I run. I don’t run very far, nor do I run very fast. And I try to run early in the morning before the sun comes up so it’s dark and no one can see me sweating and swearing and gasping for breath like there’s only two oxygen molecules left on the planet.
All of which is a long way of saying that I’m a runner, but I’m not a very good runner. A plodder might be more accurate. So doing something like running a marathon rests only on the outer limits of my imagination. Still, I admire those who are capable of accomplishing such a feat. It’s no small achievement.
I recently read an article by a writer who called himself a “runegade” because he jumped into the middle of the masses at the starting line of a marathon and took off running despite lacking the credentials or qualifications to be in the race. He just ran it because he wanted to and thought it wouldn’t be that difficult. Much to no one else’s surprise but his own, it actually proved to be very difficult.
Getting into a race such as the Boston Marathon is even more difficult. You have to qualify by proving that you finished a previous marathon within a certain time limit. The times vary by age group. For instance, someone age 50 would have to run a marathon in less than three and a half hours in order to qualify. That’s pretty speedy by my standards.
Still, 23,000 people not only qualified but actually ran in the marathon. I admire and maybe even envy those people. Which is why I have been following so closely every detail of the bombings and the hunt for the brothers Tsarnaev. Although I’m not the same class of runner, I feel a somewhat kindred spirit to anyone who laces on a pair of shoes and pounds the pavement.
It’s also why on Thursday I broke my mold and decided to run in broad daylight, within full view of a campus full of students, visitors and, gasp, television cameras.
In the current issue of Xavier magazine, we profiled Rabbi Abie Ingber, the director of the University’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement. In addition to recounting his remarkable life—which has included time at John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous Bed-In, audiences in front of various popes and countless trips to the White House—Ingber creates events on campus that force students out of their everyday college bubble and gives them a perspective on the larger issues of life.
When the bombings happened at the Boston Marathon, some of Ingber’s students approached him with an idea to stage a one-mile run to raise money for OneFundBoston.org, the non-profit organization that is raising money for those killed, maimed or hurt as a result of the bombings. Ingber has never said no to an idea. If a student has the motivation and enthusiasm to come to him with an idea, saying no would cause harm. That’s not in his genetics.
So he said yes. And when I heard about it, so did I. I got out there and huffed and puffed my way twice around a half-mile course. And I was not alone. There was a pilot from Delta who heard about the event on the news and wanted to run. There was a mother pushing a two-seat stroller. There was a woman whose grown children now live in Boston. There were several people who chose to walk the course wearing flip-flops. And there were students—a couple dozen students, in fact.
Before the run started, the crowd gathered around Ingber who sought to put the event into its proper perspective. And he did. “There isn’t a race in Cincinnati and a race in Boston,” he said. “There’s only one race—the human race. And we’re all in this together.”
Words to run by.