I had never been a runner. EVER. Never thought I could be. Never thought I would like it. That was my mindset 5 plus months and 30 pounds ago. Most of you who know me are aware that I am in the middle of a fitness and weightloss journey. Through all of the decisions I have made to exercise more, sleep better and eat healthier, the one I am convinced has helped me the most is running. You see, I always wanted to run. I envied people as I drove by them. Running is a lifestyle. Running is a community. I wanted to be a part of it, but did not know how and did not think I could.
My inspiration to run comes from my dad. Not to share his whole life story, but my dad has been through an even more amazing fitness and weight loss journey than I. He has run several marathons, including Boston twice. It was his urging 5 months ago over a text message conversation while I was at the gym that motivated me to run. He told me that, “You need to start somewhere, even if it is 20 seconds at a time.” Through his coaching and support, I began intervals. After 30 seconds of running, I felt like I wanted to quit. 30 seconds turned to 3 minutes, which has turned to 30 minutes. In June, I will run my first ever race: a 5k in Kennebunk, ME. What will make this momentous occasion more special to me is that I will be running alongside my wife and my dad.
As I said above, Running is a community. I never fully understood this until recently. I am not the only person my dad has motivated. Under his guidance and support with a little bit of knowledge/skill and a whole lot of motivation, he has coached hundreds of runners, two of whom (as far as I know) ran yesterday. Members of the #safit community on Twitter and Facebook have shared their stories, challenges, ideas, tips, motivation, and successes. This, to me, is what running is all about. Sure, running is a sport. However, it is a sport where the competition is with oneself and where everyone wants each other to beat the elements, beat their personal best, and finish the race.
This is why I was so distraught, so crushed, yesterday at the events that took place at the Marathon. Thousands of people from all over the world come to cheer on loved ones and strangers as they do the unthinkable. It is the ultimate motivator. In 2008, watching my dad finish with pride and tears in my eyes, I stood in the very spot the bomb went off yesterday. The year later, I volunteered at the finish line with classmates from my graduate cohort just a few weeks before graduating with a master’s degree; a tradition in our program. This place, this event has deep meaning for me and for others and it was attacked yesterday.
was still am angry over what happened yesterday, I am reminded (and the rest of the world is seeing) how incredible runners, Bostonians, Marathon volunteers, and emergency professionals are. We have all seen the images and videos of people running towards the aftermath to help. We have heard stories of runners, who after a grueling 26.2 mile race, kept running to provide assistance at local hospitals. They are heroes. This is what running is all about. It is about bettering yourself physically and mentally, while supporting and encouraging others along the way.
This morning, I took my usual route here in Saco, ME with a heavy heart and my 2009 volunteer jacket on. I could not help feel emotional as I ran by newspapers with the headline “Tragedy in Boston.” For as sad as I was, I was that much more motivated and had my best run yet. I was running for something bigger than myself. I, for the first time, really felt like a runner and a part of the community I had watched from the sidelines. I owe this to my dad and the thousands of people like him in the running community. My run was part of the #runforBoston challenge that my friend Becca Obergefell initiated. Though, I couldn’t fit this entire story on her Google Doc, I thought it was important for me to share why I began running, why I will continue to run, and why I #runforBoston.
Why do you run, jog, bike, or walk for Boston? Share your story.