This post has absolutely nothing to do with running or diabetes. I was looking forward to writing a piece on the 2013 Boston Marathon. I probably never will.
April 15th 2013 will be a day I and many many others never forget. I ran the marathon and an hour or so later, felt like I ran another one. Like so many others, I am lucky and grateful to be home in one piece. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and injured and their families who were enjoying the day cheering on loved ones along Boylston Street.
The bombings on the famous homestretch, killed 3, injured almost 200 hundred and pissed off everyone else. The bombings were completely senseless. They were not done because they hate runners or their families and friends, this could have happened anywhere at anytime. They were done to destroy us both physically and mentally, they were done to crush our souls and our spirit. Wrong crowd.
These people will be caught and will be fully punished. History tells us this. These people are always caught and always punished for their inhumane acts of violence. Here’s the story through my eyes.
2pm; I was waiting on the corner of Boylston and Arlington, a popular meet up spot at the SW corner of Boston Common, waiting for my good friend Gary to meet me. 5 minutes became 20, 20 became 30. I grew impatient waiting. My body ached, I was upset with my run, I was down. In that time frame, I had decided that even though my race did not go well, I was too overjoyed by the experience of the Boston Marathon. This event is magical, the most historical marathon which you have to qualifier to run in. I wanted to buy the famous official Boston Marathon jacket.
I started walking towards the finish line, trying to get to Marathon Sports. I got one or two blocks before crowds and fencing made it hard to figure out how I was going to get there. Then Gary called. He was almost at the meeting spot. I paused. I was almost there but now he was ready to meet me. I u-turned and went back to my spot on the corner of the Common.
I sat down among fellow exhausted runners and waited patiently again. Everything was peaceful until a thud. It sounded like ground breaking demolition, the kind you hear all over New York. Then, a second one.
A woman said “that doesn’t sound good”. “Nope” I replied. Silence. I was convinced it was construction. But that made no sense, this was Patriots Day, no one does that kind of work on Patriot’s Day.
Within minutes, street police were moving the traffic in front of me with more urgency and people on the streets were walking faster, most into the Common away from the finishers baggage area. The atmosphere had shifted. I heard sirens. Then saw fire engines, ambulances, police and undercover cars whiz past trying to get to a location somewhere near the finish area. A fire? A collapsed building? Worse than that?
Then, someone said it, the word “bomb”. I jumped up, my body sank like never before in my life. My girlfriend. She was pacing a friend to a sub-4 marathon at that time. I just wasn’t sure exactly where she was. With my 1% battery life left, I called her. She picked up super cheery as normal for her. I screamed something along the lines of “get here now” in complete panic.
Somehow, within minutes, she was with me. Then Gary was too. I explained the noises I had heard and the rumors as more emergency vehicles roared past us. Neither believed. Neither wanted to believe. I didn’t want to believe. Now, I started to feel stupid for saying it.
My phone now dead left Tiffany and Gary in charge of scrolling the news. Nothing at first, refresh, nothing. Gary called his brother and sunk to his knees. Then all three of us knew, it was true.
We hugged and walked away. We avoided the T trains like the plague. The London bombings (although not there, have left their mark in my brain). We walked away from the finish.
We passed a restaurant. I froze. For the first time, I saw an image on the TV of the first explosion right beside the finish line. Then, it became real.
Hours upon hours of calling family and letting friends know we were safe followed. Thankfully, all of our friends were OK but we knew many others were not as lucky.
Some people visibly shaken, others oblivious to the events. The city was on lock-down, the marathon was on no one’s minds. The thought of when the next one and where would go off was frightening. As we now know, that never happened. We met our other relieved and drained friends and figured out how to get home. We all knew this day would be with us forever for all the wrong reasons.
In the following few days, I have struggled emotionally with this heartbreaking tragedy. I have a very small sense of what survivor guilt feels like. That 8-year old boy, Martin should not be gone. He was there to cheer on his Dad and I’m pretty sure one day, he would have run Boston himself. People are waking up with a leg or two. No one should be gone, no one should be injured.
My perspective on running has changed slightly. Running is simply play, it is no more. It is still a way to express ourselves. An art form to some, a science to others. People run for others, for themselves, for charities, for health, for depression, for happiness. This will not change because of this, only add to it. The people behind this attack on our running community did not think about this. Our weapons are our hearts, something clearly lacking from them.
The Boston marathon will rise again, I have no doubt. Boston 2014 will be more emotional than ever. We can choose to hide from the people hiding or stand strong, be Boston strong and make a statement back. See most of you in Boston 2014. In the mean time, #runforboston #prayforboston.