Three years ago, I ran the Boston Marathon and it changed my life. Tonight, I write with a heavy heart as I watch a horrendous scene play over and over in the exact location that brought me immense joy just a few years ago.
Ever since I first visited Boston in 2004, I’ve considered the city one of my favorites in the world. Boston is the perfect combination of everything that I love – Baseball, colleges, running, its manageable size, one awesome sports culture, wonderful history, intriguing architecture and unique food. Many people have asked me over the years where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world. Besides my Iowa homeland, I’ve always said Boston since my very first visit.
To celebrate Marathon Monday, I worked from the new Dunkin’ Donuts in town, ordered the traditional Boston creme donut and proudly wore my 2010 Boston Marathon jacket. There’s a sense of pride each time I wear the jacket, and I’ve made it a point to wear it each Marathon Monday since 2010. Yes, I finished the Boston Marathon in 2010, but my experience was the start of so much more for me personally.
I ran the marathon as a charity runner for the Massachusetts Chapter of The ALS Association and proudly finished in the bottom 5 percentile. It was my first experience as a charity runner as I had to raise $5,000 to participate in the race. I fell in love with charity athletics that day.
It was also the first time that I experienced the joy of thanking donors publicly in front of landmarks. Journeying around town with Tillie and my sister Anne thanking those who had led me to the experience was remarkable. It is an approach that I’ve brought with me to all of my subsequent running journeys and this blog.
Most importantly, the Boston Marathon gave me an enhanced level of confidence and a new life philosophy that doing good work will lead you to life-changing opportunities.
It’s tough to put into words how I’ve felt today as I’ve watched everything unfold, so I wanted to just jot down a few thoughts that have crossed the brain.
I’ve recommended to hundreds of people that even if you do not have aspirations to run a marathon, simply being a spectator at one is an uplifting experience.
People that know me well know that I do not like crowds. However, I believe that many marathoners develop their goal to complete one after being a spectator. It’s always been my way of hoping that I can convince people to try it out. I don’t know if making this recommendation will ever feel right for me anymore.
Marathons are supposed to be a celebration of life
Marathoners celebrate life through their ability to complete 26.2 miles. Everything about the marathon experience is supposed to be joyous. It is the last place I would have ever expected something like this to happen.
I feel terrible for those who were not able to celebrate their moment
While I am obviously heartbroken for those who suffered great loss today, I also feel terrible for 10,000-15,000 who were not able to cross the finish line and feel the emotions that I experienced. The majority of those who did not finish today were either older runners or charity runners. I’m saddened that the good works that many of these people did were shadowed by fear and sorrow.
The timing of the moment
One of the first things that I did when I heard about the news was find the time on the clock. The clock showed 4:09. I quickly did the math to reference where I would have been on the course. With the delayed start, I would have been about 30 minutes back. I have no idea why this mattered to me to figure out.
I’ve been flipping around channels since late afternoon to see the variety of coverage about the incident. I ended up at CNN as President Obama addressed the nation. Immediately after his speech, Wolf Blitzer went into a diatribe about the political ramifications of Obama not mentioning “terror attack.” I don’t generally yell obscenities at the TV, but I was so appalled that the situation had already become so political. Really Wolfman, you couldn’t just give it a rest for one stinkin’ moment and focus on the families, spectators and runners affected? Pathetic. I know it’s your job, but seriously, be a human for one moment.
I wonder how the running community will be affected
I worry that popularity of large-scale running events will be negatively affected. While many will show their resiliency by continuing to participate, I can’t blame those who might be a little worried to show up. It was a very sad day for the running community.
Did you notice how many people ran to the situation to help?
It’s tough to know where I would have run to if I were in Boston. I don’t think that I would have had the courage to run to the middle of the situation to help. I’m not sure what adrenaline would have done. I felt a bit of comfort watching the coverage on TV as I noticed the amount of people who ran to help. In the midst of such a bad situation, the service of others shone through.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Tomorrow, I’ll go for a run.