Yesterday, Patriots’ Day 2013, a running friend and I had the honor of being spectators at the Boston Marathon. We started the day bright and early, driving to Riverside and then riding the T into Newton. We were super excited, runners heading to our holy land. Our plan was to walk out to the course in Newton, around mile 20, to view the race. We were delighted to find that we emerged from the T just past mile 20, at the foot of Heartbreak Hill. We had plenty of time before the elite athletes were expected to arrive, so we walked around and took pictures.
Our excitement only grew as the race updates indicated that the lead runners were getting closer and closer. Before long, the lead group was in front of us. It was amazing to be so close to the elite athletes I admire.
The women’s and men’s leader groups passed by, and then came the rush of sub-elites and “normal people”. It was thrilling. I loved cheering for the runners and seeing their joy as they came up and over Heartbreak Hill. I sent my mom this picture, and the message “I want to do this one day”.
We watched for hours, cheering and ringing our bells. Back at the T station, we began getting text messages. Friends and family were worried, asking if we were safe, ok, and not near the finish line. We had no idea what had happened. I immediately got on social media to find out what had happened. I was horrified. Explosions at the finish line had killed some, hurt hundreds, and ruined what, for many people, was an amazing, empowering, and beautiful day.
In the midst of great achievement and euphoria, there was all this horror and suffering. It was so incongruous that it was difficult to understand. Today, I still don’t understand how something so terrible could happen at an event that is truly about the power of the human spirit. And today, none of the wonderful moments are quite as wonderful. All of my beautiful memories are tarnished by the sadness of what has happened.
But Boston is strong and resilient. Runners are strong and resilient. We will not be defeated. We are united. We are Boston. And, one day, I will run Boston. I’m Boston-bound with 4.09 miles tonight in honor of those who were harmed by this senseless tragedy.