Injured, but ready with a plan. The weather was glorious- 40’s with temps heading into the 50’s- sun, dry pavement- I felt happy to be where I was. No matter what my performance, I earned my spot and I was thrilled to be running. I was wicked jealous of everyone whose training went well, who were fiddling with pace bands outlining speedy miles and PRs, those that were literally bursting with anticipation.
I was anxious about my leg. Be that as it may, I still took photos and hung around talking to strangers until it was time to line up with wave 2.
And then he meandered over to the corals and took a photo of mine!I got in my corral- everyone around me was running my goal marathon.. except me. And at that point I decided that comparison making would be OVER and I was just going to have a BLAST.
SO I DID. I ran the whole first mile before I calmed down and went back to my plan. It wasn’t long before I noticed a gentleman also walk-running- and being a social person I decided to go on over and introduce myself.
It turns out my new friend had run many, many Boston marathons- all as a qualified runner- except that this year he was dealing with his own challenges. Earlier in the year he had been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer- a shock, since as a runner he had been living a fairly healthy lifestyle (non-smoker, etc). Only a couple of months prior to the marathon he had one of his lungs removed. All of the sudden my stupid femur seemed totally insignificant. This guy was dealing with real problems. Life or death problems. And here he was, running with me.
I am so grateful to him for so many reasons- but one small reason is that since he had run the course SO MANY TIMES- he was a phenomenal steward. He knew what side of the road we should be on, where. Where the best crowd support would be. Where to do high fives. Where the photographers would be (SMILE!). Little tidbits about each mile. He kept a firm grip on the 2 mins, 1 min strategy. When either of us started to struggle or straggle, we encouraged each other but understood the limitations we were running under.
It was AMAZING. Mike got a great photo of us running up heartbreak hill!
Mile 23 of this race was when I started to really feel it. Because we were walk-running, I never felt the extreme muscle fatigue that I had during Disney- but at 23 miles I was sooooo ready to be done running. I had already run longer (time-wise) than I ever had before, and the finish could not come soon enough. My friend was struggling, too. He was having a bit of a tough time breathing well, and needed to slow down. He urged me to go forward and finish without him- but I wouldn’t allow it. We came so far together.
As we took the right on Hereford street I said to him- “we are running the rest of this thing”. I was feeling extremely emotional at this point- because I had no business running a marathon considering the training that I had put in- and here I was, about to FINISH the marathon. And in not to terrible a time, considering! (4ish hours!).
As I was passing the mile 26 marker we saw and heard the first bomb go off. Like a cannon it cracked into the air (and smelled like fireworks). I asked my friend what it was but he kept running forward- so I tentatively followed. I was thinking “that is not normal. something is not right). When the second bomb went off, 20 feet away or so, I stopped in my tracks.
It felt like forever. I stood there, watching dollar bills fly through the air, I could see nails flying over my head. It occurred to me that this was shrapnel, that I could get hit with this. I started walking away… and then it occurred to me that Mike was supposed to be at the finish line. I have never felt so panicked. I texted him “I’m OK, R U”. He responded “I’m fine, on the T see you in a sec”….
He didn’t know what had happened. He was on the T. I sent him a quick message- “2 bombs just went off at the finish line, walking towards the pru”- and from then on our text messages were garbled and only one here and there got through.
People were literally running in zig-zags, screaming… I felt helpless. I felt like I had no idea what to do. I felt like the best that I could do was grab a few college age kids that were bleeding and get them over to the nearest police/fire people. It became immediately clear that the police were clearing the area- I was told to move back, walk away, walk towards the bridge.
I kept updating mike as to where I was, not knowing if he had gotten my messages. I ended up in a Wendy’s. I was delirious from having just run a marathon and not having had any food or water.
We did eventually get hooked up again, and our friend Frank, who lives in Cambridge, Biked over to rescue us and took us back to his apartment- where he fed us and eventually brought us back home. (our car was parked under the Pru- so we couldn’t get it until the next day).
Bag pick up the following day.
So why am I running?
To take back this run. To finish what I started. Because what happened should never happen again. Because I am DAMN lucky to be able to. Because for many reasons last year’s marathon was not the run it should have been. I am running for every single person who saw what I saw. For every single person that got injured. For all of the spectators whose lives were changed forever.