Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Marathon...My Thoughts 1 Week Later

A quick preface... this has nothing to do with fishing. I just felt like writing.

I know everyone dreads the 15th of April (or the following Monday if the 15th falls on the weekend). Tax day. Nothing fun about that.  I kind of like it though because it is the signal Boston Marathon Monday. I do everything I can do free my schedule from any serious work so I can watch the live stream of the Boston Marathon.

Ever since I picked up running, I quickly learned how unique the Boston Marathon was. Not only does it attract a field of the world's best runners, but it demands that the field of runners qualify to enter, except those running for charity. So beyond the training for Boston, there is the training for one or more marathons in order to gain the golden BQ (Boston Qualifier). Maybe more so than some other marathons, but I think Boston is a bit more of a celebration of the effort it takes to get there. I am pretty sure I will never have the talent to BQ, so I will always be on the sidelines for Boston. But that's ok because it mean's I get to watch Ryan Hall high five the crowd through Wellseley and Desiree Davila take the inside corner coming onto Boylston and feel the excitement of an American possibly winning Boston even though she fell just short placing second. I get to view that through the wonders of internet streaming.

So this year, I was excited to get to work and watch the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. I was excited to see Shalane Flanagan running with the elite marathoners of the world. Could she be the first American winner since 1983? Could Kara Goucher find some magic? Could Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce be in the mix? Could Jason Hartman better his 4th place finish from 2012? I was ready to watch it all unfold.

As I watched the race begin, they ran through the hills of Hopkinton and across the railroad tracks and into Wellesley. A few women took a big gap on the contenders. I waited and waited for the chase pack to reel them in. Shalane and Kara still in the lead pack as they came down heartbreak hill. Then Jeptoo crushed out a 4:50 mile and no one could hang with her. Shalane ended in 4th, Kara in 6th and Jason Hartman a repeat of 4th place as the top American finishes. I can only imagine the excitement of the crowd when Shalane headed down Boylston this year, or Desiree Davilla a few years ago. I wanted to be there and experience that.

The internet stream ended sometime around 1, and I figured I had a morning's worth of work to catch up on, so I put my head down and realized how unexciting my job is. I was reading Flo-Track and RunnersWorld websites for post race interviews of the elites and I caught the headline about the bombing. Wait. What. Can't be. Yikes.

Then came the images. The kind you can't ever erase from you mind. Not when you are awake. Not when you are asleep.

I won't try to pretend that I have some deeper connection here, because I don't. I don't know anyone personally that was running or watching along the route. But I really identified with those on the sidewalk watching. I spend a good amount of time at the local road races, either running in them myself, or heading the cheer squad for my wife or friends. The reality is that those people on the sidewalk are me, my wife and my son. It hit much closer to home than the 6 hour drive to Boston would indicate.

We did our best to shield our son from the news. I didn't want him to ever think that going to a local road race was anything but a fun event. So we read the headlines on the internet. Most of them being completely wrong (way to go all of you news agencies!) and tried to keep up with what was going on.

There was one picture that hit me pretty hard. It was of one of the bomb sites, but I didn't really see anything but a few empty shoes laying 5-10 feet into the street. I somehow focused on how they belonged to someone, it probably didn't matter much anymore, but I felt like they should get back to their owners.

The picture that put me over the edge was one of the bomb on the ground, one of the suspects behind it, Martin Richards standing on the barricade, I assume it is his mother and sister next to him, and Krystie Campbell to the right of them. I can only imagine their anticipation of seeing their father, husband, friends and loved ones approach the finish line full of pride. Their excitement vanished in a blink of an eye. I don't think I can comprehend.

I continuously attempt to understand this picture, but I end up fighting back tears and have to move my mind elsewhere. There are so many questions I have about the brief moment in time that was captured. There are always pictures that define a moment in history, I have no doubt that this will be the picture I always reference.

While cliche, you often find the best of people in the worst of times, and there are plenty stories of selflessness that should get much more airtime than they do. The ones documented on Boylston Street, and the simple gestures of neighbors that care for each other.

Humans are naturally good. I refuse to believe otherwise.

This past Saturday, my wife and her brother ran a local race here in Asbury Park, Runapolooza. Many runners ran in blue and yellow, in support of the official colors of the Boston Marathon, and did what they did best. Run as fast as they could. My wife, who is awesome, crushed her old PR in the 5 mile race. Me and my son walked along the course down to the corner where the runners would loop back north. We cheered for the front runners and everyone that followed. Once we saw my wife and her brother, we then walked back to about a 1/4 mile north of the finish line and waited for them to head down the final stretch, and cheered some more. A quick walk to the finish line where we cheered for everyone that came through for the 5 mile race, and then majority of the runners for the half marathon. It felt good to watch people cheering, running and supporting each other in this silly thing we do called running

With a heart of sadness, rest in piece Martin Richards, Krystie Campbell, Lingzie Lu and Sean Collier. I can only hope that the recovery of all that are injured is one in which they can find some peace.  Hopefully all of their medical bills, prosthetic limbs, etc will be covered. You can donate here to help. The One Fund

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