"If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."
-Kathrine Switzer, women's marathoning pioneer, First women to run the Boston Marathon
"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best."-Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Oympic marathoner
The Boston marathon is a special event in the running community. To run in Boston, you have to qualify. And, qualifying is no easy task. Getting a "BQ" (Boston Qualifier) is a running accomplishment. For the friends that have gotten BQ's, we celebrate that accomplishment. And those that go to Boston, we praise and are filled with excitement. A marathon is a dream for many people. And, the Boston Marathon is a dream for many runners. Those that cross the finish line in Boston are fulfilling dreams and inspiring the rest of us. The finish line of Boston is a place of celebration and happiness.
Yesterday, this was not so.
During the day, I got updates of a couple friends had finished the marathon. This was happy news to hear. I knew other friends were still out there running and waiting to hear that they finished. I was thinking of them all. I was wishing that they were all having a great race and just soaking in the energy, excitement that is the Boston Marathon.
Then, I get an update about two explosions. Confusion hit. I wasn't sure what that meant. First, I think maybe I misread the news alert. I was hoping it was news that a couple elite runners has an "explosive" performance. But, that was not so.
I found the news articles about two explosions at the finish line. I saw a horrific picture of the finish line. Debris and smoke at the finish line. What should be a beautiful sight of people crossing the finish line with smiles of dreams come true is a nightmare-ish sight.
I then texted a few friends out there and checked on facebook to find updates. Within an hour, through the wonders of modern communication, I heard that nearly all my friends out in Boston (both runners and spectator friends) were okay. I am amazed that my running friends responded so quickly to check on all our friends and to update the rest of us. It was our family out there in Boston and we came together to be sure our friends were okay.
But, I did not hear back from one friend, Diane. The feeling of not knowing where she was made my heart sink. I saw the finish line clock was 4:09 and it made me worry further as she could have finished around that time. I felt sick with worry. Diane is a really good friend to me. She has helped me greatly become the runner I am today. She trained with me and gave me a lot of advice when I was training for my first marathon. She made my first marathon special. I remember the joy I felt when she qualified for Boston. I remember the party we had to celebrate that accomplishment. I remember many conversations about how exciting it is she'll be going to Boston. I remember wishing her a great time in Boston. I remember the last thing she said to me was that she'll post something when she's done and "Love you Helen."
When I heard the news, I worried about her. I worried about others too but she was the one I worried the most. The others checked in through me or another friend so I felt relief. But, no word on Diane. I heard runners on the course were stopped around mile 26. I had hoped she was there. And finally, after a bit, I received the text message "we are ok." This brought tears to my eyes. So much relief.
After the relief that my friends are okay, the reality of what occurred sank in. I read/watched the news. I have watched other tragedies occurred and my heart ached to see such things. But this one, this one hit close to home. This one hit my running community. And, it is so surreal. Why this?
I have heard the accounts of various friends out there. Some friends had finished and gone back to their hotel, relishing in the joy of finishing when the energy in the air changed. Those friends heard the news and had to go find the other friends still on the course. Those friends had to send messages to friends/family so that we all can be updated they were okay. Rather than post status updates of "I finished!," they have to post "I am OK!" Rather than having friends send messages of "Congratulations," they are getting messages of "Are you okay?!" and/or "Have you seen [insert friend name]?" Rather than phone calls of joy/happiness, the calls are of concerns.
Then, I heard of two friends spectating. They were there at the finish line. Between where the two blasts occurred. One said "From such happiness and excitement to deepest sadness. I felt, saw and heard...then ran." These are good friends of mine. Friends I love dearly. These two friends were right there. So, close. They heard. They saw. They ran. Had to flee the scene. They had to go find our friends who were out there. Then, they had to let those of us not there know they were okay. It makes me sick to know they were so close. Grateful they did not get injured. Sad that there are any injured people at all. Sad I have to feel relief that friends are okay.
Another friend said she was running and the excitement turned to confusion. And, through the crowds she searched and gratefully found her husband. Then, panic hit as they searched for other friends.
My friend Diane said she was running and stopped at mile 25.6. Less than a mile to the finish. She and other runners sat and waited not knowing. After 10 minuets of waiting, she then exited and walked back to her hotel where she later found her friend and husband.
Hearing those stories from my friends make my heart ache. Seeing the news stories and knowing my friends were there makes me sick. This one hit close to home, close to my heart.
I am sad. Sad to those that were injured and killed. I am sad for those who had their happiness taken away. Those that finished and unable to celebrate their accomplishments as it is a great accomplishment to finish the Boston Marathon. I am sad for those friends and other runners who were stopped before finishing. I am sad for those that were stopped before fulfilling their dreams because a nightmare happened. I am sad for all the friends and families of everyone that was there.
And, I continue to ask myself how could this happen to my running world?
Running is special to me. When bad things happen, I run. I run when I am sad and it makes me feel better. I run when I am angry and it makes me feel better. I run when I am stressed and it makes me feel better. I run and it makes me feel better. My fellow running friends and even strangers that are runners understand this. This is the bond we share. Running is our happy place. Through running, we have formed a special bond. My running friends have been there for me for all good and bad times. My running friends are family to me. And, my running family has grown so much in the past few years. It was family out in Boston yesterday. Yesterday was supposed to be a happy day for many running friends. But, something changed that. Changed the happiness to sadness.
Some running friends and I went for an evening run yesterday to de-stress. Unable to make sense of it all, we did what we know...we run. Our bonds still remain. We run when we are sad, angry, stressed, etc. . . We ran to feel a little better about things and to comfort one another. And, we will continue to run.
"~A Coaches Perspective By Daphnie YangRunning is freedom. Running is love. Running is joy. But ultimately running is the purest form of the strength of the human spirit.
How dare this person or group of persons, perform this act of heinousness and at an event so symbolic of all that is good in the world.
My heart is broken for the lives lost, the physically injured and the emotionally scarred.
This was an act of atrocity against the human spirit.
But we will not let them break our spirit. We will not let them them win. Above all, we will keep running
Please share if you plan to stay strong and keep running."