Runners are more than familiar with pain. It's our bread and butter. We love to hurt. We believe in endurance, in suffering, in brutal and soul-withering work.
But ours is not a violent sport.
See, there's a difference between pain and violence. Violence violates. You see it so clearly in what happened today. The morning showed pain as triumph and pain as failure. The suffering carved out on the face of Dulce Felix (what a sweet name) as her legs no longer worked, as her glory faded into defeat, as the marathon gods smote her for believing too much, for wanting too much, was noble suffering. The suffering of loss, but sensible loss, human loss. This sort of loss was not a violation because all it risked was victory -- such a small thing in the grand scheme. Sweet happiness led the race, and then faded. Such is life. It requires endurance.
With Jeptoo we saw strength overcoming pain. We saw her, after 24 miles of hard running, run harder. We saw the glory of a healthy body at the peak of its talent, at the peak of its performance. We saw what can be, sometimes, in rare moments: a life almost without limits. A picture of fragile triumph.
The Boston Marathon is, in many ways, a celebration of human effort. We come together on Patriots Day to remind ourselves of the joy and pain of work and effort. Everyone who has taken the marathon seriously knows that to make your peace with the marathon means learning to love the grind over the result, the pain over the triumph, and the hard push over the finishing time. Marathoners embrace these things because in a race so long, there are few perfect races. Doing well is always just that: doing well. We never do our best, but we do enough. That's what endurance means.
That would have been lesson enough. But when two blasts rung out around 2pm, running experienced violence. We were violated. Those two blasts introduced pain without effort. Suffering beyond endurance. A bomb is quick, thoughtless, grotesque, impatient, unfeeling. It's all externality, no internality. All destruction, no training. All noise, no silence. All damage, no strength. A bomb is the opposite of a marathon.
We opt for violence when we can no longer endure the difficulty of living with others, the difficulty of recognizing our limits, the difficulty of being vulnerable ceaselessly to pain. To endure is to keep going in spite of those limits and the pain of life. To endure is to expose ourself to the world, to others, to the ravages of time and effort. To endure is to risk loving, to risk being loved. A marathon doesn't always have to symbolize this. Sometimes it is just a race that runners run. But this year it is more -- it is a symbol of endurance.
A bomb is the opposite of a marathon.
Tomorrow, despite the bombs, we will be running. We will be afraid, but we will not fight. Or rather, we will fight by not fighting, by choosing flight, we runners, we believers in endurance.