I always say that the morning of the Boston Marathon is like Christmas morning – so many people have been waiting for this day for so long and wake up with anticipation of what the day may hold. A year ago today, I woke up with that excitement. It was to be my first marathon back after my back injury, the first time I would get to take on Boston with a healthy body. I was excited and nervous – would I get that PR? Would my legs stay strong? Would I see Amy on the sidelines?
Never did I imagine what would happen at the end of the day. I knew my legs could lock up, I knew I could go out too fast and I could hit the wall. I never thought someone would inflict an act of terror onto a marathon.
Well. Okay. I’ve thought about it. I remember thinking that if someone wanted to cause mass panic, the end of the New York City Marathon, with all the people and long walk out of the Central Park – that would be a perfect spot. Call me crazy, but I’ve thought about these things. I just never thought they would actually happen. Why would anyone go after runners?
April 15, 2013 was one of the scariest days of my life. Sitting in a parking garage with Amy, having no idea what was going on, how long it was going to go on, who was doing this, who was hurt, if we were even safe – I have a hard time thinking about it. The week dragged on after that as the search went on. Amy was staying in Watertown and gave me reports of SWAT teams combing through the neighborhood. I was terrified for her all over again.
It’s amazing how just one day, one moment, can change a person’s life forever. Some people will never be the same physically, others will never be the same emotionally. But to hear stories about those affected and how they’ve overcome the challenges set before them, that’s the true strength of Boston and of the Boston Marathon.
I recently watched the National Geographic “Search for the Boston Bombers.” I didn’t know if I really wanted to, or if I even could. And honestly, I knew everything that happened already. But one thing that struck me was William Evans, a Boston police commander (now the police commissioner), and his running. He ran the marathon last year then responded to the bombings. During his retelling of that week in Boston included what any runner would tell you – he needed to run. In the face of everything that was going on in the city, a run is what helped him clear is mind and prepare to do more work.
I received a message this morning from one of the weekly run lists I’m on. The run was cancelled this morning due to the rain, and one of my first thoughts on seeing it was, “Runners don’t cancel!” We don’t cancel runs. We run. We run through the coldest of winters, we run through the hottest of summers. We run in the face of adversity, we run when people tell us we can’t. We run for the good days, we run for the bad days. When we don’t know what else to do, we run.
I have such mixed opinions about not going to Boston this year. (It’s also Easter weekend, so I couldn’t get off work.) Actually, I don’t have mixed opinions…I want to be there, and I’m so, so sad that I can’t be. A few weeks ago, I was up in Boston for a work conference, and I ran by the finish line. I’m excited for everyone running Boston this year, especially those affected by the attacks, for those who didn’t get to finish last year.
Last year I finished a post by saying:
The running community, the runner family, is a great one. I know we’ll run strong and that we won’t be deterred. Runners will still run Boston, and spectators will still cheer at Boston. As a runner, as a nurse, my heart breaks for those injured, for those killed from this event. An amazing event was ruined on Monday, but it will not be the end of it.
As runners, as spectators, as a running family, we are strong. We are strong in that final 0.2, and we will be after as well.
Boston 2013 is a year I will never forget. But Boston is for runners, and it always will be.
Because it’s true. Boston, its runners, its spectators, its people, is ready to show the world that runners will run, and that Boston is for runners. Runners will run Boston with a little more purpose in their stride this year, one that shows how strong a community we are, how we come together for one another, and how you can’t bring us down. Good luck runners – I can’t wait to cheer you on.