Marathon Hearts

I finished my first marathon two years ago.

26.2 miles is a long distance. It’s not to be taken lightly.

I trained faithfully for months. I woke in the black, early-morning hours and queued my playlist. I dedicated my weekends to long runs, to having my dear, devoted husband meet me every 5-7 miles with water and Gu. I soaked deep, painful blisters in my favorite salt water pool, I pulled dead toenails off one by one. I chose my diet carefully, cut back on my red wine consumption. On one long run, I got sick, dehydrated, threw up in the darkness by the side of the road, wandering around aimlessly until Chris came to get me.

I kept running.

My heart strengthened, my quads tightened, my resolve deepened. I lost pounds and gained strength. On race day, my family was there, cheering me on. A friend recorded the miles with his camera. I wasn’t fast, but I was determined. My private fan club ran the last 0.2 miles with me, clapping, encouraging. It was a monumental event.

Running 26.2 miles is not a simple task.

Running 26.2 miles in Boston is even bigger. It’s the Rock Star Status marathon, the pinnacle.

Those with their broken, dark, hurting hearts undoubtedly knew. They knew 26,000 runners had prepared their minds and bodies, knew hundreds of thousands would be there to cheer them on.

They knew.

But here’s what they don’t know.

Here, angry saboteurs, is what you don’t know… what you’ll never understand.

Those of you with your bombs and guns and anger and hatred and vitriol, you cannot win. You can hurt us, maim us, wound us, bring us to our collective knees, but you don’t get to rule with your fear-mongering and your cowardice. You might carelessly, thoughtlessly take our loved ones, our limbs, the red blood that courses through our veins, but you cannot have us.

You will not break us. We will not allow it.

Runners’ hearts are strong. Our human hearts are strong. For the 26,000 you targeted, there are millions more willing to run to help, to hold, to comfort, to encourage, to soothe, to support.

You don’t get to win.

This existence we’ve been gifted is a roller-coaster ride of laughter and pain and happiness and devastation, but the heart of humanity — this, I sincerely believe — is good and true.

That heart might be hurting right now — deeply, devastatingly — but it’s there beating. Thump, thump. Do you hear it? Strongly, steadily. Healing, hoping, helping.

We are lifting our eyes to the future, to the ways in which we can help, to the care of our fellow human beings. It’s our mission, our goal, our next 26.2.

Our strong, marathon hearts know the way.

You will not deter us. We know the course.

We are lacing our shoes right now. We will step quietly back into the race. We will speak not with our voices, but with our steps. One, then another, then another. Forward.

This journey, this life, continues.

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7 thoughts on “Marathon Hearts”

  1. Oh, what beautiful words to read in the midst of this tragedy and all other heartbreaks, hurdles, and hindrances. I love how you said our hearts are still beating, perhaps in devastation, but still beating! I’m not a marathon runner, but I’m joining you in the next 26.2 and caring for others.

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