Earlier this year I ran my first half-marathon in Manhattan as a way to prepare for the Paris Marathon on April 7, 2013. Earlier this month, I completed the race, running 15 minutes below my target time, all the while enjoying the scenery of the Seine River and Parisian cobblestone streets.
Earlier in my training, I had concluded that training for, and ultimately completing a marathon was about as clean and clear as any plan could be. At the time, the way I had looked at accomplishing the goal of running the marathon was one that simplified the 26.2 mile race into "a matter of doing, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly. Unless your goal is to win the actual race, there is little strategy involved regarding competition, contextual factors, etc." Although I'm still processing my experience in Paris, one thing has become much more clear to me:
I was completely and utterly wrong.
Part of why it's taken me such a long time to solidify my post-marathon experience is because eight days after the race, along with the rest of the world, I sat in awe as the events of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded. As horrific and sobering as this news could be, it told me that, against my previous conclusions, there are always contextual factors to take into account.
As evidenced by the outpouring of love and support to Boston - the numerous Google Docs used to pair stranded marathon runners with those who could provide housing, marathon runners running straight to the hospital to donate blood, and random acts of pizza delivered by Redditors, the only thing more important than finding the energy to put one foot in front of the other is finding a way to respond to the circumstances.