Wardian, a six-time winner of the National Marathon, loves it more than most, and on Monday, he had run in his 10th Boston Marathon, and was already back at his hotel, showered and packed for the airport, when the explosions occurred. At first, he figured all the text messages asking whether he was okay were just well-intentioned friends who had seen his time and wondered why he had been so slow. (He was nursing an injury and, instead of competing, was running alongside a slower friend for the enjoyment of it.)
By Tuesday morning, Wardian was back in metropolitan Washington and was just another of the pavement-pounders, the dew-sweepers, the lunch-hour escapists and the hard-core roadrunners — just one of the thousands who daily take to the trails, the backroads and the oval tracks of the region to catch up with a friend or lose themselves in thought over a good, hard run.
“It was powerful,” Wardian said of his run Tuesday morning, which he made in his 2013 Boston Marathon T-shirt. “It was something a lot of people who were [in Boston] aren’t going to be able to do the same way as before, or at all. Running is something that for me has been life-altering. It’s something that allows me to clear my head — a safe place for me to go. And somebody tried to rob that. I don’t want that to be possible. I don’t want them to have that type of power over me.”
They were out there again on Tuesday — on the National Mall and Embassy Row, down the Capital Crescent Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath, along Beach Drive and the GW Parkway, on the high school tracks and neighborhood sidewalks, in packs of twos or threes, with baby strollers or dogs, or simply alone.
“There were plenty of people out there this morning,” said Helen Beven, a personal trainer and elite masters road-racer from Kensington who ran Tuesday morning in Rock Creek Park. On this day, the simple act of passing another runner on the trail took on new meaning, as if the two of you shared a secret knowledge. “You always tend to acknowledge other runners, but I think people were a little more aware of each other.”
One of Beven’s mottos, which she uses with all her clients, is: “Run happy.” But suddenly, it sounds like less of a hokey reminder than some distant goal, out there in the future. Maybe you can reach it again someday, but it won’t be easy and it won’t be soon. In the meantime: “You try and think of other things. You make the workout a little harder. You focus on your breathing. You try and be as normal as you can.”