While a joke may have commenced my jogging hobby, a tragedy planted the seed that’d grow into my serious running habit.
In the afternoon of April 15, 2013, I sat with some classmates in the back of my high school library, supposedly working on our online college classes. In the midst of our senioritis, a notification popped up on an iPad — USA Today: Reports of a bombing at Boston Marathon.
I relayed the message to our adviser, an avid marathoner, and sat in silence.
Later, we’d find out how horrific the scene was. Three killed. Hundreds injured. A city, and nation, shattered.
At the time, I had no ties to Boston. The terrorist attacks occurred over 1,500 miles away, yet I felt a gloom I’d never felt after a tragedy, be it shooting or disaster.
Days later, I stared at the “Sports Illustrated” out of our mailbox, with the cover photo of three police officers scattering around a fallen runner, the sky an ominous haze. I was captivated, reading and following the tragedy as much as I could. Looking back, I think I felt ignoring the news would be doing a dishonor to the victims.
A month later, my mom had run another Fargo Marathon 10K. She brought me back a bracelet from the race that looked like a Livestrong knockoff. It read: “Fargo Loves Boston,” “United We Go Far” and 4.15.13.”
Have you ever truly appreciated your mobility, my able-bodied friend? Or that you’ve lived a couple decades and still have all your limbs?
I hadn’t until I saw the maimed victims in Boston. Runners doing the most liberating of events ended up losing everything.
I decided, then, to celebrate my ability in honor of those who no longer could. It wasn’t for self-righteousness. It wasn’t to make a statement. It was between Boston and me.
The bracelet went on my left wrist and didn’t come off until May 10, 2014, after my first half marathon. I crossed the finish line listening to a rendition of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” a recording of which Steven Tyler recorded in tribute to the victims.
The bracelet’s ink had all but faded away by my first race, but the memories, happy and sad, won’t.
Soggy Jogging is Ben’s running running column, published every Monday.