I’ve never cried while running. Until today.
This morning, my husband and I attended a moving tribute the young woman slain while running on our local trails on New Year’s Eve. It was a Silent Mile, organized by a runner who did not know the victim but was touched by her death just as we all were in the local running community. I wasn’t planning on coming back to these trails again. But we decided it would be a good way to honor her memory.
When we drove through the park entrance, I began to cry. My stomach was in knots, knowing that this place – the park near my home, the place where my children play, where my dad bikes, and we run – was the site of a horrific murder.
The turnout was amazing – I would estimate at least 100 people. There were so many runners there, all with the same intention – to honor the life of Lauren Michelle Bump. Her dad and brother were there, as was their church pastor. They spoke a few words before we began, and their faith was obvious. I am not a religious person so it fascinates me how people of faith always seem to find comfort in the most horrible, hopeless times. They asked that this mile be a time to reflect, meditate, or pray.
The route was a 1/2 mile out and 1/2 back in. As we started at the trailhead, where I always start my runs, I realized I was seeing this place differently now. I started to cry again. I remembered all the times I had been on this stretch while night was falling – completely defenseless. What a fool I was. Never again.
I got to speak with her dad and brother briefly. I told them “I didn’t know Lauren, but running will never be the same for me – I will always keep her in my heart.” Her brother cried and hugged me. What an amazing opportunity we all had to show her family that we have them in our thoughts.
There has been an arrest made in her case and we will all continue to follow the case as closely as we can. In the meantime, I am going to a self-defense class for runners tonight at a local run shop, hoping to gain some valuable information on how to keep safe while enjoying running again.