My daughter Bethany will be running her first half marathon Sunday morning. She and my husband Peter have logged many training miles together having discovered the perfect race in a running magazine. “The Flying Pig” half marathon – perfect for the girl born in the year of the pig.
The only thing we worried about was keeping both father and daughter injury-free. But as we watched news unfold about the April 15th Boston Marathon bombing I realized that the real world continues to change. She asked if we should be worried about her race, and I was as honest as I could be.
Yes and no.
No one here in America expects to be bombed, and while I am well aware shootings are part of the day-to-day in many places across the U.S., bombings are not. Despite the Oklahoma City Bombing, the World Trade Center and 9/11, we don’t really worry about bombs. So no, don’t worry, my darling. Chances are The Flying Pig run and runners will finish in safety.
But if I stop just for just a moment longer the shadow of a darker reality can’t be ignored. Race organizers have changed gear check procedures and reminded runners not to leave things along the race course. Periodic checks and sweeps of the course will be completed, and anything found unattended will be thrown out. Running in the real world will have to look a little different, just like the landscaping around buildings changed with the addition of large concrete barricades a la planters and architectural eye candy. Just like airport security changed. Just like checking in at the school changed.
The real world plays off of our fears while simultaneously tricking us into believing steel doors with lockdown systems at schools will keep the crazy gunman out or limiting liquids to 3 oz. in a quart-size plastic bag will keep the airplane from blowing up or the ugly concrete planters in front of the important buildings will keep bombs from driving through the building.
So yes, my darling, running in the real world means I worry a little bit, because I don’t believe having runners’ gear checked into clear bags is going to keep you safe. The real world will never keep you safe, but don’t let that stop you from running your heart out.