April 15, 2013: Do you remember where you were when you heard the news of the bombing at the Boston marathon? We all heard in horror of this tragic event at one of the most iconic running venues. As a first year runner , I was still learning about the history of the Boston marathon along with the dedication and acceptance into running this historic event. I was at work that day and remember asking for a break-crying over what happened even though I didn't know anyone personally who was running in the marathon. This year I am proud to say that I have many friends running in the marathon wishing them good luck as they cross the finish line. As runners, we are all one community-united by our sense of well-being and accomplishment, wonderful friends and memories. We are so strong as a community; one of the many reasons why this tragedy struck all of our hearts, passions and accomplishments with overwhelming grief.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, Boston Strong was a mantra for the city and the world. If we repeated it, vocalized it, tweeted and hashtagged it enough, it would actually give us strength to get through the tragedy. After the initial shock of the trauma, Boston Strong became an anthem, a badge that the City of Boston could wear to show solidarity in the strength of our community. It became a way that we could identify the heroic actions of first responders and the brave rehabilitation of survivors.
What is Boston Strong? What is Strength? I look at all the individual moments, hours, and days when we as a running community have struggled with the idea of how reactions and coping mechanisms fit in with the definition of Boston Strong. It can’t be a show of strength to stifle or lock away sadness. It has to be healthy to connect with emotions and understand the tragedy that two bombs can inflict. Strength can’t mean being in control of emotions like an automaton, rather understanding that life – especially in the wake of tragedy – is an unpredictable emotional journey that demands much of our focus and energy. Strength is not forcing the body to endure injury or trauma, rather understanding the damage inflicted and how we need to heal. As runners we all support each other in our quests-wonderful or tragic-we are invincible together.