I want to say that, in light of the one-year anniversary, I've been thinking about the marathon bombings. But the fact of the matter is, I think about that regardless of the day of the year. I doubt there has been a single day that has gone by where I didn't think about it in some form. When I run, there's at least one moment in every run where I think about running for Boston, running that marathon to show what this city is made of. There are days when I watch MMA and I remember that Suspect #1 was a Golden Gloves boxer at one of Boston's martial art gyms. There are days when I just wonder what would've happened if things had gone just a little bit differently.
But I noticed a change when the one-year anniversary grew nearer: while I was thinking about things with the same frequency, the intensity would heighten with each day -- to the point that I was in tears writing my "You Are Boston" essay.
You just can't explain it. You can't explain the array of complex emotions that such a situation creates for you. We all think we know what it's like to live through a terrorist attack. Most of us were old enough to remember how vulnerable and scared we felt during 9/11. But it's an entirely different matter when it's in your city, and on a street that you used to down countless times a day. The bombs went off on Boylston and they might as well had gone off at my childhood home.
And you forget how deeply it affects you until it is time to pause and reflect. You forget that it changed everything, from a city to an entire running community. And suddenly you remember that week in April, you remember vacillating between numbness and despair, you remember bursting into tears the first time you heard "Dirty Water" after the lockdown. You remember that you look at your city just a little differently now. That there's a clear line between life before the bombings and life after the bombings.
Next Monday is the 2014 Boston Marathon. There will be 5,000 more runners than last year, with twice as many bystanders and volunteers. And if that isn't a reminder of why we're "Boston strong", then I don't know what is.
And I know people get on that saying. They'll say it's clichéd and overused. They'll use it as fodder for their own sports rivalry agendas. But, really, there's nothing that can better describe this city. We're our own breed of strong. You can hurt us -- you can attack us and kick us when we're down -- but we'll come back. And we'll come back better, stronger -- and we will overcome. And we'll celebrate exactly as hard as we have suffered.
That attack took something very important away from us, and that's the sense of security when we go out and come together to run. And we'll keep running until we get it back.