Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston 2013 -- Experiences from afar

Boston Marathon Monday 2013 was one of the biggest emotional roller coasters of my recent memory. I got permission to stay home from work to watch the pros race the marathon, and I sat riveted to my computer (and cursing the terrible announcers) while Kara and Shalane ticked off the miles. I wanted Shalane to win (or at least place) SO badly. As I watched it slip away from her, I couldn’t help myself but start crying during her last few miles. She wanted it so badly. We all wanted it for her so badly. So many miles of training. So many miles of racing. The marathon is heart wrenching like that.

Watching Kara cross the finish line and immediately ask how Shalane did was one of the sweetest moments I have ever seen.

I felt totally drained by the time I finally headed into work. I even had to put on extra makeup to cover up my puffy eyes. 

Of course, that wouldn’t be the only crying I would do that day. After hearing about the events at the finish line, I was stunned and confused. After confirming the safety of all of my friends and Oiselle teammates, my initial panic subsided and was replaced by an intense sadness that was hard to express. The sadness included the sorrow I felt for the victims, but much of it was for the Boston Marathon's loss of innocence. Tarnished. It can never be run again without the memory of what happened this year. Never can they be separated. 

I struggled enormously during the week trying to talk to the non-runners around me.  I couldn’t figure out why I was so intensely sad. What I needed people around me to understand was something that the April Competitor Magazine article “Marathoning’s Historic Mecca, why the Boston Marathon is such a big deal” articulated perfectly (you should read the whole thing).

“Finishing the Boston Marathon is probably the athletic achievement of a lifetime for many people…Boston is still the race that people want to be sure to do at least once in their career.” 

I have had those feelings. I worked for years to qualify and run the race, and I felt like everyone around me wasn’t understanding the weight of the matter. Because Boston is so close to my heart and the heart of the running community, the bombings in Boston were the first time I felt like an act of mass violence or terrorism was extremely personal. MY sport, MY community, MY iconic race. I felt like a valuable personal possession had been snatched from me.

Until these feelings subside, I'm trying to focus on the positive things that have come from the tragedy, and the support of the running community has been amazing. 

 In Raleigh last weekend, the Boston memorial run brought out 3,000 runners. The police blocked the streets for us, and the fire department hung an enormous flag from a fire truck ladder over the street as a start/finish line. Many Boston Marathon shirts dotted the crowd, and it felt as though the community was healing and getting stronger. 

And now, wearing a Boston shirt no longer feels like boasting, but rather a sign of support and solidarity.

The Boston bombings damaged us temporarily, but like a muscle that is torn down during a hard workout, it repairs stronger and more resilient than before.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful post. Your analogy at the end is so true--and I think that sense of strength is already present. This year was my first Boston and I don't think I'll ever have a more special race shirt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!