Heartbroken over the 2013 Boston Marathon

Kathrine Switzer
Kathrine Switzer

April 15, 2013 – Patriot Day – The Boston Marathon.

As someone who is looking forward to running in her first marathon, the Chicago Marathon in October, I cannot even put into words how I feel about the senseless bombing of the iconic Boston Marathon.  All I can say is…when I heard the news, I started crying…and then…I started running.  And it has been a struggle to make myself stop doing either one.

I wasn’t in Boston for the marathon, but I feel my heart was.  I knew a few people who were running yesterday.  I know a few people who live there.  And I have been told, by countless people, that they believe I can qualify for this historic, amazing, iconic race.

As a runner, the events that unfolded in Boston ripped through my body and soul.  It was so senseless.

I read the news at work, as the first reports came over my Twitter feed.  I got up and hurried over to Cathy’s desk and relayed the news.  From then on, I was a mess of fighting back tears, receiving texts from friends and family, and just doing my best to keep it together.  There is just something about Boston that touches the runner in all of us.

Yesterday started off really amazing.  I had a running feed of the Boston Marathon going.  I was getting a lot of work done.  I was cheering for my US ladies, Shalane Flanagan (finished 4th) and Kara Goucher (finished 6th) as well as the US men, like Jason Hartmann (finished 4th).  My work situation was tense.  I had apparently pissed off my teammate that morning…and instead of telling me…things just got uncomfortable.  I confronted her on it…she finally just told me the issue.  We resolved it…but I was tense.  And then…explosions ripped through the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  And my world just seemed to stop for a moment.

WHY?  JUST WHY?!  That’s what I didn’t understand.  I still don’t understand.  I try to think the best of people and then some senseless act strikes.  What kind of an asshole bombs a marathon?!  I struggled with news reports the rest of the day, fighting back tears at the office, and ultimately failing every time.  With a heavy heart and puffy, tear-soaked eyes, I left the office and headed home.

I wasn’t home long.  My local running store was putting on their usual Monday night fun run.  They aptly put up over Twitter and Facebook that it was now a Boston Solidarity Walk/Run.  My heart was in it…I didn’t just want to go, I needed to go.  So, after eating dinner very quickly, Cathy and I hopped into the car and drove over to Louisville to my running store for the usual Monday night fun run.  The mood was solemn.  For awhile no one really wanted to talk about it.  But we all had it in our hearts and on our minds.  You just had to look us – our posture, our stoic faces.  We left for our run…and I was going to take it easy and stay with the group.

At first, conversation was about marathons…and security now.  The subject slowly changed…to what people did last weekend…Jurassic Park 3D…and then we hit the hills of Cherokee Park.  A friend of the small group I was with in the lead stopped them, but I kept going.  I couldn’t stop.  My feet needed to move.  Easy, without any speed or power behind it.  Me legs just had to be moving.  They had to run.  And it was when I broke away and really thought about the events of the day, that the tears really started to flow.  I cried my eyes out and my heart out on that run through Cherokee Park.  It felt cleansing and good.  And I know people were wondering why this girl was bawling her eyes out as she ran the loop, but I couldn’t stop the emotions just like I couldn’t stop my feet.  It had to happen.  I needed it to happen.

Hal Higdon, an American writer and runner said it best yesterday in his response to the bombings at Boston.  He said:

“When I first offered the link below, it was to let everyone know who were the winners in today’s Boston Marathon. But there were a lot of losers today: all of us who love the sport of long distance running, all who love the Boston Athletic Association Marathon for all it means to our sport. And ironically from early reports, those who seem to have taken the biggest hit from the explosions were those who cheer us, the spectators standing beside the road. God love them all.”

He’s absolutely right.  The brunt of the attacks didn’t so much hit the runners, but tore through the people who lined the course…those who chose to come out and offer support to the tired runners who were making their way in to the finish line.  They were celebrating the accomplishments of others, cheering, clapping, shouting.  Runners need support like that, especially after a grueling race.  These people were innocent bystanders.  They didn’t have to be out on that street offering their support to those out there running – but that was where they chose to be.

Another reason it hit so hard…had I been running Boston, my family, Cathy, even my friends could have been right there waiting for me to come in, perhaps watching me come in.  Perhaps I would have been done by then.  But…this could have been my loved ones.  It hits hard.  It breaks my heart.  And I am still torn to pieces on the inside over the entire situation.

Runners are some of the kindest and most giving people in the world.  I have met so many amazing and wonderful people in the running community.  This senseless act tore through me…because it affected a world that I am a part of.  I am a runner.  And this hurt.  This stung.  This ripped through me and broke my heart.  I had tears in my eyes this morning as I went out for my morning run.

One of my female running idols, Kathrine Switzer, who has huge ties to the Boston Marathon (GO GIRL!), once said, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”

I couldn’t agree more.  To all the runners out there…I know.  I feel it too.  For all of you who choose to come out and cheer at any race, no matter the size or distance…thank you.  You are the true heroes…because you are the ones who pull us through when we need it most.

My heart is with Boston today.  My soul is in Boston today.  My mind is on Boston today.  My love goes out to those who helped…the heroes in Boston, the spectators, the victims, the runners, the residents…

Hug a runner today.  Hug a spectator today.  Because, when it all comes down to it…we’re in this race together.

Stay strong, Boston.

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