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Story Photo: My next finish line, mom will be in the crowd for me, as always
My next finish line, mom will be in the crowd for me, as always

On my Monday afternoon run, I visualized the end of the New Jersey Marathon. It's an old runner's trick, one meant to help you prepare for the last hard miles of the race. I pictured myself running strong and tall, with solid legs, even cadence and perfect form, moving through the 15,000 people that line the last mile in Long Branch, a fraction of the 40,000 who will come to town for the weekend to support the runners in both the New Jersey Marathon and Long Branch Half.

In this picture, one person stood out from the crowd: my mother, camera slung around her neck and on her head, a turquoise hat with "COACH" embroidered across the front, something I had made for her because she comes to so many of my races.

When I finished that training run, before I could even take a swig of chocolate milk, my cell phone vibrated, another text message coming in on top of a dozen others, about what had just happened.

I knew a lot of people running the Boston Marathon on Monday: an editor who was one-tenth of a mile from the finish when the first bomb when off, a friend who was just about to have her medal draped around her neck. Runners, we're a big tribe. We all knew at least one person running that day.

But our numbers are dwarfed by how many people make up our support crews. About 8,500 people ran the Long Branch Half and New Jersey Marathon last year, and 40,000 came out to cheer them on.

That one thing, out of all the horrors of the Boston bombing, is what has struck hardest: The target of these bombs were spectators, the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and boyfriends and girlfriends and best friends who came out to stand around for hours just so they can see their loved ones for one moment, that they were the ones attacked.

Runners talk about the sacrifice involved in training for a marathon - of time, of sleep, of toenails - but our families make sacrifices too, whether it's taking over child care duties so a partner can get in that Sunday long run, or making sure that there's chocolate milk in the refrigerator when your daughter's coming over to run, as my mother did all summer.
On May 5, she'll drop me off at the starting line of the New Jersey Marathon. I'll see her again about four hours later, a standout in that bright turquoise hat, screaming for me to go Jen go. I know there will be a hitch in my heart, and that the images a bomb going off in a crowd of people, who on Monday were doing the exact same thing she's going to do, will play over top of the reality of what I'll see in front of me as I near the finish line.

But she'll be there. She always is. She's the reason I'll run hard toward that finish line. I can't picture it otherwise.

Follow @byJenAMiller on Twitter.

2013 Running Calendar

April 27: 4th annual "These Boobs are Made for Walkin'" Breast Cancer 4-mile Walk/Run, 10 a.m. Sign-in at 9 a.m. Rowan University Recreation Center. Centrasl & South Jersey affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Single pre-registration by April 5, $25. After that, $30. Team pre-registration $15 per person. After April 5, $20 per person.

April 27: Trails 5k in Tacony Creek Park and Community Day at Friends Hospital, 9 a.m. Registration begins at 8 at the start line on Friends Hospital Campus. The 5k will take place on the trails in the Tacony Creek Park. Runners: $20, walkers: Families of four or more: $50. Students: $10. The first 70 runners to register at a special $50 rate will receive an exclusive opportunity to purchase a bib for the 2013 Broad Street Run.

April 27: Apple Core 5K Challenge, USATF certified, benefits Orchard Friends School, 9 a.m., Riverton, along the scenic Delaware River.

April 27: 6k, at the Institute Woods, Princeton, N.J. Course is on natural surface maintained trails. Preregistration required, field limited to 150 runners.

April 28: Maccabi 5k, Council Rock South High School, 2002 Rock Way, Holland, Pa., 9:30 am

April 28: 5k charity run at the Philadelphia Zoo, 8:30 a.m., benefiting Orangutan Foundation International, or call 609-217-3608.

April 28: Meso no Mas 5k run/5k walk; West Chester. Register on site or at

May 5: 7th Annual Richard's River Run, 9 a.m. at Cooper River Pennsauken, NJ. Go4thegoal will host.

May 5: Long Branch Half Marathon, Long Branch, N.J.

May 5: Bucks County 10 Miler, Washington Crossing, Pa.

May 5: Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run, Philadelphia, Pa.

May 11: Rock N' Run 4 Kids, 5k & Kid's Fun Run. Coca-Cola Park, Allentown.

May 11: Elwyn 5K, on Elwyn's campus, outside of Media, PA. Cash prizes, fee: $25, 9 a.m. start. 610-891-2298.

May 11: 34th Annual Great Cape May Footrace, Beach & Stockton Ave, 8 a.m.
May 12: 23d Annual Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure, at Eakins Oval/Philadelphia Museum of Art. 5k, 8:15 a.m. Information and registration:

May 18: Fallen Heroes 5k Run and 1 mile family walk. Hibernia Park, Chester County.

June 2: Creek and Co-op 5k, at Prophecy Creek Park in Ambler, Pa. $30 registration includes T-shirt for first 200 participants. Proceeds benefit the Ambler Food Co-op and Prophecy Creek Preservation Fund. Pre-register at

June 8: Cape May Airport, N.J. Aviation Museum Runway 5k & 1 mile Fun Walk. Registration 7 a.m., race, 9 a.m. $25 before June 1. 609-886-8787,

June 9: 2013: 3d annual Haddon Glen 5K,

July 20-21: Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 Challenge, 8.4-mile loop starting at Lloyd Hall at 1 Boathouse Row. A 24-hour race.

Source: Health News , By Jen Miller, FOR THE INQUIRER

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