Before this week, I planned for this post to be much different then it will be. This was my first Boston Marathon, and was to be the best day of my running life.
The day started off great. I arrived in Hopkinton very early, around 7am. Most of the runners were bussed in from Boston at 6 am. The waiting area at the starting line was like Woodstock. People everywhere, sleeping, sitting, resting. There was water, food, and of course, a lot of Porta Potties.
I put out a blanket and laid down to rest, got up to get in line to use a Porta Potty, then got some water, took off my warm up clothes, and gave them to the donation tent. I then headed for the starting line, getting a picture with the Boston Marathon back drop on the way and dropping off my check-in bag.
Getting to the starting line was much farther than I’d thought. I stopped at the Porta Potties one more time and got to my corral (wave 2, corral 2) just as it was starting the race. There were so many people, by the time I arrived at my starting corral, I had to run, as my start time was fast approaching.
For the first 10-15 miles it was like no other start of a marathon that I had run. First of all there were just so many people. Normally this congestion lasts about the first mile in other races. But in this race, it just went on and on. Then there was the people cheering you on. Every town that we passed, every single person in that town was at the street cheering you on. It was amazing.
We went through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and then entered Boston. I think it was in Framingham that I saw a large sign in front of a house that said “Short cut.” Wellesley was by far the loudest and craziest town. Wellesley is an all-girl college town, and they were all lined up for miles with signs, that said, “Kiss me,” “Marry me,” “I’m single, call me.” The one sign that made me laugh the most, “Smile if you’re not wearing any underwear.” It took everyone’s (well at least all the men’s) minds off of running for those few miles.
It was the biggest race of my life. I finished 3:19:55, a PR for me by 3 minutes. For the half hour that passed after I finished, it was a perfect day. I had just finished the Boston Marathon, ran my best race. Nothing could ruin that feeling. It was a great day!
Well I was wrong, I met with my wife after getting my medal and checked bag. We were walking to our car and we heard a loud “bang.” I turned and wondered what that was, first thinking it was just a garbage truck dropping the large container after picking up the trash. Then a second bang a few seconds later. I turned to look in the direction that I thought I heard it from, but did not see anything. In the next few minutes, the streets filled up with police, ambulance, fire trucks, and every other emergency vehicle heading in the direction of the noise. At that point we knew something was very wrong. We got to our car and turned on the radio to hear the horror. I went from having the best day of my life, to having the worst. It was like the dream turned into a nightmare in an instant.
After a few minutes of crazy traffic and more emergency vehicles passing us. We arrived at our hotel about 11 miles north of Boston and turned on the TV. Seeing the images and pain that was caused by the that evil started to sink in. My wife had been standing right at the site of the first explosion as I was finishing. Luckily I finished 29 minutes before the explosion and she left that area to go meet me at the end of the runners chute by the bag-check buses.
My wife’s first response was that this is my last marathon. “You’re done!” Honestly at that point I didn’t have any desire to run again. Racing seemed so insignificant.
I will honor/remember those killed or injured. Evil, and I can’t think of any other word to describe the things that caused this horror, will always be pushed back with good.
Today I plan my first recovery run since the race. That term recovery run, means more now than it ever has.
I don’t think we will ever understand the reason for such evil. But I know in my heart that good will rise above this evil and humanity will show that love and life is what matters the most.
I will never forget those who have been hurt from this evil. Every training run, and every race leading up to next year’s Boston Marathon, I will be thinking of them!