The half marathon went well. But before we get to the race report, a powerful scene from the road.
The most memorable stretch of the route is along Lake Washington Blvd. After winding through an industrial area and some neighborhoods, the course runs along the edge of the lake for 3+ miles, and it is one of the few stretches with regular spectators. The scenery is wonderful, and nothing helps you along like a cheering, smiling face. It is the part of the course that keeps us coming back.
But this year it was extra special. The sky was overcast, so there was a weight to the air. No sun sparkled off the water, so I found myself looking up rather than out. Trees line much of the boulevard, and I found myself drinking in the calm green that hovered overhead. The only time I get anything resembling a runner's high occurs in these kinds of moments. A tingling wave of warmth, connection and presence washes over me, and I am happy to be alive and outside.
After running along in my own little revery, I rounded the corner and saw something that grabbed my heart in an entirely different way.
Along the road were a series of pictures. They were of fallen soldiers. I had heard about the sponsoring group, "wear blue: run to remember" in a Seattle Times article the day before. The group was started by some Ft. Lewis wives who lost their husbands to the war. They have found running to be a powerful healing and coping device, and meet regularly to run together. The group has grown to 250, and many would run the race. They started as a group in corral 17 (to honor the 1-17th Infantry), and the names of 43 soldiers were read at the start line.
The group posted the images and names of the soldiers along the course at around mile 7. And just beyond the blue placards there were 43 full sized American flags with a black ribbon listing the soldier's name. It was an incredibly powerful moment for me, my friends and all of the other runners. I can't imagine what it was like when the family of the soldiers ran by.
As we ran by, many of us saluted the pictures and people, and at one point I reached out to touch one of the flags. The pain of running is nothing in comparison.
Check out their website, read about their mission, and see some incredible pictures from the race. www.wearblueruntoremember.org