- Posted March 11, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Run for Boston 2014
Fly for Boston
- Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer
I have never been a runner, nor will I ever be one. Not because I physically can’t, but because running has never really moved me in the way that it moves others. Maybe it’s a result of being pushed in the blazing heat by my middle school gym teacher to run laps around a field that seemed as endless as the Sahara desert, or maybe it just isn’t for me, but regardless, I’ve never liked it. What I do like is the irreplaceable feeling you get when you push yourself through something that feels like it might just make your heart beat right out of its chest like the bass from a speaker. Your body is moving, the sweat is pouring as each bead hits the floor beneath you, your mind and your feet are both on a mission- each doing their separate job yet working together to get where you want to be. This feeling sets me on fire and I wouldn’t let anyone put it out for the life of me. I get this feeling from
Last April 15th, 2013, I stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon waiting for friends to cross as I had done every year for as long as I could think back. At this point, almost a year from the anniversary of it all, I don’t have to explain what happened next, but I never got to see them cross. Instead, I got to run on autopilot, across the bridge to Cambridge, crying while continuously calling them on redial, wondering if they were dead or alive. I looked behind me as I ran, being shoved by complete strangers and comforted by others, for seconds that felt like hours I couldn’t locate three of my friends that I was with. For an otherwise optimistic person, the visions that came into my head of what had happened to them were a cross between the most gruesome trauma you could imagine and scene from a Steven King movie. The fear was irreplaceable until I found each and every person I loved who was there and realized that they were okay. The fear was gone until I realized that other people who were running beside me also loved the people who weren’t okay. Then the fear came back, along with the sympathy I felt for them, mixed with guilt for being spared from harm.
I didn’t step foot in the Back Bay until June, two full months later. All along I had wanted to see the memorial, the crowds, the beautiful displays of compassion left by strangers from around the world, but I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t even ride the MBTA for a month after. Nobody could be trusted. Sleep was interrupted by nightmares. The news became my enemy as I swear I would scream if I saw one more second of media coverage on the topic. The Back Bay had went from a place of entertainment and relaxation, my college stomping grounds, my favorite streets to walk down, to the last place in the city that I ever wanted to be. Even while celebrating a friend’s birthday this past winter at Forum, the restaurant where one of the bombs went off directly in front, I felt guilty. How could this be a place of celebration ever again?
Then, this past November, a friend took me to try a spin class at the new boutique indoor cycling studio in the Prudential Center called Flywheel. I was hesitant at first, resistant to change and new experiences, never really planning to get into it but instead just go through the motions to say I tried it. What happened next was the best out of body experience that my physical body was capable of. Flywheel is a place where you push the limits of what you think you can handle- mentally, physically, and emotionally. I felt embarrassed at times, tears rolling down my cheeks in the middle of a song that reminded me of how fortunate I am to have two legs and two feet that allow me to be on that bike. Thankfully it was dark enough that I’m sure nobody saw me. It didn’t matter. I hadn’t felt that type of gratitude in a long time and it was the type that I had only been thinking of since the events of the marathon. As I pedaled harder and faster I envisioned what would have happened if I had moved about 40 feet over from where I was standing at the finish line that day. I likely wouldn’t have had the ability to be on that bike right then and there. I saw my speed rise with each moment of appreciation. I felt my heart pump in a way that was more than just a cardiovascular workout, it was hitting my chest with each pedal stroke, reminding me that I was alive and well. I felt so damn lucky to be both of those things.
It isn’t just me either. The culture at Flywheel is that of deep appreciation for health and well being along with a strong connection for all things that symbolize strength. There have been numerous times that the instructors themselves have spoken about “being in the moment” and “thanking your body for bringing you to class,” feeling the pride that sometimes goes overlooked by healthy people in everyday life. I vowed to stop going through the motions, at Flywheel, and in every aspect of my life. When the lights hit and the Torque board comes on in class that shows your stats to the class and puts you in a ranking based on your performance, it isn’t about the motions, it’s about the emotions.
My life changed on April 15th, 2013. Never again will I be able to walk down Boylston Street and not think about what happened that day. Never again will I be able to look down at my own two feet and not imagine what life would be like without them. Never again will I take for granted my ability to hop on the bike at Flywheel (in almost addicted schedule of about six times a week) and literally fly until I think my legs are going to give out from under me. They won’t. In fact, each time I close my eyes and feel the music, the energy, and the gratitude I have for their strength, my body and my heart get a little bit stronger.
I fly for Boston.