18 Days

If I counted correctly, there are only eighteen days until I run my first half-marathon. My time training has gone by so fast, and I hope I’m prepared. For my own mental game I had to throw away the idea of finishing in a certain time, and am trying to come to terms with the fact that I may have to walk some of this. I’ve come a long way in training, but even with all of this preparation, my first half may not be what I imagined it being, and that’s okay.

I have a LOT of apprehension about this race. I tend to question and doubt myself, hallmarks of my self-deprecating nature. I must remember I’m running my own race, not trying to live up to anyone else’s expectations, and there’s truly nothing I can do to disappoint anyone. I have a lot of support for this, and I need to change my focus to that instead of worrying about letting people down.

When I started this post three days ago, I had planned on writing about my apprehension with some light-hearted humor. Given the attacks at the Boston Marathon yesterday, my approach has changed. I tried to block as much as I could from my kids, changing the channel when they came into a room, or changing the radio station while we’re in the car, but nevertheless they have been exposed and are fully aware of what has happened. Almost immediately Jacob says to me he hopes this doesn’t happen at my race. This is not something an eight year old needs to worry about.

Izzy has not quite understood what the race is from the time I tried to explain it to her. All along she’s been asking me to stay home with her instead. I think in her mind this race is far, far away and I’ll be gone for a long time. This falls on a weekend when they are with their dad, so it shouldn’t be too far out of the ordinary for them. I’m not sure what she understands of the attacks, but she has asked a lot of questions. Both of them have. I tell them this was done by bad guys, the police are searching for the bad guys, they will find them, and the bad guys will go to jail. I also tell them that the people who are hurt are being taken care of by good doctors, and the people who died are safe in heaven.

This is the second time in four months that I’ve had to explain something unexplainable to them. Here’s another event where good, innocent people are hurt or killed by another’s selfish motives. I have to somehow calmy, confidently, and reassuringly answer my kids’ questions when I don’t even know the answers. I tell them that I will be safe at my race, but I know I can’t guarantee it. I would love to think that they won’t experience any more events like this, but it won’t happen. I can shield them some now, but as they get older and understand more, their questions will get harder, and their hearts will break. I don’t like seeing their innocence ripped away from them.

Since 9/11 events like this have had heightened security, and undoubtedly the Boston Marathon organizers had excellent plans in place to ensure the safety of the runners and spectators. I don’t want to say everyone lulled into a sense of security, because every day I wake up and I don’t expect to hear about things like this. Maybe I’m naive. When I first heard the news, my gut instinct was hoping it wasn’t an act of terrorism. I sincerely hoped it was an accident, like a nearby building had a utility problem that caused it. In that instance, it is still horrible that anyone would be hurt or killed, but at least it wasn’t at the hands of evil. When I heard of the second explosion, there was no way it was an accident. And that’s when my heart fell. My own questions fill my head, and there’s no one to answer them. I suppose I have a misguided sense of optimism that these events will stop and everything will be okay. I don’t know.

What strikes me about this story is hearing about people coming to action. Watching video footage, one immediately sees police running towards the blast, and people rushing to help others. On Facebook, I saw many of my high school classmates sharing a story from The New York Times. I graduated high school with Dr. Natalie Stavas who is featured in this article. She was running in the race, and immediately came to the aid of those who needed it. I think I speak for thousands when I say I’m very proud of her and her actions. I’m also glad she’s safe. But I wish she didn’t have to experience this. I wish no one did.

The moment that stuck a knife into my chest was learning that one of the people killed by the attacks was an eight year old boy. The same age as my son. Same toothy grin, with a mix of baby and big kid teeth. This sweet boy was cheering for his father, and lost his life. It’s not fair. I’m another parent who hugged her kids closer yesterday, and still today. My heart goes out to his family. I don’t know what else to say.

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