The Marathon Spirit

Boston marathon, women runners, running, BostonRunning a marathon is exhausting.

For the loved one of the runner.

Like, for a mom, for instance.

Six years ago my daughter trained for the Boston marathon. I watched her lose weight week by week as she increased her training miles. Her cheeks deepened in her face, her color reddened, matching her strawberry blonde hair. Her legs grew tauter and, yes, she even smiled more.

But I worried. How normal is it to get up at 4 a.m. and run for an hour in the dark and cold before the day begins? How safe is it to run after work at 5 p.m., in the New England dark cold of December and January, when the snow is hard and icy and the street lights dimmed by the freezing temperatures?

Oh yes, I worried like only a mother can.

But my daughter did not falter nor deter from her goal. She holds a deep stream of stubbornness within her – can’t for the life of me figure out where she got it.

I was proud of her, yet still cautious. By the last few weeks before Patriot’s Day – Marathon Day – her body was revolting, trembling in times of stillness. Her roommate had to rush her to the E.R. one night because she’d become too dehydrated.

Boston Marathon, spirit, running, Boston, runnersBut, there I stood on that Patriot’s Day, with my mom, a few yards from the finishing line on Boylston, ready to cheer our daughter/granddaughter four hours after she’d begun to run miles away from center city, early in the morning, with the thousands of other determined, strong, good-hearted men and women from around the world.

On Monday, I thought of that determination and resolve as I watched the horrifying scenes scrolled across our TV screens.

What has some wicked warped human being tried to pull asunder?

That day, six years ago, when I had cheered my daughter on to the end of her arduous run, I was lifted up myself. The thousands of people surrounding my mom and me were cheering too – not just for their loved ones, but for everyone who had placed their efforts and pains and promises right before us, with cramped legs, grimaced faces, but smiles wider than the world.

My soul was lifted that day – oh yes, as were all the souls who watched the miracle of the marathon. Even though we hadn’t pushed and pulled our bodies to their limits, we marveled and celebrated those who had. This celebration made us all one in celebrating the human spirit.

soul lifted, Boston marathon, American spirit

Lifted soul.

We Americans are known for our spirit – and watching the news on Monday, I realized why. Because we’re FREE. And in freedom, comes the ability to push and pull each other in our beliefs and in our struggles. Because we’re free, we’re open to celebrating the heritages and struggles and beliefs of others.

Because we’re free, we cheer on those who show an Olympian might to run 26.2 miles. And because we’re free, we cry with happiness as we watch those runners cross the finish line.

Because we’re free, no terror will stop our spirit. The spirit only thrives as it is strengthened.

So I salute those who train and run a marathon.

I salute those of us who cheer and wave and love all those who show us their marathon spirit.

A spirit that will never be pulled asunder.

America, spirit, marathon

American flags at the Boston Garden.

26 thoughts on “The Marathon Spirit

  1. Yes, I think of all those runners who worked tirelessly to train for that day and who were not able to finish and celebrate in the arms of the crowd at the finish line. But more than that, my heart aches for those innocent spectators who lost their lives and those who will never even walk again, let alone run.


    • I know. I have a couple of friends who made it to Mile 25 in the run. They’re just glad they’re not faster runners. And yes, it was the spectators who got hurt/injured/maimed the most. We all must lift up their spirits in our thoughts, deeds, and prayers.


  2. Pam, thank you for sharing your very personal experience and feelings. Love to all Boston and our country…I just wish we could be more united without a tragedy.


  3. Loved that you and your mother could witness your daughter cross the finish line those years ago and be lifted in spirit buoyed by love. The spirit of America is buoyed by freedom that evil doers cannot sink. I pray for the three lovely souls who lost their lives that their spirits soar to a better place. May the spirits of their loved ones and those who lost limbs on that frightful day be renewed through love and compassion. Thank you, Pam, for this thoughtful post.


  4. It has been so sad, crazy here- even just a short 30 miles away from Boston. A beautiful day for families and achievement became a day of families broken with lives of very young lost. Others hurt beyond belief. Today, a young police officer killed. Lock downs, and police and non-stop media. I just don’t understand the hate these men had, seeing the children and people they would kill and wound as they walked away. Who can do that? I don’t get it and I crave peace. Thanks for your piece today Pam- it was beautiful and really spoke to me today.


    • Thanks for reading and relating what you’re going through. Sad Sad Sad. But yes, our spirits will go past the sad (and the mad) and get to the strength that we need to survive, and get through this, believing that there is a lot more good, than bad, in this world.


  5. Pingback: Still Grieving with Boston | Bite into Nutrition

    • Thank you Karen. I know you’re like me, just listening to the news in horror and anger, but then wanting to move away from that place, to a more productive one based on spirit and strength.


  6. Here in England we had the London Marathon yesterday where two friends ran the course, and, thank God, with no problems. But I was uplifted by the support shared with Boston and the US, made more special personally as I have family there. We are indeed privileged to be free.


  7. This post brought tears to my eyes. All those beautiful people who had trained so hard and all their proud supporters who were caught in the middle of this tragedy is heartbreaking. But the US will go on and the spirit of support that has come out since this happened is overwhelming and a true inspiration to the rest of the world.


    • Yes, I still get teary-eyed. My daughter and her family attended the Red Sox game this past weekend, and I cried as she described how everyone stood up for a minute of silence, and then yelled Boston Strong. How we all come together in SPIRIT is awe-inspiring.


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