I leave for Boston on Saturday morning. I haven’t checked the weather. I haven’t looked at the race info. I haven’t written my obligatory facebook and blog posts about what it all means to me. I just am having a hard time getting excited. Partially, sure, it’s because I can’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) run the race. And, I was looking forward to actually getting to run the whole course this year and enjoy the atmosphere/excitement and hang out with every person on the planet who is doing it. I wanted to finish. Since I can’t do any of those things, I’ll basically just be a hanger-on, a fan, which is fun too — but not the same as actually being inside the locker room. Partially, though, I’m having a hard time whipping up a frenzy of emotion because everyone else is doing such a good job getting all whipped up on their own.
There are people who have very real connections to this race. There are people for whom it means a great deal or who genuinely struggled to deal with what happened last year. And, I’m not begrudging them their feelings. But, does it automatically mean a great deal to everyone or, if we’re honest, aren’t some people jumping on an emotional bandwagon that isn’t theirs to hijack?
I was reading some article about Jeff Bauman — probably in Runner’s World, though really there have been so many about him — and in it his fiance talked about how, with all the press tours and visits and interviews, he wasn’t keeping up with his physical therapy that he actually needed to get better from his injuries. She said that she definitely would not be running the marathon this year, maybe again some day, because they had gotten overextended and needed to focus on their own lives again. And, then, I read the story in our local paper about local runners going back to run Boston this year — of which I am sure there are lots of similar stories in lots of similar papers — and the article kept calling all of us who were there last year “survivors.” And, we’re not. I’m not. It wasn’t ours to survive. And, it’s not our right now to trot out the truly injured and make them our symbols of survival.
I have a hard time whenever a spectacle is made of what is, at a base level, very individual pain for the individual people who suffered. I hope those individuals are getting whatever they need — whether it is emotional support or money for medical bills or simply being left to rebuild. And, I know that if it was me whose life and loved ones had actually been affected by the bombs at the finish line, I wouldn’t want my suffering to stand for anything or mean anything larger to everyone. I would be a little pissed if people kept telling me we all run together, because we don’t. We run near each other and next to each other. We run shoulder-to-shoulder, but we run alone. We can only ever run on our own.