"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Friday, April 25, 2014

One Year Later - Returning to Boston

I really ought to have written a blog post prior to my return to Boston. If I had written a post prior to leaving for Boston, I would have told you that I almost didn't go back. I would have told you I booked my flight two weeks before the race. I would have told you I was nervous about leaving Reagan. I would have also told you I didn't train well - partly because of our ugly winter, but mostly because I wasn't sure I was ready to return to Boston. I went back and forth between feeling as though I had to return, and fearing the return. My husband will vouch for the indecisiveness. Every other week we came to a different conclusion about whether we were going. Had I written a post before I left for Boston, I would have told you how I intentionally avoided all forms of media on April 15th, which marked the 1 year anniversary of a long-term dream, followed by events that scarred my heart, and much of humanity. I also would have told you about an amazing community I have surrounding me, who stepped up and offered to watch Reagan so I could return to Boston, and find whatever it was my heart was seeking.

It's interesting how emotion is experienced. Sometimes immediate. But sometimes delayed, and appearing out of nowhere. A feeling that's been pushed down so far, just waiting for the opportune time to come back up. A moment of vulnerability, brokenness, and yet wholeness. Moments came and went throughout our trip. We visited the finish line on Easter morning. I found it strangely paralleled to the day we were celebrating. On Good Friday, Jesus declared "it is finished," but it wasn't the end of the story. We just had to get to Sunday - Easter. Jesus, coming back to life. Restoration. Wholeness. Last year, I finished the race, and safely returned home, but it wasn't over. I needed to return to Boston and finish the story. I took pictures at the finish line on Easter morning. The very line I crossed last year, unharmed, while so many others didn't experience the same fortune. I stared at the fresh coat of paint on the street, boldly declaring FINISH, and I started thinking about why I was running. I wasn't running for an organization. I wasn't running for some noble cause. I wasn't running to raise money for victims who had been injured last year. Selfishly, I was running for me. I was running because I needed it. Because I felt broken by last year's events, and thought running again might repair some of the damage to my spirit. There were moments throughout the weekend where I felt sad, and I had to let it out - I realized that what is denied cannot be healed.
While there were sad moments, there were far more joyous moments. I was able to appreciate the gift of running. I was surrounded by fans and fellow runners who wanted to reclaim the city, restore hope, and add to the beauty. 

I would love to be able to say I had a fantastic race, and PR'd. But I didn't. I wish I could say I loved the race, and every moment of it. But I didn't. Nothing went as planned. I ran 20 minutes slower than my marathon last October. I threw up 3 times along the course, and I cried for almost the entire last 9 miles. I knew the world was watching this race, and I knew I had amazing friends/family praying and cheering me on. I wanted to give this race my best. I had made such a big deal over returning this year. And there I was, in my filth - sweaty, sunburned, puke-y, and walking. I wanted to walk right off the course. Once I realized I could still finish, even if I walked more than I ran, I decided completing the race was attainable. I oscillated between walking and running, and eventually made it to the finish line. There's so much more I could share, given all the beauty I saw during the race but it's too lengthy to type.

Last year broke me emotionally. This year broke me physically, But I'm learning to be ok with that.

"My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness....I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift...and so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

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