Boston Marathon: AB

Before I begin this section, I have to back track. Three weeks before the marathon, when I had to start tapering because I was having issues with my non-injured knee/leg, I was completely panicking about what to do. (I know, totally unlike me....) My insane iron-man triathlete orthopedist had said if I was having issues two weeks prior to race day, she would give me shots to get me through the race and then "fix me later." At the time, I thought she was an angel. But I had always assumed that that was just her way of reassuring me and had never thought I would take her up on it.

As the race loomed near however, and I was having to throw my training schedule out the window and only run every other day and only very short distances, I started wondering if maybe I needed to reconsider her offer. One day, as I read on the treadmill and was pondering what to do, I came across this passage in Isaiah (40:31):

But those who wait on the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not be faint.

I about stopped in my tracks as the verse jumped up off the page and struck me square in the forehead. I needed that. I needed help with my decision. I needed renewed hope. And so, during the course of the marathon weekend, the race itself and whenever I started doubting myself and my decision to forgo meds, it was this passage I repeated in my head, over and over and over. Clearly, I needed to be able to feel pain if something should come up.  I needed to know if there was a reason to stop. And I needed to trust that things would play out ok. And that I wouldn't die.

So, back to the story. I had just met up with Kurt, just found our friends in the hotel lobby, had already spoken to or texted my parents, had changed into dry clothes and refilled my water several times and was already feeling disappointment at running three seconds/mile slower than my goal pace when I got a frantic voicemail from my mom wanting to know if we were okay.

I thought she had finally lost it. Why on earth would we not be okay when she knew I was done and okay? But her message ended with something about bombs at the finish line....and then we saw what the world saw as runners and spectators in the bar and lobby swarmed to the only TV to watch the dreadful scene play out. We were right around the corner. But in all our enthusiastic conversing, in the safety and comfort of the hotel, we did not see or hear a thing. The room, once full of life and celebration went into a somber quiet, a hushed buzz. We were as helpless as those watching half way around the world. We saw the desperation of families outside in the meeting area, as the runners stopped flowing freely to them. We sat with a woman whose husband had been running and she had no way to contact him and no way to know if he was okay. Cell phones went down as they turned off the cell towers. I was bombarded with texts: "Are you ok?" everyone wanted to know. It then occurred to Kurt, if I could receive texts, maybe I could get online and find out if her husband had finished. Sure enough, I was able to pull up his time and saw that he finished only minutes behind me. It was something to grasp onto although not the same as having him walk safely through the door.

I prayed quietly. I clung to my mantra, repeating the verse from Isaiah, praying that the responders would have renewed strength and save as many people as possible, that the bystanders would mount up on wings like eagles, running to help without growing weary and walking without being faint. I prayed for the victims, those killed or injured as well as those left stranded, heartbroken, on the course. I prayed for the people of Boston and for all of us. And I prayed for whoever had done such a heinous thing because surely there was something very, very wrong with them.

As we watched the story unfold, I told Kurt how hopeful I felt that even in the midst of such a tragedy, there is so much goodness in the world. I pointed out the video clips that showed people actually running toward where the bombs had gone off, possibly risking their own lives to help save the lives of others. It was horrific and yet.....in the midst of such horror was a sliver of tender, vulnerable beauty. There were amazing rescues, incredible courage, humbling love for one another. Where two people had caused such chaos and destruction, literally tearing families and people apart, heroes were created, and goodness shone through however faintly it seemed at the time.

Pretty soon, there was talk that they were going to lockdown or evacuate the city. Kurt and I decided we needed to get out before that happened. And I have to sheepishly admit, in that moment I was so very thankful that out hotel was 40 minutes out. (Good thinking, Kurt!) We quickly made our way outside into the frantic energy and commotion as they told people to get off the streets. Everyone was moving quickly, well, as quickly as you can after running 26.2 miles anyway. And after getting our car and weaving our way through the streets of Boston, noting the streets lined with ambulances and other emergency vehicles at the ready, we were back on the highway. Various squads, maybe FBI or bomb squads or more military or homeland security or whoever else, passed us as they raced into the city. And pretty soon, we were back in Westborough and back in our hotel. We were actually the first runners/spectators back and the faces of hotel staff told us that they had never been more relieved to see people returning to their hotel; truly a sentiment felt by us all!

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