Wednesday marked a month since bombs struck the Boston Marathon and despite the terror, it seems as though slowly but surely the city and the nation have started to heal. Through prayer, support, or runs in memoriam, the path to recovery has taken shape. And here in Oregon, home of Track Town USA and a population of outdoors enthusiasts, the run feels stronger than ever.
Three weeks ago, I wrote a piece encouraging the “run for Boston” and I was sure to follow my own advice. Last Saturday, after a quick three weeks of training, I ran in my first race. I headed home for Lake Oswego’s annual Lake Run to finish a 10k.
I have to admit that prior to the race, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a runner. My occasional weekly jogs consisted of completing two miles as quickly as I could. Learning how to pace myself and run for over 50 minutes was a foreign process. There were plenty of times during my hurried training that I thought I would be going home to humiliate myself. The runs fit in between class periods and work consisted of walking, erratic paces, and plenty of frustration.
But somewhere along the way, while I put bad runs behind me and increased my mileage, I found something that I failed to realize was missing. Up through high school I had long invested in an athletic career, whether it was on the soccer or softball fields. Practices, games, and training were a year round activity for me – almost more frequent and normal than school. Two years ago when I left for college, I said goodbye to the sports that had for so long kept me happy, fit, and sane. The chance to participate recreationally was always there but it still wasn’t the same. It lacked the competition, the sense of accomplishment, and the stress relief I didn’t realize sports had always given me.
Running, the activity that had only ever been a training exercise, suddenly provided me with the same rush I had once thrived on. I wasn’t the fastest at the race and I wasn’t the slowest either. But as soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I had found my place. And I knew it was only the first race.
I tell this story because it all started during a time when spirits across the country were low. The bombings instilled fear, anger, and terror and they will never seem fair. To me and to many they were senseless. But signing up for the race and crossing the finish line was a chance to make a positive out of the negative. It was a chance to make sense out of the senseless.
The race shirts at the Lake Run had a yellow and blue heart printed for Boston on the chest. At the start line, I spotted plenty of shirts in support of the city and I was sure to sport a Boston Red Sox hat as I took the course. A month has passed and the wound still heals. I, for one, will certainly remember and will always be proud to say that my first run, my first race, was for Boston.
Samantha Saldivar is on Twitter. Follow her at @SammySaldivar