‘I struggle with guilt at finishing’

Please take a moment and appreciate your legs and your loved ones. As I write this on Monday afternoon, I am thinking how this time last week I was in Boston running away from bombs.

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Laura Bergmann holds free running clinics the last Thursday of the month at Gold’s Gym in Charles Town.

Laura Bergmann holds free running
clinics the last Thursday of the month at Gold’s Gym in Charles Town.

Crazy world. Stupid terrorists.
It all started when I heard I’d qualified for Boston. (Funny how it’s called that. No one says “Boston Marathon,” just “Boston.”) I never dared to hope. After all, I’m not a runner. I was told I would never be a runner – bad knees and asthma – should just give up on the idea.
I hadn’t planned on ever running another marathon, but my time of 3:33 at the end of a very long triathlon season meant I’d gotten into Boston. Now my job was to accept that honor and make the most of the coveted spot in the most prestigious race in the country.
I trained hard all winter. I hate the cold, but I ran in sleet, snow, crosswinds, head winds, hail, below-freezing temps, up hills, down hills, through battlefields and on trails through multiple states.
Once I got to Boston, I felt excited. “What do you want to do first?” my friend, a Bostonian, asked. Eat, of course. Everywhere we went I was acknowledged as a runner. The title of “runner” in the Boston was revered and met with smiles, well wishes and complimentary desserts. Business owners and employees felt like they were contributing to something great by helping me anyway they could.
It was inspiring and touching and strengthened my commitment to do the very best I could to make everyone proud. The entire city respects the dedication, hard work and mental toughness it takes to do the marathon.
This also was evident by the 27 miles of thousands of screaming and cheering residents. At times, the crowd was so loud my ears were ringing. Their energy drove my legs forward, their cheers warmed my heart and their orange slices held out by tiny children’s hands fueled my soul.
“Keep going!” I reminded myself. “They’re rooting for you!”
For me, crossing the Boston’s finish line was more than the just an end to the two-year wait. It was the end of a 10-year struggle to become a runner.
I’m crying now because I am so angry that someone would target us. All of us spent four hours pushing the limits of human strength, finding the greatness deep inside, fulfilling life long hopes and dreams.
Those who didn’t get to finish because of the bombs were robbed of something few will ever understand. Those who were hurt or killed, my heart aches for them.
I struggle with guilt at finishing, guilt at passing those who would later be hurt. I wonder why I was spared. I have never taken any mile for granted and will continue to cherish the privilege every time. I hope others will realize as well that every step is a victory and every mile, every minute even, should be celebrated.
I did not complain that my legs hurt, not even on the three-mile walk to the hotel, not the day after, maybe not ever again. I am thankful I have a chance to run again and will never take that for granted.
Thanks to everyone who sent me messages of concern after they heard about the attack. I didn’t think anyone paid attention to my Facebook ramblings about my races.
— Laura Bergmann writes from Ranson[/cleeng_content]

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