Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dear Boston



Maybe it’s the defiance of a marathoner.

That manifestation of beating the odds to run 26.2 miles that fosters this desire to take what reality has given you, and turn it into what you choose. 

A task that seems easier said than done, after a race in which the reality of things greater than marathons seemed to win the day. A day with a finish line shrouded in smoke, bags and medals left in boxes, and more that I can't seem to bring myself to type.

It's a day none of us will forget, those of us who were there, and those who watched from afar.

And yet, there's that defiance, this need to say something, to find that which has not been said, to manipulate this present in order to dull the pain of the past. But I don't know what to say, so I find myself listening instead. Riding the roller coaster loop of news coverage, of repetition and the promise of breaking news. Reading Tweets and Facebook posts, press releases and official statements.

These many words, and stories blending together in my head, creating these common themes that run together. Themes of people who want desperately to turn the page, through action. This desire to create something to focus our communal energies. And this lingering thought, as I walk through my day, that no matter how old you are, you're a kid until you have kids, and then you're a parent. 

But though all them, through all these quotes, and invitations to honorary runs, and vigils, I hear in each this defiance. This resilience that seems to be at the heart of what we all default to, and one that I wonder if unto itself, really serves us. Cause as I see it, I keep coming back to the same thought.

That the opposite of hatred and violence, isn't merely resilience for the sake of defiance, it's the resilience for the sake of love. 

And what better way to describe your marathon.

Your City's 26.2 mile love letter, written one word at a time by each of the smiling, cheering faces passed along the course. A love letter read aloud word by word to each and every runner who runs by. A love letter I've been lucky enough to hear on three separate occasions, in 2010, 2012, and this past Monday.

I heard it in the never ending stream of anonymous high fives protruding from your abundant crowds. In the screams, willing me to pick back into a jog, and fight further against the 89 degree heat of 2012, as though they had been there training with me for the last three months. And in the way young boys and girls stand on curbs, from Hopkinton, to the Boylston, holding out small plastic cups of water to the strangers that run by.

And maybe that's what I've wanted to say to you this whole time. 

That maybe the answer to our uncertain desire to stand up and defy this violence, is the old running adage, "that sometimes the answer is not to speed up, but to slow down". That maybe the best response to such hatred, is not to do something new to stand up to it, but to acknowledge that you already have. That you as a City, and a marathon, need not prove anything in the days, and years to come to show that you are stronger than any act of terror, but simply to point back at what you have done to this point. To say, not that the marathon will be bigger than this tragedy, but that it already is.

That the true beauty of the Boston Marathon, is not in it's historical past, it's present elite competition, but rather in the kindness that it treats each and everyone who steps upon it. The spirit that it passes to complete strangers, without condition or pretense.

And though it hardly lessens the sadness of the events of Monday, it seems worth noting that the cowardly violence directed at hundreds, pales in comparison to the kindness, and love given to thousands. That of those opening their homes to runners stranded on the course, to the lines of people waiting to donate blood, and maybe most of all, to those who ran towards the smoke, not knowing what lay inside it.

So maybe this letter is more of a "Thank you" than anything else, a thank you with a promise attached to it.

A promise to tell those who were not there, that the real story was not the twelve seconds between explosions, but the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days that followed. A promise to stand up with strangers, to echo the kindness, the goodness, and the love that lives in your marathon.
 
A promise to never forget 2013, and to be there again in 2014.
 
Sincerely,
 
Daniel Colameco
Bib #1562


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stories

Authors Note- I came across this quote one time, though the source is not entirely important at this point. The quote said "I want to be someone with a lot of stories"... I agreed.

I guess it didn't ever feel that long ago until I sat down to write about it.

It's funny how that happens. How time gets away from you, or maybe it's that it catches up with you, I'm not entirely sure which one and I'm not entirely sure it matters.

Most of you who know me, will know that maybe above all other things, I like to tell stories. And those of you who know me very well, know that on occasion, the stories I tell tend to grow larger in exaggeration as time goes on.

Though I've found as time goes by, this one needs none.

It's a story from some years, and many stories, ago. A story I don't tell often, but a story I've told many times. It's a simple story, short, and sweet. A story that happened to me, but has little to do with me.

It's the story of the first marathon, and a story that has almost nothing to do with running.

It was November, 2009. And I was lying in bed, awaking to the most bizarre day in any runner's life...

The day before the race. A day marked by it's juxtaposition, where the weight of a marathon butts against the wait for a marathon. A day with nothing to do, but sit around and think of all you have to do tomorrow.

But I think I am getting ahead of myself.

Cause sometimes 2009, for me, can seem a long time ago. Sometimes when I look back on the person I was, I can spend time wondering if that was really me, timid, with a wealth of uncertainty. I can wonder this, because on any given day, even though 2009 feels far away, those lingering aspects of my person don't always feel so far. Sometimes I wonder, on darker days, if that is really the person I was, or the person I still am. Yet on brighter days, I hear the voice of a friend reminding me, that it doesn't fucking matter.


These were the days that I started running, the days where it was easier to be going somewhere, than actually being anywhere.

And it was within these days, in that bedroom, and in that skin, that I woke up less than twenty four hours from running my first marathon.

I remember laying there for a few minutes, then rolling over and wrestling my phone off it's charger. I opened up the screen doing a brief double take at the small red number hanging over the small "text message" icon at the bottom of it.

"14"

My thumb rolled over to the icon. My confusion grew exponentially upon viewing the list of texts, noting that none of them are from numbers I recognize, and odder yet, none of them from area codes that I recognize. My mind turned to assume that I must have been included in some bizarre text scam, or some chain letter, but stop when I see "Hey Dan,...." at the start of one.

And so I opened them.

One by one, I opened the text from these strangers.

"Hey Dan, heard you are running a marathon tomorrow, you're gonna be great."

"U are a miracle, kick ass tomorrow"

"We believe in you, good luck tomorrow"

Text after text, from people I'd never met.

Until I get to the last one. The last one from a number I did recognize. A text from my friend Ed.

And before I opened it, suddenly the pieces come together in my head. Of Ed sending a text, with my name and number to his friends as far away as North Dakota, asking for a favor.

And then I opened Ed's.

"You are the force of love, and we the wind at your back"

That was it.

Thirteen words.

Thirteen words that I have copied and sent to others before their first marathon, thirteen words that you may have even received from me at some point.

Cause somehow, despite their limited characters, they seem to say everything. Because in a sea of well wishes, good lucks, and eloquent quotes, they stand out as something else. Not as inspiration, but as a reminder.

A simple reminder, that you are who you because of the love you were given. That the strength in everything from your legs to your heart, is through the grace of love, of all who have loved you. And the quiet assurance, that though you may be out there running by yourself, that you are never alone, and that this love is always right behind you.

So as I sit here today outside of Boston, some three and a half years later, on the day before the day, I couldn't really think of a better story to tell.

And to tell all of you who love me, that of the many I'll choose to run for tomorrow, atop them all will be the wind at my back.