Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombs - My Thoughts

Normally my blog is a pretty irreverent view at...everything. Tomorrow that will continue. But today, I want to touch on the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

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.

40 comments:

Crystal said...

Adam, thanks for this heartfelt post. I'm sending you a big ol' virtual midwest hug.

It's hard to not think of the 'what ifs' ...believe me.

We will keep running. We will stand in solidarity. We won't let anyone steal our spirit.

It was wonderful to see you once again. It's funny how you can live a nation apart from so many and yet feel completely connected. I look forward to bumping into you again in the future at more races.

Indigo said...

Awesome post Adam, not disjointed at all. You rock! Spectators are what make a run a race and I know that when I'm racing I scan the crowds to look for familiar faces.

Runners Fuel said...

Great post Adam!

Nelly said...

great post, and totally true about the spectators. Without spectators and supporters, most races really wouldn't exist - they would simply be regular training runs. And supporters help get athletes to the start and finish line.

And that is a selfless act for someone to put their finisher medal on that fence, people work so hard for that medal.

Zaneta said...

Such a horrible experience for those who were there... I was not but I still feel like whoever did it messed with me too... we are all a part of a great community and when someone messes with 27,000 of us... they mess with all of us!
I'm so glad you finished way before then and are ok!!

Mark Matthews said...

Good stuff, well put, thanks for your perspective.

Crystal said...

This is a great post. I hadn't seen any of the photos or videos of the memorial and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

Ivayla Wadsworth said...

Thank you for this very honest post!

Thomas said...

Nice post. I've always hoped, one day, to maybe be able to qualify for Boston. This event just sharpened my resolve. I WILL get there.

Missy said...

Great heartwarming post.
I heart spectators, they make me run faster ;-)
With out the love and support of my biggest fan and best spectator I would be able to accomplish all I do. It hurts to think they could be injured rallying for me.
Thanks for a great post Adam! Well done!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Thank you for posting Adam. Congrats again. Lot's of far away hugs.

B.o.B. said...

Agree with you on all counts. Proud of you for heading back out there. That certainly couldn't have been easy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Luis Fernando Oliveira said...

Disjointed my ass. Awesome post, one of the best you've ever committed and about this mess. Thanks.

Jen said...

Thank you, Adam.

TriMOEngr said...

Thank you for sharing. So pleased you and yours are safe though I'm sure changed for the experience. Looking forward to hearing more about the actual race.

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for this perspective. And that is so true about the spectators. They are what make it happen for us so many times. I have to say, I hear runners nationwide saying "Aw, hell to the nah, this won't stop me. I'll run, run, run..." But the few spectators from the marathon I've seen interviewed have said, "I'm... not so sure I'll be here." And that is heartbreaking. Because, like you said, no runners lost their lives. But people who came to clap and cheer did. And some people will be weighing whether it's worth risking your life to go cheer for a runner. And I, like you, am royally ticked that evil has taken that from us.

Pam said...

No words. Just <3.

Trent (Scott) Lorcher said...

Adam, that's probably the best thing I've read from a runner's perspective this week. I think spectators symbolize those who support us in our achievements, without whom we'd be running alone in life. I'm more determined now than ever to qualify for the best running event in the world.

Amy said...

You make PAC proud, Adam. Congrats to you, and thank you so much for your positive, enlightening perspective.

Sybil Runs Things said...

This is really beautiful Adam.

TiGi said...

Well said <3

Sue's Ramblings said...

Thank you Adam for this post.

Jamoosh said...

Disjointed, but well put. At the end of the day your Boston experience will be different than those in years past, but you got the experience.

Running Through Phoenix said...

Yep!

Kelly said...

Great post!

Autumn in July said...

Beautifully written. Gave me chills!

Kelly @ Running Kellometers said...

Thanks for this great post.

TriGirl said...

Really really good post. You just never think about this sort of thing; when I've spectated races thoughts of my own safety have only extended as far as "Where can I cross the course without getting in someone's way?"
I've always considered the spectators such a huge motivation during a race; now I will be even more grateful for their presence.

Steph @ Steph Runs On said...

Very well said, Adam.

Justin said...

Great post Adam! Do you feel the urge to do it again? Either because it was so awesome, or because you still want to have the full "normal" Boston Marathon experience?

I plan to be there next year (if I can get in with a 3:03). Who knows if they'll do anything for those who didn't get to finish.

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Beautifully written Adam and yes, you brought tears to my eyes once again.

And to the one who left that finisher's medal....what a beautiful gesture.

Hugs!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Glad you are okay and can find positive after such a horrible event. I can't imagine how that runner/father/husband feels.

Running On Candy said...

A woman in one of my FB groups posted this:

The bombing at the Boston Marathon has been devastating and shocking. A tragedy ending a beautiful day. My family and I were watching the marathon for the first time near the 13 mile mark in Wellesley Square, and I wanted to share what I saw while watching the marathon.

I saw crowds cheering at the first sighting of each wheelchair racer
I saw the elite female runners graceful and focused
I saw the elite male runners flying by at an incredible pace
I saw children giving high fives to runners bringing a smile to the runners' faces
I saw an autistic runner with a guide running next to him on each side
I saw spectators handing out orange slices and popsicles to grateful runners
I saw countless charity runners
I saw the crowd go crazy cheering for runners with amputated limbs
I saw men running in fairy, tiger, hamburger, and chicken (!?) costumes
I saw Team Hoyt inspiring the crowd
I saw thousands of people of all ages and nationalities running with grit and determination
And I saw hundreds of people crowded into a suburban block cheering for hours for runners they did not know
This is the human spirit that I saw yesterday -- I will remember these smiling faces and cheering spectators.


She also posted a picture that is awesome if you want to check it out it is here....

https://www.facebook.com/RunningOnCandy

Brittany Chapin said...

Awesome post & I love all the pics. What a tragedy this has been. I do like reading everyone's view of their day there though.

ajh said...

Thanks for some thoughts from someone who was there. I too wonder how that father will deal with all that has happened to his family. How horrific a day it was for so many people.

Jose said...

You got to experience the awesomeness that is crossing the finish line at Boston. 5000 of us didn't. And a few of us, including myself, experienced the horror of that days event. You were close, but you weren't there.

I almost lost my family and I never experienced crossing the finish line. I feel lucky that they made it out safe, but feel cheated of a long life dream.

Consider yourself lucky and blessed that you accomplished finishing Boston and did not have to witness the horror of that day.

Kerrie T. said...

Thank you for sharing. Brought tears to my eyes.

Mike said...

I was thinking about you and my other blogger and twitter friends last last week. Once I learned you were all safe I was thinking what a surreal experience you all were going through. While the terrorists took away from your experience of the day, I'm sure it will make you all even more proud to be runners and BQers for the rest of your lives.

Lots of heroes emerged too. Besides the guy on the ground that got up and finished the race, look at all the police that ran too the explosion and the look of determination on their faces that they are going to protect people. Amazing.

Ace said...

Thanks for sharing Adam.

itsallrelative said...

Thanks for sharing. My daughters and I were at mile 25 (we yelled for you- but since we've never met, you looked around in bewilderment and kept running...BTW - you're much taller than you appear in your blog...maybe like the camera adds 10 pounds, it also subtracts height?). We were fine, just slightly inconvenienced trying to get to the nearest T stop that could get us back to our hotel.

I really just don't want the acts of a few individuals to drown out the accomplishments of all the runners. Come back, run the race again, enjoy the spectators because even this act will not stop me and my daughters from going again next year. It is a truly life-affirming event.