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Runner Resilience after The Boston Marathon

“The Wednesday after the attack, I spotted these sunflowers. They looked so vibrant and full of life, I had to stop to take a photo.” - Jessie Sebor.

“The Wednesday after the attack, I spotted these sunflowers. They looked so vibrant and full of life, I had to stop to take a photo.” – Jessie Sebor.

I am writing this note six days after the saddest day in the history of our sport. On April 15, I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon, thrilled and exhausted by the race. My plan had been to wait at the finish to cheer for my Women’s Running colleagues who were also racing, but my tired legs begged me to return to my hotel.

Sixty-eight minutes later, I was alone in my room when two booms erupted. Fireworks? I thought. Thunder? Later, I turned on the television to discover, along with the rest of the world, that two bombs had exploded, killing three and injuring nearly 200 innocent people. The next few hours were spent frantically trying to locate my coworkers (all safe), the following days, trying futilely to make sense of the disaster.

My heart breaks for the sport I cherish, for the state I grew up in, for the spectators at the finish whose only goal was to support their friends and family. But if there’s something (anything) positive that can come out of this senseless tragedy, it’s that it renews our gratitude for the people and things we love.

In the week following the tragic events, one bright memory shined brightly through my clouded consciousness. I remember the first half marathon I ever ran, nearly 10 years ago, in Staten Island. I took the ferry over from Manhattan on a cold New York day, nervous to run the race solo in a borough I’d never been to before. All of my fears dissipated when the course veered through a dark tunnel and dozens of runners let out whoops, yelps and cheers. Immediately, I felt less alone. The runners around me were strangers, but they were my people. The pure delight of that moment has stuck with me for nearly a decade.

The day after the attack, I was filled with anger. Running is innocently joyful, and I was furious that this purity had been tainted. But that feeling soon changed when I went out on the streets that Wednesday to connect with my fellow runners and see how they were faring. Everyone was deeply sad and shaken, but another emotion was present: resilience. Of the dozens of runners I spoke with following the race, how many said that the tragedy would keep them from running Boston again? None.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be at the start line in Hopkinton next year, shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of others runners ready to show our solidarity.

I know that not all of you will be able to make it there with me, but I encourage you to do something that tests your courage. Whatever your goals are, I hope that all of your races are filled with cheers of encouragement and whoops of joy.

—Jessica Sebor

Editor in Chief
Women’s Running Magazine

How will you test yourself this year? Leave a comment here or tweet me @JessieSebor!