Unless you don’t have a soul, you were no doubt touched by the events of one year ago today in Boston at the Boston Marathon finish line. I’ve been thinking about it all day, as many have. You see, I was watching the marathon online and on TV last year. My reason was because one of my favorite people, Joey McIntyre was running his first marathon that day in his hometown. It meant so much to so many people, including me.
Yes, I was watching because I’m a Joe girl, but it turned into so much more than that, way before the first bomb went off. I was tracking Joe’s progress online and watched the elite runners finish on TV. I can’t remember where I watched, maybe ESPN. But anyway, I was already a runner. Small time (2 miles) at the time, but still a runner. I got so excited watching the runners, especially when they crossed the finish line. It’s an emotional moment for any runner, especially the Boston natives. I remember one in particular: Shalane Flanagan. She finished 4th in her first Boston Marathon. Since then, I’ve become a Shalane fangirl. The sportscasters talked about how she was from Marblehead, 15 miles from Boston, and how much it would mean to her to win Boston. I started yelling at my TV “Go girl!!” She did awesomely but couldn’t catch the winner, Rita Jeptoo. Still, something about Shalane struck me. Maybe it was her tears soon after she crossed the finish line, that she was a Massachusetts girl. But I decided in that moment that one day, I would run the Boston Marathon. Granted, I hadn’t even run a 5k at the time. But that was it for me. I’m going to run the Boston Marathon someday.
I know I’ll never run it at an elite level like Shalane, but I will run it. Joe, by the way, finished in 3:57:06. His goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud of him and to be a Joe girl as I was that day. I remember weeping because I was so proud and happy for him.
(Kudos to whoever took this picture. It was unfortunately not me)
And then, maybe ten minutes after Joe finished, I started seeing tweets about an explosion at the finish line. I saw the first pictures. I’ll never forget the man’s face that I saw in that first picture. The shock on his face, blood spatters all around him. It was unreal. I thought/hoped/prayed it was someone’s idea of a very sick joke. But I kept seeing the pictures. Body parts strewn about and blood spatters. I knew immediately it was a bomb. I tried to tell myself it was a manhole or electrical explosion, but I knew. I started freaking out: Where’s Joe? Was he out of the area? Thank goodness he tweeted that he was okay moments later. But there were so many who weren’t okay. I’ve never gone from that ridiculously excited and happy to sickened, sad and mad as hell that fast. I wanted to do something to help, to heal this city I’ve never been to but love as much as a second home. I wanted to run the Boston Marathon more than ever.
In the days afterward, I would start my own little charity group, Blockheads Against Alzheimer’s, for #TheLongestDay to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. No, it wasn’t directly for Boston but I felt like I was doing something to help other people. I’ll be doing it again this year. I’ll be running as many miles as I possibly can on #TheLongestDay, June 21. Here’s where you can join my team or donate. That would be swell. 🙂 I’m not writing this to drum up donations, though. I just want to speak of my own journey in running. After the marathon, I started training harder. I slowed down in the summer when it was so hot but I eventually got up to running 4 miles without stopping. This was a huge deal for me. I love running so much. It’s great exercise, a wonderful stress reliever and somehow makes me feel more me.
On December 14, 2013, almost eight months to the day after the Boston Marathon (and I just now realized this), I ran my first official 5k. My time was 32:59, I think. I finished fifth overall and the third woman. It was a small field (I’d guess 50 or so at most) but still. I just knew after that, “Yup. I’m doing Boston.” I dream big, what can I say?
That’s me, near the finish. 🙂 Repping Boston with the hat, of course. Unfortunately, on January 9, on a run, I sprained my ankle. That set me back, almost to the beginning. I almost gave up. But I think it was a test for me. (a) How badly do I want this? (b) Am I really going to let an injury stop me from being a runner? Answers: (a) Really freaking bad. (b) Hell no.
Today, a year after the 2013 Boston Marathon, I’m a little damaged but a lot stronger. A couple of days ago, I ran 2 miles again for the first time since the injury. It felt damn good. Today, when it stops raining (and it better stop soon!) I’m going to run again. For Boston, for me, for those who can’t. It may only be another 2 miles but I’m a runner. And I will run. 😀