I am a runner from Boston

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.


41 thoughts on “I am a runner from Boston”

  1. What happened to your city horrifies me. But I am in awe of the human spirit that has been displayed in reaction to it. I am in awe of anyone who can actually run 26.2 miles. And I know in my heart and soul that next year’s Boston Marathon will be on display for the world as a shining example of fortitude and resilience.
    I’m sorry this happened to your home city. I am grateful that you and your family are safe.

  2. I so appreciate and identify with your quiet courage here Lindsay. What a shining example you are for Grace — and for us. On my run last night, I stopped and listened to the peepers in full concert, and my heart just overflowed. And I thought about the idea of running TO, dedicating every run to be TOWARD something, rather than away from something. Love what you say here — to keep running!

  3. I had never thought about being from Boston as part of my identity until this week. I guess because I didn’t grow up there, but lived there after college from 1997 until last year, when my family and I moved to upstate New York. I’ve been a doctoral candidate at BU since 2008 and went back to Boston last week to defend my dissertation. As I walked along the river on a cold April day, for the first time in over a year, I truly felt like I was back home. Like you, I spent countless mornings running along the Charles. When this tragedy happened, I was shocked by my own sense of personal loss. This was MY home. My town. And I miss it and wish I could be there.

  4. This piece resonates for me because I feel in your words much of what I felt in December, after the shooting at Newtown. I’m an educator. For more than 20 years, schools have been home to me. With that event, I felt my home had been so horribly violated. And, yes, going to work the next day felt defiant and optimistic and very, very important. Run. We all need to keep running.

  5. You can do it. You are a runner. You are tough and you never give up. No matter what it takes I’m heading back next year and I’m going to finish, maybe with you by my side! XOXO

  6. I love your thoughts on this, I love what you taught your children. We cannot let them/him/evil win. I haven’t taken a proper run for a few weeks, but I will run this afternoon, and I will run thinking of you and your resilient and beautiful city.

  7. I love the moments where all aligns and a mother can deliver an important message that our children hear. I love this conversation that you capture here–they are a layering of a meaningful, beautiful life. xo

  8. Thank you. It was one of those ordinary moments where suddenly the conversation felt important, you know?

  9. Yes. Intruding on these special, sacred places (school WAY more than running, by the way … am not saying it’s the same). xox

  10. Yes, I was also taken aback by how personally I took it, how deep the instinctive, gut reaction was. xoxo

  11. Oh lady, I love this. Thinking of you this morning. Stay safe.
    I’m about ready to head out for my long run…wearing my green Bosox hat and a air of defiance. Run on, my friend!

  12. Like you, I’ve never run a marathon. I’ve stuck to 10k and half marathon distances. But each year I go a few blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn and watch the NYC marathon and cheer on the runners. Today I just want to get out into the park and run in solidarity. Hugs to you!

  13. Lindsey, thank you for articulating my feelings so well. I too have run in defiance, I too have claimed and asserted something. I dedicated myself to running 26.2 miles in the week after the bombing, and in each step I held the names of the victims, each breath in was for peace, out was for healing, when I faltered and lagged I thought of all that was lost and dug deep to find that place that can never be broken, and strength returned to my legs and I kept running. I mourn for your city, for your community, for you. But then I think of the dark smear of sadness across the streets and imagine the feet of thousands of runners carrying it away like chalk off the sidewalk, and I run more, hoping that I can help wipe away that sadness. I will not stop. They will not win. We will always triumph. I am with running with you, here in Oregon, along the mighty Willamette, I have 1.4 miles left of my tribute, but many more miles to claim.

  14. I love that you’re doing this – what a wonderful way to honor those who were killed and hurt. I’m really moved. xoxo

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