Okay, so I know I’ve been silent on the blog this week. Life has been a little bit crazy with some curve balls that got thrown during my trip, and then when I was driving back to Tallahassee I heard about the Boston Marathon bombing on the radio. Throughout the week things have still been a little crazy, and I have been trying to process what’s happened. Of course now as the events just get more wild it’s an even harder thing to comprehend but I have a few things I want to put out there! I will elaborate on my Knoxville and Nashville adventures sometime soon, and I will share pictures. In the meantime, I’ll tell you that Tennessee won me over instantly. I have a special spot in my heart for this state, now.
I was driving on the interstate when I heard the announcement over the radio. Immediately it felt hard to breathe. I kept trying to walk myself through deep breaths, and staying calm. So many thoughts flooded to my mind, between the people that I know were there, the people I know that could be there, but then beyond that – running in general. If you’ve visited this blog before you know how passionate I am about running. There is something incredibly special about races. When I participated in my first 5K in August of last year, I was instantly hooked. I totally felt that sense of camaraderie with the people surrounding me as our feet pounded the paths of the trails. I have never been disappointed about any race I’ve participated in – they’re too fun for that! Between the runners, volunteers, spectators, supporters – I’ve never come across anything quite like it. There is just this overwhelming positive energy that exists every time. These people, essentially strangers, all share one common bond. It doesn’t matter your place in the work world, your gender, race, or age. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been running, or how fast or slow you are. It’s an undeniable thread that connects each of us.
(My friend Lizzi who qualified for Boston 2014 posted this on Facebook this week, and it speaks volumes.)
Then there’s the other side of running. It has saved my sanity. Of that, I am sure. And I turn to running as outlet in times of frustration (that’s how it all began for me, anyway.) So to reek such malicious, cruel, havoc on an event of such celebration? I mean, this is like the Olympics of running. It’s a lifelong dream for many. It’s a big deal for everyone involved, the event organizers, the history behind the marathon, for the runners – their families and supporters. What is wrong with people? Such a heartbreaking thing for everyone involved. Just the attempt to take away something people love in such a dark violent way – it’s just sad and senseless. Thankfully, everyone I knew up there is safe. Because I didn’t have a phone, I wasn’t connected to an instant stream of info through email and Twitter like I normally would be, which probably helped my psyche at the time. But when I checked my email on my mom’s phone in Tallahassee I saw the flood of messages from GWTC list-serv, and wow. I was just floored. This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve read that relate to Monday’s events, and a runner’s heart.
While we have this frustrating situation, what is uplifting about everything is the awesome compassion that has shined such a light on everything – how inspiring it is to see pure intentioned people just helping one another – no questions asked, in whatever way that means. I am sure throughout the week, you’ve probably seen this quote from Mister Rogers (genius!) floating around:
I have to tell you, that I know things like this are scary. This morning I woke up and glanced at Facebook and saw some posts that didn’t make sense so I switched to Twitter and woke up immediately when I saw the news that was transpiring with the suspects. I went out of my room and told my roommate who had already turned on the TV (though it was barely 6am.) I was just blown away by how crazy it all seemed, so what did I do? Lace up my shoes and go for a run. Because that’s what I do. So, I’ll say that yeah I feel like this is just really hard to even mentally grasp (especially with the bombings Monday, the explosion in Texas, then with the lockdown and search…) texting my friend who’s parents live there, hearing it on the radio on my drive to work, and now on the TV while I’m at work and it’s just a lot to take in. BUT but so so so important some things to remember: like Mister Rogers says, look for the helpers. They are there. While the world can be so unpredictable, dark and scary – there is so much good. So much good.
I myself have been overwhelmed with the kindness of people in the past month. It hasn’t even been a month when my engine exploded on the way to Jacksonville, (and look what happened then? Cousin rushed to where I was on the interstate, Jules scooped me up en-route to Jax.) Over the weekend I accidentally left my cell phone in a cab. The manager of the cab company (Brett) was so nice and really tried to help as much as he could. No luck, but that is not worth spoiling a trip over. When I got back to Sanford on Monday (well, after another stranger who had helped me with my bag when I was flying out on Friday AND REMEMBERED ME we chatted about our trips, and he helped me with my bag, again!) I was walking to the parking lot and thought it was odd that my horn didn’t beep when I pressed the key. Come to find out my car battery had died over the weekend. So there I was with no phone and a dead car. A couple across the lot asked if I needed help, and they saved my day in a big way. The husband got out to help me, and let me borrow his phone, while his wife CIRCLED THE PARKING LOT attempting to find someone with jumper cables! She found someone, then that van load came over as well. (Weird coincidence the man was someone I remembered from the airport on Friday because he was also wearing running shoes sitting down the aisle from me.) This man jumped my car, and then looked in his GPS and gave me the address and directions to the nearest Advanced Auto Parts. Then the couple, offered to let me FOLLOW THEM to the store, to make sure I got there alright (not lost, and without breaking down.) Can you believe that? We stopped at a Napa first, and the man got out to go check on the battery so I wouldn’t need to turn off my car. Then we went further up the road to Advanced, and he went in and checked there (the other place didn’t do batter installations.) At that time the woman let me use her phone again to call my mom so she’d know I got somewhere that I could get a battery (She said, if it were my daughter I’d want her to be able to call and tell me.) Then the husband came out again and they did have the battery but he was soo nice in making sure I had the funds to pay for it because they didn’t want me to get stuck there! Then the Advanced Auto Parts guys, Chris & Michael were so kind as well. I was there for a while. They let me use the store phone. I made a plan with my mom. Figured out an exit to meet her at because they wanted me to take my car to a shop they were concerned at the levels it was showing up at on the test even with a new battery. I was there for more than an hour, and at one point it was like I was a fellow employee (they even joked that I should apply for a job there, and about how I should meet Brucey (apparently a grumpy sketchy old man.) They even let me behind the counter to use the phone and helped me with directions (another stranger letting me use their phone.) I was overwhelmed with gratitude towards this constant stream of generous, good spirited people. My “luck” (it’s not luck, it’s like this crazy combination of grace and guidance in this path of sweet people) continued throughout the week. I don’t know much about cars, so really anyone could take advantage of my weakness there, but they don’t. A friend from Inverness gave me her daughter’s old phone, so I didn’t have to buy a new one. I wasn’t charged for getting my car checked out, (when they didn’t find anything wrong with it!), a man at Sam’s had the installation fee waived on some new tires since I’d come in last week too. Then there was this weird thing going on with the windshield and the guy was like hey! this is no problem, I can just snap this little piece here and you’re good. Seriously. Not even kidding you.
My point is, life is crazy, the world is crazy, you never know what’s coming. If all these things came my way when I was in my earlier twenties, I’d have fallen apart some where. These days, I’ve learned to roll with the punches. You gotta take what comes your way and figure out how to keep moving, make a plan of action, do something. If I was sitting in the middle of a parking lot crying, I’d probably still be there. None of these people had any obligation to me, no one had to help, or offer anything but again and again they appeared. One person after another continued to be an example of compassion, love, and sweet-natured kindness. My faith in humanity couldn’t be stronger.
So now what? You continue to look for a helper. You BE a helper. Be nice. Everyone seems surprised at my own weird chain of events this week, but the thing is the nicer you are to people? They have to try really hard to be mean back. It doesn’t always work, but you have to try. And not being nice is stupid. Don’t let fear stop you from living your life. Appreciate where you are, what you have, who you’re surrounded by. For me, this is a year of reunions – a celebration of friendship, and with everything going on it just makes me more thankful for the time I’ve spent with people I love lately. Make the most of life, enjoy all the little moments. Make spontaneous decisions, take the adventures.
Tomorrow morning Tallahassians will take to the streets and run the Palace Saloon 5K wearing blue & yellow ribbons showing support. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll drive over to Orlando for Andrew McMahon’s show at The Beacham, but Sunday I want to be back in time for the 5.2 at 5 for Boston. I am looking forward to pounding the pavement with people I’ll feel connected to, without question.
Keep running, keep loving, keep living. Smile. Believe in the good. I promise, it’s there.