I sat in the theater between Jose and Tracy with Autumn at my feet. Jose had guided me for Boston 2016 as well as the California National Marathon Championship in 2014. I held Tracy’s hand often and felt many emotional stirrings as the movie and my own recollections intertwined powerfully for a little more than two hours. As the photo above illustrates, I was on that now infamous finish line one day before those bombs would so terribly change the lives of many people. I was crossing after a crowded run of 5 K with pride at Quinn’s incredible work and the friendship of Jennifer Liang who had run ahead of us for most of the race. One day later I was at home while Jennifer and her husband Robert were sitting in the stands watching the finishers and it was far too long before a text message assured me they were safely away. So many emotions welled up through the following days. How do we face such awful and needless violence? How do we respond? For me it brought about the conviction I would learn how to run a marathon and find a way to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon by the next year. While Quinn’s cancer would ultimately and appropriately delay those plans by a year, that moment transformed me into a marathon runner. That moment transformed my life in other ways along with the lives of a community and in many ways a nation.
The movie reinforced for me how much the world came together in support of Boston. We built a rally call of “Boston Strong” and yet it was support from everywhere which touched my heart many times then and still now. It takes the hardest lessons at times to bring people together in such powerful ways. Unfortunately we can also too easily lose those lessons and leave them behind as divisiveness seems all too natural. The lesson I took away then and keep with
me fresh today is simply this. When people do not learn how to communicate in healthy ways, when people do not learn how to resolve differences in healthy ways; the risk of horrific results is higher. I will try to choose to learn communication even when it is of the difficult variety. I will try to find healthier resolutions and I will set my goals in positive community actions and interactions.
This year I will be running my third consecutive Boston Marathon. I have much to share about the approach and excitement ahead. Today, however, I will take the message from the movie Patriot Day with me. On April 17 I will honor the spirit of community so strong after April 15, 2013. I will find strength in the real heroes who put themselves at risk to save lives and make our lives more safe. I will be thankful for my chance to run and for so many with whom I am united in stride.