An Ode to Running (my tribute to the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing…)

A Georgia Peach (by way of Jamaica) eating a Georgia Peach!

Me at the end of last year’s Peachtree Road Race…

Since the Boston Marathon bombing occurred on Monday, I’ve been trying to describe just what I feel…Obviously, the person or people who created these deadly bombs are more sinister than ordinary murderers. Not only did the perpetrators of this heinous crime want to kill people, these perpetrators wanted to instill lifelong fear which can be just as grievous as an instant murder…Even for those runners who did not lose their lives or family and friends or limbs in the bombing, they may be forced to grapple with fear for the rest of their lives…I hope that is not the case…

I came to love running as an adult which is absolutely hilarious considering my childhood. If there would have been middle school superlatives like there are in high school, I would have probably been voted “Most Likely to Be Watching ‘The Brady Bunch’ With a Bag of Chips Instead of Running.” I came in just about last in all of my physical fitness tests as a child. (Do they still have these tests?) And at Sandy Springs Middle School, not only did you have to participate in physical fitness tests, you had to run laps every spring as a part of the school’s running program. I.HATED.IT. Not only was I a little chubby, I was just about the slowest person in my P.E. class. It was so demoralizing to huff and puff as I made my way around that dusty field behind the school as I watched my friends nearly glide by.

In college, I was told that I would have to take one P.E. class in order to graduate. I was elated that I could enroll in the walking class. I was mortified when I discovered all of the walking classes were full, and I had to enroll in a running class. But looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The class was entitled “Fitness For Life,” and it was taught by this older white gentleman who was in great shape. I was so intimidated and for good reason. I was the slowest person in the class and since we had to run around the University of Georgia’s colossal campus, I sometimes got lost…In fact, sometimes my teacher had to run with me so I wouldn’t be completely alone so far in the back of the class. But by the end of the class, I could run at least four miles without stopping, and I lost 20 pounds! The teacher told us he wanted to inspire us to be fit for life. I don’t remember his name, and I’m not sure that I would recognize him if I saw him, but I if did see him, I would tell him I that I’m STILL running, I never regained those 20 pounds, and I’m committed to being fit for life.

Since I took that class, running has become one of the loves of my life. When I run, I feel free yet connected to all that God made around me. It’s like a miracle happens every time my legs carry me mile after mile. To celebrate 10 years of running, in 2004, I began training for a marathon. When I started training with a group, my longest distance was 6.2 miles as I started running the Peachtree Road Race in my ’20s. I wasn’t sure if I could do it…after all, I am still that chubby girl who prefers chips and television over physical exercise in my mind. But Saturday after Saturday, I met my training group, and we ran all over Atlanta through upscale neighborhoods in Dunwoody, around Stone Mountain to the hood in downtown. We started off running short distances and added mileage as we could. After a while, running 10 miles was a short distance! I’m still impressed! And as we added mileage, we would start earlier and earlier in the morning, sometimes running at 5 a.m. It was amazing to be running while it was still dark and to still be running by noon! I couldn’t believe that God allowed me to achieve this…What a gift!

In November 2004, I ran the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. It was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done…And to be completely honest, I was one of the slowest marathoners out there. In fact, by the time I finished, the finish line was packed up…But I don’t care. I DID IT! Even the homeless men on the street cheered me on as I made my way from Turner Stadium, past Piedmont Park, up to Lenox Mall, past Brookhaven and back….I have no desire to complete a marathon again. All of the training outside of the actual marathon takes more time than I have right now, but I still train with a running group every spring to prepare for the Peachtree Road Race…

As I reflect on the runners that were affected by the Boston Marathon, I just hope that they will continue to run in spite of whatever fear they may feel…I pray for the families who lost a loved one on Monday and for those who lost limbs…

Any thoughts?





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9 thoughts on “An Ode to Running (my tribute to the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing…)

  1. jackie,
    1. Thanks for this post. It has been amazing to see all the runners come together in solidarity!!!
    2. You were TINY in this pic!!!
    3. I HATE running 🙂 but LOVE to dance.
    4. Thanks for sharing your story … I think you follow my blog, but I posted smiliar commentary on my fitness/health journey. I always find it inspiring to read the stories/journeys of others.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Yes, it has been inspiring to see all of the runners refusing to be intimidated…maybe more cautious…but not stopped…I don’t like running for the first two minutes or so, but after I get warmed up, it’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE :)Yes, I do follow your blog, but post the link about your fitness health journey 🙂

  3. Thanks for posting this. I have never run a marathon, but running cross-country in high school changed my life. I was never physically gifted or especially coordinated, but here, finally, was an athletic activity where determination and willpower counted as much or more than natural ability! Running any type of race is a powerful celebration of both the individual human spirit and a large community. I know that runners will not be deterred by the tragic events of this past Monday.

  4. Hey, Jackie. I loved this post because I have been training since January to run a 5k and recently joined a Run For God group and it is truly awesome. I was saddened beyond belief last week and our group of about 100 dedicated last week’s run to the Boston victims.

    I will push through and do this with the Lord’s help. Journal entries are forthcoming on Books, Writing & Life. Thanks for posting your story. I was the last kid chosen in elementary school for sports too. (Now I feel like How you like me now?!?!) My race is on June 22.