At one point during last week’s extensive news coverage of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, my boyfriend, Bryan, asked me what it felt like to run a marathon.
“It’s awesome,” I responded quickly.
“It’s hard for me to imagine running 26.2 miles when I don’t think I’ve ever run more than 2.6,” He replied jokingly.
As I thought more about the question, I realized it’s rather funny my first response wasn’t “it’s absolute hell” when it very well should be. In reality, the human body isn’t designed to run that far at one time. So, what is it about this race that makes it so great?
As I watched more of the story develop in Boston, it hit me. It’s the moment. It’s the moment of crossing the finish line that makes it so great.
It’s knowing your commitment, training and strength helped you endure such a difficult challenge. It’s knowing you survived a race designed to push you beyond your personal limitations. It made you question yourself. Sweat, pain and tears yielded a moment of joy, satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment so powerful it overshadows your body quietly cursing you out in the form of dehydration cramps and sore muscles for putting it through so much agony.
Shut up, you tell it. You’re enjoying your moment. How you feel in this moment will stay with you for the rest of your life. Your life is now changed because of this moment.
Last week, 27,000 runners didn’t get the opportunity bask in the euphoric moment I described above. Instead, dozens left with the help of medical personnel, a few without the loved ones that came to cheer them on as they experienced their special moment, and thousands of “lucky” ones were able to walk away from the scene.
Regardless of how you spin it, everyone left the race either emotionally or physically scarred for life. That day, that race, that moment changed their lives forever. It’s not fair. But life’s not fair. It will never be fair.
It’s unfortunate but it seems as though it’s always the most horrific tragedies that bring on an overwhelming sensation of being alive. You feel for the victims, their families and all involved. You genuinely want to see the bad guys get caught. You hope peace is restored, and justice is served.
Many people live with the notion that you only live once (YOLO, if you will), but the fact is that we live every single day; we only die once. When we’re caught up in the shuffle of our everyday lives it’s easy to forget we’re living – until a bomb goes off. Literally or figuratively – a moment wakes us from our daily trance.
Now, while I’m admittedly a health nut and avid runner and would love everyone to get out and run, I’m not saying running a marathon is the only way to feel alive. There are plenty of other ways, but it’s up to you to determine them. My point is for you to get the heck out of cruise control and enjoy where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing every single day. Moments are all around you; just don’t wait for a bomb to go off to feel them.