I posted on twitter that “The #Boston2013 marathon finish line doesn't belong to terrorists - it belongs to me, and to EVERYONE who considers themselves a runner.” A friend Jamoosh added that it also belongs to spectators – and I agree. I finished the race with 3:33 on the clock. Not my fastest race by any stretch. In fact, it was one of my slowest in recent memory. However, it is scary to think that if I were to run just 30 min slower I would have been right in the thick of the explosion that happened at 4:09 (2:50ish pm local time).
Fortunately, I was long gone by the time the bombs went off. The 4:09 was actually the 2nd or 3rd waive time – and the bombs were somewhere between 30 - 90 min after I had crossed the finish line. But, when it comes to bombs, 3 deaths, and ~175 injuries, minutes or hours doesn’t really seem to matter. What matters is that I was close. Too close for comfort.
There are better images, but most are more graphic
Seconds after the blast - the runner in Orange was 2nd in his Age group - 75-79
The Boston marathon wasn't just a race for me. It was THE race. The culmination of literally years worth of work and sacrifice. I gave up nights out with friends, countless hours of sleep, strained relationships with family members, and ultimately, I broke my own legs (via stress fracture) to get to the starting line. To think that someone tried to not only take that away from me - but harm the people who supported us runners makes me more angry than I can put to words.
As such, I'm very torn about my Boston Marathon experience. On the one hand, I put in the work and I got to run the race. It wasn't my best race, but it was fun and everything I hoped it would be. In spite of everything, the Boston Marathon was amazing. However, the race will forever be associated with bombs. No one will remember the gorgeous weather. No one will remember the screaming crowds. No one will remember the running. They will remember the bombs.
But, I got to finish. Sadly, there were 4700 who were stopped in their tracks. Many had no phones, no money, no hotel keys. Nothing. They were left to scramble to find their loved ones, to pull their lives back together.
Runners stopped at approx mile 25.5 on Commonwealth Ave
Most had no idea what was going on.....
And many had no way of communicating with THEIR spectators
On Wednesday morning, I decided to go visit the finish line. It was honestly something that I would have done either way. Had it been a "normal" race, I would have likely stopped traffic trying to get a picture of the finish line, maybe went for a quick jog up and down the sidewalk trying to relive some of the marathon finishing jubilation.
I refused to be afraid. I wouldn't let anyone take the finish away from me. The Boston marathon belongs to runners, belongs to spectators, belongs to everyone.
Of course, today was very different. There were police on every corner. There were satellite trucks beaming both stories of heroics and horror to every corner of the globe. As I was walking around thinking of the people still battling their own marathon of healing, I wore my marathon shirt and marathon jacket. So, as one of the few runners who were out and about at a pretty early hour, I was interviewed by a half dozen or so news outlets. Of course, they wanted to know what I was thinking (sad for the victims), if I was wearing my jacket as a sign of solidarity (I was), and if I would ever run the race again. My answer? I would run the race every single year if I was able.
What the last 4 days have taught me is that in spite of great tragedy, the race is quite simply the best that I have ran thus far.
The makeshift memorial two blocks past the finish line on Wednesday
I had walked past this exact place just 2 days before
Runners are amazing people. Many people have quipped that no one should mess with a group of people who get up early in the morning and run 26 miles for "fun". That kind of drive and resolve just doesn't exist on the road, it exists in the runners. Who, after finishing the marathon, literally didn't stop and ran an additional 2 miles to donate blood. It extends to the runners who helped pull burning and mangled bodies out of rubble. But most importantly, it exists in the selfless act of leaving what is a runner's most prized possession their finishers medal.
Someone left their finisher medal as a token of respect
The eerie silence of Boylston St on what would be a bustling business day
FBI agents doing a sweep of Boylston St
In what I feel has turned out to be a rather disjointed post (fitting for the disjointed day), I wanted to make a comment about spectators. The only difference between a run and a race is spectators. Runs have a starting line, a finishing line, and a overall time. But races have spectators. It is with spectators that our sport becomes a sport and not a hobby. There were ZERO 2013 Boston Marathon runners killed. There were, however 3 spectators who lost their lives. One of which was an 8 year old boy who was cheering for his dad who was running.
That Boston Marathon runner not only has to deal with the loss of his son, but has a daughter who lost a leg and a wife with massive head injuries. I quite literally am not sure that I would be able to go on with life if I knew that as a result of cheering for me people were harmed. If I take away anything from this tragedy it will be that.... That I will appreciate other runners, yes. But, I will appreciate ALL spectators for turning my hobby that I would do with no one watching into something that brings great pleasure and joy to all who watch it..... Something I'm certain the terrorist would not have wanted.