There are a very few things that I am deep in the marrow of my bones. One of them is a Bostonian (I was born here, my parents live here, I met my husband here, my babies were born here, this is my home in the most essential sense of the word). Another of them is a runner.
I am a runner from Boston.
I have been running in Boston for 30 years (part of why the photograph of Grace’s first road race so moved me is because when I was her age I was running regularly in 10K road races; the echoes and flashbacks are powerful). I have run two halves but never a full marathon. I’m not sure if my iffy knee could take it, unfortunately. But if I ever do run a marathon, you know there’s no question which it would be.
On Tuesday morning, when I drove to school with Grace and Whit, we had had a conversation about fear. We didn’t listen to the radio, because I knew what we’d hear, so I turned on a CD. Immediately, Phillip Phillips’ Home flooded the car and tears filled my eyes. So I turned it off and we talked. Grace told me that she was scared. I said I understood that. But, I went on, to be scared and to cower is to let them – whoever they are – win. I caught her eye in the rearview mirror and saw that she understood. And, when I got home, I laced up my sneakers and went out for a run.
That day, and yesterday morning as I ran along the Charles River at dawn, I sensed that I was asserting something, claiming something, refusing to give something up. I have run for as long as I can remember. When I searched the archives of my blog for “running,” 10 pages of posts came up. In many of them, my memories of running are braided so tightly around my memories of Boston and Cambridge as to be indistinguishable.
Running is as natural to me as breathing. This week, my runs felt suddenly like an act laden with meaning as powerful as it is inchoate. They felt like a statement of defiance and of optimism. This is a running town, this is a proud town, this is a brave town. We won’t stop running.
I’ve never run a marathon before. Maybe next year is the year to do it.
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