Editor's note: Michelle Noehren is the founder and editor of CTWorkingMoms.com -– an award-winning website focused on supporting working mothers. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. CT Working Moms is on Facebook and Twitter.
I stayed home from work Tuesday. After watching video from Monday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I just wanted to hole up in my house wearing PJs, ignoring my computer, thinking about anything other than what had happened. The wounds my local Connecticut community has from Newtown have hardly had time to heal, and now another horrific event occurred in a city nearby, a city I love, a city that every New Englander has stories about.
Monday was a hard day. I had intense emotions ranging from never wanting to let my daughter go to feeling really irritable and upset. I felt sad that I’m raising my daughter in a world where senseless violence feels commonplace. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel any better. So I dropped my child off at day care, came home and planted myself on the couch. I let myself wallow for a while and then by lunch, had a change of heart.
I decided to do what I knew many other runners were doing today. I put on my running clothes, laced up my shoes and drove out to a local trail. While I was running, I kept thinking about Boston and about runners in general. I saw someone post on Facebook that running is a compassionate sport where everyone, regardless of ability, is welcome. That is so true. I’m not exactly what you’d call elite. I’m a back of the pack gal who is really more of a jogger than a runner. I ran my first 5K back in 1996 and went on to run several half marathons. During all my training runs on my local streets, anytime I would pass another runner he/she would either wave, smile or nod in my direction. I liken this to how motorcyclists have a special little gesture they give each other on the road. You’re part of the group.
A few years ago, I ran my first marathon in Delaware. During most of the race, spectators lined the course. My run was going really well until right after I hit the half marathon mark. Somehow I had developed a urinary tract infection during the race and I was in so much pain. I didn’t think I could finish. I sat on the curb and cried, thinking that this was it, seven months of training and I wasn’t going to cross the finish line. Multiple other runners asked me if I was OK, encouraged me to keep going. That’s what runners do. We help each other.
I picked myself up (with the help of one of my best friends) and I hobbled my way through the rest of the distance. I was almost the last one to cross the finish line that day but you know what? The race directors kept the race open and even though there were no more spectators left (except for my family), the race staff congratulated me. Because that’s what runners do. We support each other.
I thought about all of this today while my feet hit the dirt in a rhythmic pattern and the sun shone down on my face. I thought about how in the video of the blast that’s been all over the Internet, you see all these runners and volunteers running TOWARD the explosion to help people. That’s what runners do, you see. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t get to finish the race they had been training so hard for, what mattered at that moment was helping those around them.
And that’s what I need to focus on. I can’t let this tragedy harden my heart. I can, however, choose to look at the beautiful example of compassion and humanity that was at that finish line Monday. I can choose to let this reaffirm my faith in the human race, and I can continue on with a resolve to live my life in a way that helps others. I choose to let love win.