When I think of a running, from San Francisco to marathons in New York, my memories are of peace, wind, and observing life around me. I enjoyed running distances, especially when you added the excitement of a race and the crowds that come out to cheer and encourage in San Francisco and New York. I cannot go anywhere near this memory without revisiting my first marathon and the surprise support I received near the halfway point in Queens.
With recent events I have added a new emotion to my thoughts of running, fear. It is a sad reminder that nothing is beyond terror’s imagination and reach. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be near. In an instant the joy of running, wonder of being in a crowd focused on a single goal, would have shifted to thoughts of survival. I cannot imagine anyone anticipating that shift. Who could have been prepared for it, mentally or physically? It just happened.
I close my eyes and block out the images on the news, trying to go back and remember the early mornings heading out to the Presidio. On most mornings I was out by 5. They were always cool. On many occasions the run started in the fog. The sounds I remember were the wind, occasionally ship’s horn in the bay, and the sound of feet on the pavement. Life always came into focus. It was as if each run was an answer to an old prayer; “Let me run loose and free, celebrating God’s great work.” (Psalm 35.9)
By the end of the run, my body dripping with sweat as sun gently began to show itself behind Oakland. There were ways I could balance the heat with the shade, so it was always a fun run. The intense stairs near the end of the run created a wonderful burn in my legs, reminding me that I was alive.
I pray for those touched for terror today. May they be healed in all the ways needed; may they rediscover the joy of running free.