader."  Running is just something that crops up in my routine on a regular basis.  Much like writing.  And showering.  And going to work.

And yet yesterday proved, to myself if no one else, that the mere fact that it's a part of my life means I'm a piece of something slightly separate.  Everyone abhors a tragedy.  Not everyone knows what it feels like to see the finish line of a marathon (and thus the true horror of having that euphoria desecrated).  Not everyone knows someone (much less multiple someones) who was running that race.

I'm going to take it on as a challenge to write something for our local running magazine to describe the feeling of familial concern that has enveloped us in Memphis in the past 36 hours or so.  Our community here was lucky.  None of us were hurt or killed, though many of us will be coming home with awful stories.  But we came together anyway.  We'll be coming together again on Thursday when Breakaway holds a fundraiser/2.62-mile run/Slider Inn party to honor the achievements of our local Boston finishers and memorialize the tragedy.

What we won't do is let any of this change anything.  We're all a bunch of idiots, you know, deep down.  No one in their right mind would do to their bodies what we do to ours, all for the sake of an elusive high that hits infrequently and erratically.  Or bragging rights that mean nothing to anyone but ourselves.

But there's something to be said for the sheer number of us that do it.  We feed off of each other.  We push ourselves to run brutal track workouts, like tonight.  We run for three, four, five, six hours at a time just to prove to ourselves we can do it.

I hope the girl I beat tonight comes back to the track.  I hope I do justice to our camaraderie when I write my article.  But most of all, I hope that yesterday doesn't discourage a single person from ever running a marathon.  People do terrible, terrible things for the stupidest of reasons.

But they also do wonderful things for the stupidest of reasons.  Running 26.2 miles is one of those things.  Hundreds of thousands of people have run Boston in the 117 years that marathon has been in existence.  One person turned it into a calamity this year.  To quote myself from above, fuck that shit.

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to each and every person affected by the bombings, and yet in the wake of not really knowing what to do about it, I'll be out there for more nights like tonight.  Just living my life.  Which includes running. 

This changes nothing.  And maybe that's my point.  This was a hideous, terrible thing.  But anyone looking to demoralize a group picked the wrong target in runners.  We don't know when to quit.  And when faced with a potential setback, the cold, hard truth is that it only makes us run harder...


  1. Thank you for this.

    - A fellow runner

  2. Going on is the only thing one can do...

    I am actually thinking about going to the hamburg marathon - I never did as I am not interested in watching others do sports ... but this weekend it is also about showing "we don't step back" ... even tho we don't know yet (or do we?) who did this cowardly act ... people from all over the world come to boston - so in a way, the world was at target

    just my 2 buckets of thoughts on that :D

    Annie Sasha

    1. That would be incredible if you went to the Hamburg Marathon!!! It'd be a great show of support, plus I really think you would enjoy it. (There's something mesmerizing about watching a bunch of people running by!)

      As you may have heard, there was a huge stir yesterday when news broke that an arrest had been made, but then it turned out that wasn't true. Nonetheless, they do seem to have a suspect in mind; I'm pretty confident at this point they're going to find the person who did it.

      Breakaway's run/fundraiser has been postponed because of bad weather forecasted for tonight - it'll be tomorrow night instead. I'm really looking forward to it. In times like these, I think the best thing we can do for each other is come together and show our solidarity. :)

    2. another catastrophe just hit my life today ... if I dare say so in the wake of everybody maybe caring more about the "big picture" ... but I will see what I can pull on sunday

      I'll post pictures on FB if I go ;)

      Annie Sasha

    3. I'm sorry...but I wish you the best of luck!!! I'll definitely check your Facebook page in a few days. :)

    4. didn't go... all my energy to do anything has vanished in the past weeks

      being egoistic today

      Annie Sasha

    5. Sorry it didn't work out. :( But you are totally allowed to take days for yourself, so I understand. :)