A Thing I Can Do

2009.10.11 - Portland marathon, mile 17 About mile 17 of the 2009 Portland Marathon. After five marathons, this is still the best “running” shot I have. Photo via jby.

I first heard that something was up in Boston yesterday when I got off the treadmill at the campus gym and logged onto the exercise-tracking app Fitocracy to record the workout. Like any self-respecting tech startup in 2013, Fitocracy has a “social” component, and people were using its message board to ask each other what had happened.

When I got back to the office, I found out pretty quickly. Someone planted bombs at the finish line to the premier marathon in North America. As of right now, three people have died of injuries sustained in the blasts; more than 170 are injured. Many people have lost limbs—legs—to shrapnel. I’ve run five marathons myself, and pushed myself pretty damn hard to do it, and I can only dream of someday qualifying to run the 26.2-mile course that ends at that finish line.

And that’s really all I can say about it. Other people were actually there. I’m just another guy who runs, listening to special reports on the radio.

I’ve spent the time since I saw those first social network posts helping a friend celebrate the completion of her doctorate (with cake!), hacking away at two or three different projects I’m currently juggling, listening to the news without saying much, planning for a scientific conference, speculating angrily about the kind of person who’d bomb a marathon, receiving some good (but not yet blog-able) news, and trying to decide whether to write about any of this in a public way at all.

And I found out—via Twitter, of course—that runners all over the place are logging their runs, and dedicating them to Boston. There’s a hashtag: #RunForBoston. So I did that for my nine-mile Tuesday run, down one bank of the Mississippi River and back up the other in the still-too-rare sunlight of an April evening in Minnesota. Because it’s A Thing I Can Do.◼