Archive for April, 2013

Massachusetts

Before I do start please let me say what happened that day in Boston is a complete tragedy and my heart truly does go out to the victims. Most of them were there to cheer on family and friends and certainly did not deserve any part of this. I did not feel joy or recompense at the capture of the last suspect and unfortunately feel that the anytime something like this does happen the loss of our personal security as we move forward can be a casualty as well. Who does not miss flying before 9/11? Sigh. My greatest hope is that we move forward without doing anything. We can never truly anticipate what people like this will do or when. By reacting we only lose our personal freedoms.

Last February I qualified for the Boston marathon and it was a joyous event. As I am trying to conquer all 50 states, needless to say this was THE one I really wanted to run. I did not go the usual route of training with long runs on the weekends or speedwork in preparation, instead I ran a lot of marathons to lead up to it figuring the best preparation for a marathon was another marathon. And eventually in December I was injured and became a wobbly runner who basically did not like to use my left leg. Like my cousin told me, “who needs two legs to run?”

So when Boston came I was not at my best needless to say. However there was no way I was going to skip out on it (the entry fee alone is $150!) so I flew in Friday night and really it was just fantastic starting at the airport. Just sitting there a lady turned around and asked me if I was running Boston! Turns out it was Patty (local Fort Dodge runner) who is good friends with my aunt and we had a great time talking and making our way to Boston. She got me a ride back from the airport and we went out for dinner. The entire thing was starting to feel like a big running family!

The next day the expo was large and awesome and crowded and freebies and incredible vendors and SO MANY PEOPLE! I went with a runner from Florida named Steve who I met in Duluth. We ran into several other runners we knew and Steve was even able to let a friend of mine run under his friend’s number who could not make it. My buddy Steve invited me to join his running group in Florida and I was pictured with them. Geography did not matter to them or to anyone in this city. We were all in this together! It was also great to run into other friends and I had a great three dinners as we tried to meet with everyone we knew. Steve and I had always been pretty good friends before this, however getting to know him better was worth the trip to Boston.

Next up was the “Maniac” picture on Sunday. Marathon Maniacs is a large group of people who run a lot of marathons and we always meet before a race and take our picture together. It was another blast and seriously my smile was getting very tired. I was able to meet several new Maniacs and catch up with some others as well. We took pictures at the finish line and it was just such a festive event. I assure you several other groups were there as well. Some Maniacs I had just seen in St. Louis just seven days ago and we talked about our future running plans. The Marathon Maniacs are a great group and I will always be proud to be a member of them. To see the large contingent in Boston you can see we are not just a bunch of slow runners who take a lot of pictures (sorry it is a stereotype)!

The day of the race came and i was in a tizzy. I was in a hotel three miles from downtown on the opposite side of the airport. I did not have time to possibly run, get my bag and go back to the airport so instead I took my bag over to my buddy Steve’s hotel room and then made my way to the bus for the morning. And you know I picked up a new friend both walking to the bus and again on the bus. Everyone there was so thrilled and just happy to be there. The vibe was just incredible. There is a reason why there is only one Boston marathon.

It was incredibly organized and even though I wondered out loud why we had to leave at 6 for a 10 run, you could see why. It just all happened so fast! I had just seen my friend Joewee, sat down with him for ten minutes and the next thing you know we were walking to the starting line. I lined up saw another Iowa friend, took a picture and made my way to the starting line – we were off!

I had my reservations as I knew my left leg was going to give me problems but they ended about Mile 3. There were just so many people and such great energy! I raced along high fiving the kids and having a great time! I stole a kiss from one of the women at Wellesley and passed Team Hoyt at Mile 17. I considered the free beer and plenty of Twizzlers being handed out. I slowed down in the middle miles but for the most part my leg rebounded and I conquered the last 6 miles in a pretty steady pace. I wasn’t looking at my pace though. I enjoyed the race. I was high fiving everyone I could. While all the other racers hugged the right side to get that perfect turn, I was just high fiving everyone on the left – show the crowd some love! Even when I entered the last two miles and my legs still felt fresh I just kept high fiving and appreciating the crowd. I finished in 3:31 – not a great time but my best time of the year. I still think the crowd got me there.

As we made our way through the chute it was very organized and we got our medals and space blankets immediately followed by quite a bit of food and eventually our bags. I was having a hard time carrying it all so I was THRILLED that Steve’s hotel room was less than two blocks from the finish. I went up, gabbed and showered. I took the T to a bus and made my way to the airport. I started answering my texts and called my mother to let her know how I did. It was just surreal. They all knew. This is one race everyone tracks you.

Unfortunately what happened next was even more surreal. My phone rang again but this time it was my friend Karen.”Thank goodness, you answered! Are you near the explosions?” I was three minutes from the airport I had not a clue what she was talking about. Then there was a quick ring from my friend Brian and my Facebook started lighting up and texts were flying in too. Karen and I stayed on the phone for a couple more minutes as she attempted to explain it to me. Eventually I told her I had to go and catch my plane and figure it out. No one else was saying anything. What was Karen talking about? I hung up the phone and asked around the bus. They stared at me blankly. I put a message on Facebook just saying I was okay and I hoped everyone else was too. I knew so little. I was wondering if something really happened or if it was some hoax. Then someone on the bus pulled up the picture of the explosion and everyone gathered around to see. It seemed so unreal. I guess I just wished someone was playing a joke on me.

I got into the airport with about 20 minutes to spare and did not even have time to check my bag. When I checked my phone again I had 15 new texts and everyone was asking the same thing. I just could not even comprehend what had happened. I went through security and the same toothpaste that had made it on at least 10 flights was confiscated. And it was such an odd moment as when the security guard who took my toothpaste just said to me, “Sir, it is normally not like this. I hope you come back to Boston. I hope you return.” I was just so confused. I was still thinking it could have been a gas leak, right?

I was lucky enough to have TV on my flight to Detroit and catch up and find out the truth. I was angry and lashed out about some message on the Marathon Maniacs page to my friends and kept on wondering why they were so concerned. I was fine! I just wanted to go home and get back to work on Tuesday. There was nothing I could do now. I got home and then went to bed and could not sleep. I just didn’t get it until Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning the weight of the world hit me and when I realized running may never be the same. I went to the gym with a glumful look on my face and ran two uninspired miles. I went to work melancholy and not at all interested in putting my best foot forward. When my friends texted me all day it was one word answers and general malaise. I had to go home that night and drink caffeine just to perk up because I knew I wasn’t sleeping either. The world changed last Monday. I knew that already. We had lost another place we felt safe. Worse, we had lost my favorite place – the marathon.

Worse yet, the majority of people running at that time were the charity runners. I think Team Hoyt passed through just as it was happening. The spectators were not there for their selfishness of running a marathon like I was. They were there unselfishly rooting on a friend or a loved one. They were the ones most affected tragically. They are the ones we run for.

As a friend of mine said, “The spectators are why we run. Otherwise we would just be a bunch of crazies out there running in the middle of nowhere. Not that we aren’t crazy.” She is right. So this Saturday I headed down to Olathe, Kansas and tied my shoes up again to run 26.2. I ran a better race than I had five days before and made sure I thanked and high fived everyone I could. I yelled out to spectators and complimented the signs. I did everything I could to let them know they were appreciated because runners will always run. What really scares me is the loss of the spectator. Thank you everyone that goes to see us. Thank you everyone that went out this last week and will go out in the future. Don’t let this incident affect you. Please come out and see us again. We need to stand strong in times like these and not back down in fear.