Marathon Steps

Today marks the 119th running of the Boston Marathon, the most-viewed sporting event in the city I’m proud to call my hometown. From the moment that starter pistol sounds to the moment they cross the finish line, thousands of entrants are focusing on pushing themselves perhaps like they never have before. Though it’s rainy, those thousands of people will be showing the world—and themselves—what it means to endure.

I can’t imagine ever completing such a mind-boggling distance. Granted, I’ve never trained for it, and I’m not in any kind of physical shape or well-trained enough to run in a marathon (or even a 5-K race), so I have the utmost respect for everyone who can and does or even tries. Though not a physical activity by any means, I’ve been asked how I can write a novel as long as 75,000 words. I’ve done my training and practice for that, and I continued through to the end of the story, so I suppose many of us find and complete our own tests of endurance. No matter how many plot steps I took, they’re nothing compared to the actual steps being taken by today’s runners.

I grew up, like many kids in Massachusetts, with this day (and week) off from school. It’s Patriots’ Day in my home state, the day to commemorate the start of the American Revolution, 240 years ago. For eight years, those patriots battled for independence and were oftentimes on the brink of defeat. Think about the difficult steps along the way: The Battle of Bunker Hill and the winter at Valley Forge. But they endured and ultimately prevailed. The American colonists showed the world what they were made of, all the way to the finish line from that first shot heard round the world.

The world knows that the Boston Marathon has taken on new weight these past few years, but the event has endured through the tragedy of 2013. Due to what can only be called cosmic timing, the surviving perpetrator of that event was recently found guilty of all charges. It seems that justice will be served. The verdict may be one more step—perhaps a small one, a big one, or one going up Heartbreak Hill—toward healing for the victims and their families, but it’s just one step of many.

If you haven’t already done so today, please take a moment of silence for those victims and their families. Two years later may be a few steps forward in life for the survivors, but it cannot replace their losses. Though the human spirit endures, they can only do it one step at a time—even with the support of families, friends, and complete strangers in this gloriously strong city.

One step at a time. Because their journey is still a marathon.

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