I will likely never qualify for the Boston Marathon. I'm not even sure I'll run a full marathon at this point, so a BQ isn't even on my bucket list (although how awesome would it be to go watch the race in person someday).
Regardless of my personal involvement with marathoning, I love the Boston Marathon. I love its history, and I love the idea of running through such a cool city (having been there exactly once, I'm obviously an authority on its coolness factor).
And what's more amazing than watching what the human body is capable of doing?
Which is what made the fact that two people chose to also show what human cruelty is capable of doing in that same venue last year that much more horrific.
Thankfully, for the two people who wanted to wreak havoc and spread hatred, there have been thousands of people who want to perpetuate joy and spread love in rebuttal.
One Run for Boston is just one portion of those thousands of people, made up of several thousand on its own. Started by three runners who just wanted to do something to show the victims of the marathon bombing and the people of Boston that they have the running community's support, the first One Run was in the summer of last year.
It was so successful - in terms of both fundraising and community building - that the One Run for Boston 2 started last week from the Santa Monica pier in California, once again headed east toward the city that the run is supporting.
When I learned that the run would be going through Phoenix this time around, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it and gladly paid my entry fee, which, like all other funds raised by the organization, were sent to give financial support to the bombing victims and their families.
I signed up for Group Stage 52, which was held at Papago Park near the zoo. Many of the stages are individual, but there are also group stages, like this one, in which a "the more the merrier" emphasis is placed. This was a shorter distance, which, as I signed up when my legs were still aching from shin splints, sounded good, and since it was a loop around the park, I knew I'd be able to get back to my car easily.
What I didn't count on was Husband getting his teaching assignment to overlap the run, which meant that I'd have to find a middle of the week evening sitter for HRH. Or bring her with me.
Now, the last time HRH ran with me, it was at the run for Boston event held by Sole Sports Tempe, where she fell and scraped up her knee. She'd been scared to run with me ever since, but this was not negotiable, so there may or may not have been ice cream related bribery involved to get her to acquiesce and not complain.
I also explained the importance of the run to her, and even though empathy is not easily understood by a 5-year-old, she understood that this was a solemn event and agreed not to complain as long as the ice cream I promised could be obtained in either a cone or cup.
It was truly a beautiful evening for a run. The weather (sorry to everyone else everywhere else) was perfect. In the low 80s in the afternoon, once the sun started to dip below the horizon, it was deliciously cool, making for the best conditions.
Before the baton got to the park we took some time to chat with the other runners, including Chris over at The Half Fast Runner, and sign the official One Run for Boston car (donated by Toyota, one of the official sponsors for ORFB).
At first, she was nervous.
"What if I fall again."
"Then you get back up."
"Will you run too fast?"
"I'll run as fast or as slow as you want to. We can even play Red Light Green Light if you want."
"That sounds like fun."
That's when my daughter remembered that she loves to run.
Since I did have HRH with me, I opted to cut through the park a bit, as I wasn't sure she'd be able to make the 5 mile run, even with regular walking breaks.
In cutting through, we were able to see the back of the zoo, and HRH was thrilled to see one of the bighorn sheep up on one of the rocks.
I was more excited to run into Danny Bent, one of the three founders of ORFB; he was waiting to help direct the second wave of runners who were coming in.
Naturally I snagged a selfie.
He's my new BFF, people. This man did not stop smiling the entire time (I'm assuming he's still smiling as he continues through the stages of ORFB) - his enthusiasm is contagious, and it was wonderful to be able to chat with him for a few minutes. I learned that his dad is one of the fastest speed walkers in the world, his marathon time only slightly more than my best half marathon time.
Cutting through didn't cut the route in half, though, and by the end, we'd walked and run 3.5 miles. with an average of 18 minutes per mile.
Her first 5K, plus a little more.
We got back as the rest of the pack, who had gone the entire 5-mile route, were starting to trickle in.
"Mom, did I win?"
I'd tried to explain that this event wasn't a race but rather a relay, kind of like the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse road rally episode (if you really want to torture yourself by watching it, it's on YouTube; basically, it's a scavenger hunt that everyone participates in as a "team," and only Pete doesn't get that it's not a race). But she knows that when I go to running events, they're races, so regardless of what I said, this was A Race, and she wanted to know if she'd won.
"Yes, baby, you won. You won because you didn't stop, even though I know you wanted to."
We did beat the baton back, so it was exciting to see that carried back in to hand off to the next leg, although we all got the chance to get our pictures taken with it. Apparently its name is Miles (I love it).
The greatest aspect of running with HRH in this event was that I could share my love of running with her while at the same time teach her the responsibility that we each have toward our fellow human beings. There are people in this world who are hate-filled and cruel, but their ability to promulgate their negative energy can be countered with each act of kindness that the rest of us can carry out. While understanding the larger impact of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is still far beyond HRH's scope, she knows that kindness is more important than any other trait, and so my heart is full knowing that Danny, Kate, and Jamie were able to give her yet another example of the ripple effect of one kind act. Thank you, guys, for what you have done for Boston, for the running community, and for my daughter.
To donate to the One Run for Boston, you can donate to the site itself here (click "donate"), or, if you're so inclined, you can make a donation on my page. To track the relay, you can follow the live map here. And, for those of you in more eastern states, check out the stages in your area that still may be open, or which, like Stage 52, are group stages.