The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance

Running a marathon is a brave, ridiculous act of endurance and hope and derring-do and personal triumph.  It transcends politics. It transcends everything. It’s a big throng of people, tens of thousands of them, all nationalities and races and religions and colors and shapes and ages, shoulder to shoulder, striving together for the same thing, to the same end: to get to the finish line.

I ran the New York City marathon in 2002, after 9/11. All the past year, I’d felt sad, helpless, angry, horrified, devastated, shocked, all the things everyone else around me was feeling. Running the marathon went beyond the personal to the civic, communal, soulful.

While I was training, I raised money for an independently funded track program for inner-city kids, which let me feel I was helping someone, somehow; I needed that. On race day, after years of watching from the sidelines, it was a thrill to join the crowd pounding and sweating their way through all five boroughs.

A few miles from the finish line, I started crying: there I was, in Central Park, I’d made it. With less than two miles to go, I stopped running to hobble, wrung out and in pain. The runner next to me cheered me on. We’d been running side by side since the Bronx; I listened to him and ran the rest of the way. After I crossed the finish line, euphoric, I was grinning and high on endorphins and relief and pride, walking around with a space blanket over my shoulders, my legs shaking.

Who would bomb the finish line of a marathon? Why?

This morning, I poached some eggs and served them over spicy kidney beans with avocado alongside and Cholula chipotle hot sauce on top.  We couldn’t finish our breakfasts; this almost never happens.

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About Kate Christensen

eater, citizen, enthusiast, curmudgeon
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6 Responses to The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance

  1. john kruth says:

    beautiful (sad but beautiful) – right to the heart – shared…

  2. Thomcat says:

    thank you for this fine piece of writing; it made me experience my own repressed sadness about such a senseless event. And the title so captures the tone of the essay.

  3. Bette Hanauer says:

    Who would bomb a school full of little children? Life can be very tragic and so complicated. One incident after another. So sad.

  4. nicole says:

    Yes. Still shocked by what happened. Marathons are such a place of positive energy, love, support, happiness, triumph — it hurts even more that the race – and all associated with it – was targeted. And yet, we go on …

  5. Susan says:

    The absolutely beautifully amazing thing I’ve heard is that some runners finished the race and then ran 2 miles more to Mass General Hospital and donated blood. What gives me hope is that for every unhappy twisted person who sets off dreadful bombs there are tens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people who are brave and generous and loving. I’m holding onto that. I HAVE to hold onto that.

  6. Pingback: What We’re Reading | nostrovia!

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