Theme Preview Rss

Boston: Survivors and Scarves

After the 5k, it was off to check in for the race. This part is non-eventful, so I will spare you the details, but what happened after was not.

Upon exiting the expo, we were back out on Boylston and the police had it blocked off. One of the police officers informed me that a number of the survivors were participating in the invitational mile (a race for the elites to see how fast they could run a mile). At the end, the survivors were walking. We were fortunate enough to see two groups of walkers walk the last bit of Boylston to the finish line. I can’t tell you how emotional this was for me. At first, I don’t think I thought too much of it, but as I watched them walk, I realized a few things.

The first thing that struck me was when the first group of walkers stopped. They stopped at the exact location on the route where the first bomb went off. They had a moment of silence, talked/prayed amongst themselves, and that it was then that I started to admire not just the physical strength of these people, but the emotional strength they had.

They were standing on the direct spot that, one year ago, changed their lives forever. 

 Their lives changed there from a physical standpoint and from an emotional one. I think our first reaction when seeing someone who is physically impaired is to think how that would affect us on a physical level. Makes sense, right? We think of the things we couldn’t do if we were, say, in a wheelchair, or we think about how we would button up a shirt is we only had one hand. But we don’t also think about the emotional side of it – and in this case, how they became physically impaired having such an emotional impact. That that emotional side may weigh on them just as much, if not more, than the physical aspect of their impairment.

I started to thank my stars for these survivors. For their strength. For their example to us. For their courage to return to and walk through the spot that had changed their lives forever.

Following that group, there was another survivor and companion. He, too, stopped at the spot of the bombing and then proceeded to the finish line.

This also seems obvious, but it struck me at that point – this man was crossing the area he had been forbidden to cross the year ago.

That the amount of emotional strength this man had to have to continue on in a spot that had been denied to him, with a direct attempt at taking his life the last time he was in this spot. And how he fought through and kept walking. For every step he took, a tear welled up behind my sunglasses until I started crying and had to look away.

THIS was what being at Boston was about this year for me. It was a race, but it was so much more than a race. Witnessing this kind of strength, bravery, courage and patriotism is something that does not happen always… and this was a place where it was happening with every turn of the corner. With every person that chose to be there that weekend. It was a choice. It was all a choice. And I was glad I made that choice.

So… if that wasn’t enough… we then found ourselves at the finish line. Sacred ground in my eyes. And, I am not sure if you noticed, but there is a very beautiful, old church that stands at the finish line – South Church. 

Outside of South Church there were loads of people handing out scarves, and I was given one.

I think this will be one of (if not THE) most treasured ‘souvenir’ of the trip. These scarves were handmade by people around the world who had knit them with thoughts of love and peace and prayed over them before sending them to Boston to be distributed to the runners.
A volunteer handing out scarves
Tag on the scarf
  Now, the city wasn’t just supporting the runners/cause/event, the US wasn’t just supporting it, but the world coming together to support it all as well. As I felt the need to come and run, these people felt the need to do the same in sending the scarves – their way of fighting terrorism.
Mine came from California

 I kept my scarf close and safe that weekend… and will always. It is a symbol of so much more for me and I am honored to wear it.

 The more I was there, the more I was realizing how much this town NEEDED this event. How THIS was the weekend that was going to help not only the city and its people, but the world. While this probably struck closer to home with certain demographics, we were all in this together.

How the whole world was rooting for the race to succeed and for the terrorists to fail. And that they would.

Boston: BAA 5K with besties

With Boston on my mind, I asked two of my girlfriends from high school, Allece and Jessie, to meet me out there. We have been friends for many years (obvi) and they have been along on my running journey with me. In fact, it was Jessie who got me to run my first marathon by simply saying “Hey, wanna go on vacation…and we’ll just run a marathon while we are there?” circa 2001. (…and you wonder how I get ‘suckered’ into doing so many things.) And Allece who who sherpa’d me around in Dallas when I qualified for the race. To me, there is not anyone else better to share this experience with than these ladies!
Jess and I running my first marathon - oy! how far we've come!
 We all got there Friday evening and Saturday morning it was the Boston 5k. What a perfect opportunity for us all to be together and “do Boston” I thought, so I talked them into it and signed us all up (months ago).

When we arrived at the Boston Common, and while there were bits of rememberance around, the mood here was light, fun and celebratory. Unlike the memorials I had seen on tv all week, this felt like the kick-off of the marathon events and somehow the somber mood I had observed the previous week had been lifted and replaced with this more optimistic and energetic one.
By the 5k start
In the starting chute, cozing up to a Boston flag!
 Now, due to long work hours (and just buying a new home) Allece hadn’t found time to train, so she insisted that she just support me and Jess while we ran the 5k…but Jess and I wouldn’t have it. We wanted to do this together, so we convinced Allece to join us and we would all walk it (peer pressure at its finest). But as we crossed the start line, Allece started running, so Jess and I ran alongside her. And BAM! Just like that – couch to 5k in 1 day for Allece. SO PROUD of her!

We had a great time as we ran down the streets, checked out Cheers and enjoyed the sights of the brownstones on Beacon Street. The cherry blossoms were in bloom – something none of us get living where we do (Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin) and just enjoyed the run! 
Running by South Church (non-Boylston side)
Running by brownstones and cherry blossoms!
We turned onto Hereford and there was the turn to Boylston—I got so excited. Sitting at the corner was a firetruck with a gorgeous flag and I was struck again how this perfect New England race was forever stronger because of the events of last year. I saw signs of support and pride along Boylston.
Turning onto Boylston
Signs on Boylston

And this is where we, as three, got to cross the marathon finish line!
Boston Strong
 From Boylston, it was back to the Boston Common, where the race ended.
Finish Line stretch
Jess and I stopped for a photo, Allece just kept running till the end!
Done = Winning!
And THIS was the kick-off to a weekend filled with  friendship, running, pride, patriotism and support - for us all!

Boston: Why I needed to be there

Where to begin? There seems like a lot to tell, well, simply because I haven’t been blogging in quite some time. But, we will stick to Boston, and how I got there.

I ran Boston first in 2012. It was the first time that I had qualified to run the marathon. It had been a life dream ever since I had started running marathons. OK, well maybe not at first. At first, it was probably, "I'll never get there, so why try?", but as the years passed and the marathons added up, the dream was built... and in 2011, I achieved it. I ran a marathon fast enough to qualify - so in 2012... I went!

 I brought the whole family along, thinking that I might never qualify, let alone be able to run it, again. That year it was a HOT race and while I didn’t have the best (running) time, I had the best experience! With family and friends around me, it couldn't be beat! (If you really are so inclined, you can read about it here.) Anyways, I was there, did that – and, even with my less-than-stellar race time, I didn’t have the need to go back.While Boston is an amazing race, it is far away, expensive, not a kid-friendly town, etc. etc. so I was over joyed to have that be my one Boston experience. One I would treasure forever (and still do). But I didn't have the need to go back.

Until last year.

After the bombing last year, even with no close friends in the race, I was deeply affected. I know part of it had to do with the fact that I had been there the year before. That I had spent so much time at the finish line, both before and during the race.
The kids racing to the finish the day before!

And that my family, my WHOLE family, had been at the finish line – directly across from where the 2nd bomb was placed – on race day. We were precisely 1 year and about 20 minutes off from being directly affected by the bomb. I can’t tellyou the number of times “what if it had been that year?” had gone through my head.
Vantage point of my family on race day
Just hanging out waiting for me at mile 26.
But then it turned into more than that. As the events unfolded, the feelings of resentment, the feeling of violation for what the terrorists had done, swelled. What they did to everyone, the people of Boston, our country, our community, the fear they installed, etc.

This is one of my favorite bits on Boston after the bombing.
To me, he exercises the use of humor with such a strong message that rings true that it really hits home. While Colbert talks about the people of Boston, it was more than that - it was the people of this country.

I couldn't put into words why I was feeling, and have continued to feel, the way I do but as one of my friends stated, "It was such a direct threat on my way of life." And it is true.

I needed to do something. And I realized what the terrorists wanted was us to lay down. To be afraid. To not come back. So... that was the one thing I could do, the one way I could ‘fight’ the terrorists is to go back. To not be afraid. To say you cannot take away MY freedom. It sounds so silly, but at the same time, it is what was ringing true through my body.

That (and a qualifying time achieved at the Dallas Marathon) is how I ended up here in Boston this year.

I didn’t do it because it is an awesome race. (Which it is.)
I didn't do it because I needed to redeem my time.
I didn't need it to "say" I did Boston.
I didn't do it because I thought I might never qualify again.

I did it because the terrorists didn't want me to.
I did it for the people who can't.
I did it for the people from Hopkington to Boston who line the race route every year. To give them someone to cheer for. To show them that we aren't running scared.
I did it to face fear - and show others how easy it is to do the same.
I did it to stand up for our freedom that we have as Americans. To not let that be taken away from us.

I often feel like I do very little for this country for what I get back.

For me, THIS was the one way I COULD give back.