Finding strength and inspiration at a marathon


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The day after I experienced the warmness and solidarity of the running community at the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park, somebody tried to take it away by setting off two bombs at the finish line in Boston. Three killed, around 180 injured. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families.

A day earlier, the finish line I crossed, like most races, looked similar to the one at the Boston Marathon: digital time displayed on a screen overhead, people clapping and cheering, holding handmade signs for loved ones. I stood on the sidelines cheering and clapping for the runners who finished after me. Chills go down my spine at the thought of an explosion going off there.

The best and worst of humanity

With a bad case of runner’s knee, after the race I limped through Strawberry Fields before leaving the park. A few straggling runners and I hovered around John Lennon’s memorial as a pair of musicians played an acoustic version of “Imagine.” It was the perfect way to end my first half marathon experience.

When I first heard about the explosions at Boston, I instantly thought about the lyrics to that song and my heart sank: “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” My faith-in-humanity high quieted to a soft buzz.

As it was my first half, I was thinking how I would frame my story. Would I tell about how the first mile felt like forever? That at mile seven my knees were telling me to stop? I decided that the sense of camaraderie was worth writing about: When I had no one to run with (I went alone), a veteran runner trotted up to me and we chatted for a good 15 minutes; she then wished me the best and sped off. When I felt like stopping, one volunteer directing race traffic looked at me, clapped and said “you got this!” and kept me going.

There were so many inspiring people at the race: a lung cancer survivor giving it her all up the Harlem hills, military women, a group of sisters that wouldn’t let the other fall behind. To mark the 10th annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon, we honored the “Women Run the World” initiative, a tribute to 10 fearless female leaders who have paved the way for women over the last decade. The honorees included “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., among others.

While a day full of spirit and vitality turned grim, the city of Boston pulled together and quickly displayed that good will always triumph. And so I am inspired again by reports of first responders, volunteers and fellow runners helping to clear people out of harm’s way.

While I run a local 10K this weekend, I will be sure to run faster and harder for the victims and their families, and out of respect for the running community.

Click here for ways to help with the Boston Marathon relief.