In the nine months I've been a runner, my experience of the running community has been one of overwhelming love, support, encouragement, and celebration.
Runners love what they do. They love seeing other people (even slow people who may need to lose 100 pounds) getting out there to do it, too.
People in this community have cheered me on as I triumphantly crossed a 5k finish line they could have reached twice in the time it took me to run it once.
I've read stories about runners, whose race was cancelled, using their time instead to take needed supplies to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
And of a father who won a marathon while pushing his daughter in a stroller because he wanted to make great memories with her before he dies of brain cancer.
I've watched nonagenarians competing in the 100-meter dash with crowds cheering their every step.
And Rita Jeptoo run to her second Boston Marathon win.
These people know something important. They know that running changes people's lives. They know the power of finding something you love and passionately pursuing it through both triumph and pain.
Most of the people running in today's Boston Marathon had to work their tails off to even make it to the starting line. It's no small task to get the qualifying times for a chance to register. They toiled through months of grueling workouts (more or less happily) just for the possibility of making it to Boston. Today's race was to be the victory lap after all the sacrifice.
Now, for many, the finish line celebration has been cut short or didn't take place at all.
But, do you know what I've seen through all of this?
I've seen reports of runners continuing past the 26.2 grueling miles they'd already completed on their way to the hospital to donate blood.
I've read about a perfect stranger giving a runner a shoulder to cry on and money to get back to her hotel safely.
And, all over Facebook and Twitter, runners are rallying around the city of Boston and the marathoners as if they were family.
Because they are. I only married in recently but I can tell you this is one tightly knit clan. You can't knock runners down without expecting them to pick one another back up and continue on their path, even if through curtains of tears, knowing they are that much stronger for the experience.
A quote posted on Facebook sums up my feelings well: "I am a runner. I may not have qualified this year. I may have qualified and not run. I may have been injured and unable to go. I may never even be able to qualify. But I am a runner and my heart is in Boston today."
We're runners. We'll run to process this event. We'll honor the people killed and injured today by staying on our feet. And we'll keep moving down the road because that's what we do