Hard to Know How to Feel

The day after the Boston Marathon bombings, it’s hard to make much sense of how I feel. I went for a run in MonkeyVille and ran angry on the uphills and sad on the downhills. I felt like everything would be okay afterward and then got a little stressed again on the ride home. Then I forgot about it for a while as I was working, and then felt guilty for forgetting. Just now, I felt a little more guilty for seeing “I” so many times when writing about something tragic that didn’t even involve me.

Still, of course, I (along with so many runners) feel like it does involve me. Yesterday, the running forums were full of righteous anger. “How can they do this to running!?” “Those assholes won’t take running from us!” Yes, this seems a tad unseemly in light of the horrific real injuries to real human beings…Even so, for those who honestly love running, I think the fact that the sick lunatics chose to target a spectacular celebration of running feels almost, well, personal.

Like I said, it’s hard to know how to feel.

For me, running is something of a longtime companion. It’s been an ongoing relationship for 35 years with the torrid ups and downs typical of any love affair. Just 8 weeks ago, I had a serious falling out with Running. How dare it abandon me and make me look like an ass after all my devotion? Dramatic and self-absorbed? Yes, but there it is. Naturally, after a little time passed, I got over myself, admitted that “it’s not you, it’s all my fault,” and moved forward with the relationship.

Running has been something I’ve turned to when dealing with everything from heartbreak to celebration to menopause. It’s a real friend. The connection is intimate and unique, yet those who feel the same way I do totally understand without having to explain or ask for explanations. That mutual understanding is the basis for some of my other favorite friendships.

On the other hand, I’ve known runners who claim to not really like running very much, yet they want to qualify for Boston so they can say they’ve done it and check it off a Bucket List or whatever. I’ve always felt oddly belligerent toward people like that while, at the same time, berating myself with a hearty, “Why should you care? Mind your own fucking business!” But it rubs me the wrong way much like it would if someone said, “Well, I don’t actually love Marge, but she’s loaded, so I’m going ahead with the wedding.”

Anyway, all that to say that it doesn’t seem strange to feel that what happened yesterday was, in part, an unprovoked attack on a close friend. Maybe it feels a little strange. Or selfish. Hard to say. Admittedly, my first inclination to the “How can they do this to running!!” comments was to roll my eyes. But I do understand it. Really.

At the core of our love of running is that same ephemeral euphoria and release you feel when you’re in love or when you were a kid dashing around outside at twilight or when it’s finally spring. In a real sense, it’s the antidote to sorrow, violence, terror.

So, I think it makes some sense to feel the way I do.


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