Friday, August 8, 2014

It's More Than a Race....

I've been mulling over in my mind, what is it about Sunday's race that seems to have so much emotion for me. Why did I choose this race to aim for a PR?

My friend Bonnie posted this to my wall on Facebook last night:

It all came together for me. The last time I heard J Alain Ferry at the start of a race was on 5/25/13.

From my memoir:

The moving pre-race ceremony began including 30 seconds of silence for those who lost their lives in the bombings. There was music and inspirational speeches and not a dry eye in the crowd as the church choir from where 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed in the blast, made his first communion, sang the National Anthem. Tom and I had our arms around each other. Everyone was in a spiritual embrace.

And then we were off crossing the one mile to go marker in Kenmore Square where four years ago, Tom, our daughter Ruth Anne and I ran toward the finish line. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon for those who couldn't and for those who were told they shouldn't run or would never be able to run again. Back then I was delivering a message of healing, hope and possibility. Today I was one with the survivors knowing they have a long road ahead for them but knowing that they, like me, would be able to go the distance.

We got to Hereford Street and I took a deep breath, as I knew we were going back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and passing The Forum where the second bomb exploded. As we passed in front of the Mandarin, we stopped for a brief moment to give our thanks to the staff who ensured our safety. The two doormen who had been there on Marathon Monday while we watched the race before going upstairs to join the Spaulding Rehab party were there. How healing and wonderful to see them, express our gratitude and be back on a part of Boylston Street I was afraid to visit.

I told Tom I was ready to sprint to the finish line. I said a prayer as we ran by The Forum. I sobbed as the crowds were cheering and we were surrounded by runners with their bib numbers from Marathon Monday and thousands of people who had been touched by the tragic events of April 15. At the finish line we shared stories with one another. We hugged. We cried. We healed.

Despite the cold and the rain, the love and energy of the community kept us warm. The event organizers did an amazing job at honoring the victims of the bombing and the survivors – “You are out there to run for those who can’t.”

That’s why I ran the marathon in ’09 – and here I was running the last mile with a deep connection to the survivors of the bombing knowing in every fiber of my being what it’s like to work to regain mobility and to recover from trauma where you face death. There were so many emotions as we listened to the pre-race ceremony speakers and then as we reclaimed Boylston Street as our own.

As I look back on it, I remember how hard it was for me to run. I pushed myself though. It was the first time I ran since September of 2011. I could hear my body ask me, “Who do you think you are, Bill Rodgers?” Take it easy! You haven’t run in a very long time."

I "just happened" to meet Alain at Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon Festival Weekend. He invited me to Sunday's race giving me post cards to spread the word about the event.

Returning to the roads with the #onerun, I realized how important it was for me to get back to running and the running community. I knew how important it was for me to find my way back to myself after my nephew's suicide and taking a detour on my healing path.

I am so blessed that I was able to let go of people and practices that were not supporting me on my healing journey and found my way to the healing path I am now on.

Sunday's race is to benefit Prostate Cancer. We are all survivors of something in this life we live. I have nothing to prove yet I have everything to prove to myself. I've worked hard to get back to running and to experience the fullness of my body while living with the late effects of paralytic polio and healing in the wake of 9 years of violence as a child and teenager.

I am running not just for myself on Sunday but for all those who were told they couldn't, shouldn't or for whatever reason, cannot run right now. I know what a gift it is to go full out when the gun goes off and see what this body can do.

And while it may be just be a small 5K race on a Sunday afternoon at Boston College, for me, it's so much more than a race.

I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma in my memoir, "Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" available along with all of my books on Amazon. I donate 50% of royalty payments to The One Fund to benefit survivors of 4/15/13.

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