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April 18, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Horror, and plenty of heroes, at the finish line

NEW CASTLE — Man, do I miss running.

All the miles.

All the smiles.

Even the personal time trials.

There’s nothing like lacing up the kicks, cranking up the music and losing yourself, stride by glorious stride, for the next hour or so.

Sweat pouring. Quads burning. Chest forward, heels up.

I’m grinning just thinking about it.

Oh, I still hit the road on occasion, but for a variety of reasons my workouts these days are confined to a climate-controlled gym or a treadmill.

It just isn’t the same.

Then I watched in horror Monday as the events unfolded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

And I missed running even more.

“The five S's of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.”  — Ken Doherty

Heroes.

That’s how I often described those who had run a marathon. I can’t even begin to imagine the energy, the will and determination it takes to trek 26.2 miles and break the tape.

I often joke that I once “finished” a marathon with my sister, Donna. Problem is, I never started it. I jumped in at the 20-mile mark and did my best to encourage her to complete her journey, prodding her with a string of show tunes, inspirational quotes and TV trivia from our childhood.

She crushed it, along with hundreds of others that day. And I was amazed.

As we milled around afterward, we witnessed competitors in agony. Dehydrated runners were hooked up to IVs. Others collapsed in exhaustion.

Believe it or not, those were the exception. We mostly saw pure, unadulterated joy.

Euphoria, even.

That’s why Monday’s scene in Boston was so heart-wrenching. Instead of a “bucket list” event that would blossom into a special memory for years to come, it quickly turned into a nightmare filled with screams, unspeakable injuries — and even death.

But in a weird way, it was much like any other marathon finish. We witnessed pain. We cringed as competitors collapsed. We observed others receiving medical attention.

And, yes, we teared up as heroes crossed the finish line.

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