I am running a 10K this weekend. Given that I awoke to a good three, maybe four inches of fresh snow, again, it is perhaps understandable that I am woefully unprepared for this thing. Hubby bravely kept me company during most of my run this weekend and had to endure me yelping at every mile, “GAH! Why am I so slow? Whyyyy?!”

You’d think you couldn’t run with your head in your hands, but you’d be wrong.

We ran (jogged…sauntered…ambled…) past Saturday’s starting line and I started making a verbal list of things I need to remember to bring when Hubby piped in;

“Don’t forget your cat-o-nine-tails so you can scourge yourself at every time check.”

Oh, HAR dee har, har. If he wasn’t in charge of carrying the water bottle I wouldn’t put up with these wisecracks, I tell you what.

Still, slow or no, it’s going to be good to be back in the company of runners. I’m kind of a lone wolf runner. I don’t train with anyone, don’t have any Facebook group or running message boards I contribute to, but after last week’s horror at the Boston Marathon, I have been hungrily searching for other runners as I run (jog…meander…) down the parkway near our home. Often times, as we passed, I would feel my eyes welling up, which is not the generally accepted greeting runners typically share. (Most common? The discreet head nod. Most awesome? Power fist salute.) The whole thing felt astonishingly personal.

And, yes, I joined in the whole slew of folks wearing their “finishers” shirts the next day, even though that is totally not like me at all. As a rule, I do not join in group displays. I don’t attend benefits, though I do send checks. You will never catch me watching a telethon– not even if it was for me, specifically, and the name of the damn thing was “Isn’t Lanie Awesome? Let Us Sing Her Praises and Send Her Boatloads of Cash.” (Though that is an excellent idea and someone should get on that immediately.)

I am deeply distrustful of mass displays. Where others see a heartwarming scene of like-minded people united in purpose, I cynically see a well-meaning puppet master emotionally manipulating the audience so that we all feel exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time. As much as I hate to admit it, Little Man is not the only one in our house who habitually mutters, “You are not the boss of me!” and digs in, against the common flow, just because, Dammit.

But then all the ridiculous news stories started coming out: “Is the future of the marathon in jeopardy?” “Should we cancel next year’s Boston marathon?” And I felt the tiniest urge to scream or punch someone.  Every time something like this happens we have to put up with this. Cower in your beds! Load up your handguns! Trust no one!

Oh, for Christ’s sake.

I stand firmly with Patton Oswalt and Mister Rogers and everyone else who believes that for every one terrible, evil act, a thousand kindnesses exist. How very different life would be if we could all just remember this. Because it is all kind of stacked against us, you know. You could stay locked in your house, clinging to the false hope of safety and there might be a fire, or a tornado, or you might get attacked by the raccoons that live in your roof. In every case, every last one, someone would come to help you.

Isn’t that a lovely thought? Don’t you feel better and somehow braver when you think about it? Someone always, always has your back and sure, it might be a slow-poke runner who is only grudgingly joining the group, but that’s still something.

I’ll tell you something else; next year is going to be a record year for marathons, you mark my words. Forget canceling, the marathon rosters are going to be full to bursting. I feel quite confident that this is one of those rare occurrences where “You are not the Boss of ME” becomes a group anthem. Finally! A group I might willingly join.

The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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