Since I was in middle school my family has made it a tradition to go to Boston and watch the marathon. It always falls right around my birthday so the whole weekend is kind of a big celebration. One year the marathon was actually on my birthday! As I’ve said in previous posts, Marathon Monday is my favorite holiday.
My dad and I at the 2011 Boston Marathon
Last year my family and I were in Boston the day of the bombings. My siblings had to work, but my mom, dad, and I watched the start of the race on the television before heading out to our usual cheering spot around mile 23. Like normal, I was giddy with excitement waiting for the elites to come by. I kept refreshing the phone to get updates on how the race was playing out. It seemed like the perfect day – bright and sunny. Across the street from where my family and I were standing were a few policemen. I remember my mom making a comment about how nice it must be for them to relax today and just enjoy the race. Little did they know what was about to happen…
I cheered my brains out when the first runners came by and cheered especially hard for the Americans – Kara and Shalane! Unfortunately I had a Chem lab later that night that I didn’t want to miss since they’re a pain in the butt to make up later. We stayed until the elites had come through before my mom and I headed back home.
a picture of Kara Goucher I took from Boston 2011
We had been driving for at least an hour before my brother called us asking if we were alright. Apparently there had been some explosions at the finish. There was then a scary half hour when we couldn’t get through to my dad because the phone lines were down. The whole ride home I kept getting calls and texts from friends and other family members asking if we were okay.
The whole thing seemed surreal and bizarre. I mean, a terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon!? It just seems crazy. The marathon is something so near and dear to my heart that the attack seemed so personal. It’s such a celebratory day. There’s something I find so pure and beautiful about running a marathon. It’s a test of heart and guts. I was upset that anyone would try and ruin that.
All I can say is that they sure messed with the wrong people when they decided to mess with the marathon. First of all, they messed with Boston, which is historically known as a rebellious city – the Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre… Boston has a lot of heart and a lot of spirit. Secondly, they messed with marathoners. These are people that run 26.2 miles FOR FUN. Nobody forced them to do it. They enjoy pushing their bodies to the extreme. Plus, they didn’t just do 26.2 miles, almost all of them trained for months and months before the race logging over a thousand miles. It also felt like a broader attack on the running community in general. Not all runners run marathons, but we all support each other in our different running endeavors. Lastly, they messed with the supporters. Nearly all of the people injured in the bombings were not running the marathon, but were the loved ones of the runners. As someone that has spectated at a running event, let me tell you, it isn’t easy! The weather doesn’t always cooperate, there often isn’t anywhere for you to sit, plus, you’re normally the one that ends up having to carry around the runner’s gear. The supporters don’t get nearly enough gratitude for the work that they do. After all, runners are nothing without their supporters!
Am I afraid that the same thing will happen again this year? Not really. If I’m being completely honest I’d be hesitant to stand in the same place the bombs went off, but that’s just me being superstitious. I’m sure security will be raised up a whole new notch this year. Plus, we just can’t live our lives in fear. It would be impossible to closely monitor the entire 26.2 mile course. It’s not like a stadium where you can have every spectator walk through a metal detector. Bad things can happen to us at any moment – things out of our control. We can’t avoid doing things because we’re scared. We should live our lives to their potential and enjoy them fully!
I think we’re all pretty excited for the race this year. I’m excited to see even more spirit and even more heart from the city of Boston, the runners, and the spectators. I want people to remember Boston 2014 for its comeback instead of 2013 for its tragedy. I’ll be cheering my brains out on the sidelines again. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll even run in it!