If there’s one thing that I never expected to witness in my life, it would be an act of terror. I certainly didn’t expect to witness such an act after I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. What a tangled, twisted, emotional day that was and for so many reasons. I was having a hard enough time mentally and emotionally at this time in my life; both when I qualified and when I ran it. I had just lost my Dad a month earlier (stage 4 renal cancer, undiagnosed). I didn’t have support from my family because of my pending divorce. To top it off, I went and injured myself two days before the race by pushing through a run when I experienced sharp hamstring pain. Depsite all the negatives, I was hell-bent on enjoying this experience because I had actually given up on the hope that I’d one day be here. I had accepted that I would never be fast enough to be here. Well, never say never. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the right mind-set and determination. It’s true what they say, that running is 90% mental. I’m here to tell you, it really is!
Okay, that was all the bad stuff. There’s always a silver lining if you look for it. I choose to focus on the good stuff and let the bad stuff be the catalyst to moving forward and to healing. Jamison was with me every step of my training journey and on the “day of the show” when my dream became a reality; that’s my favorite part of all of this. He pushed me through so many runs when I didn’t want to push and sacrificed his own training to help me succeed. It meant the world to me having him by my side. He even went to the finish line super early to get a good spot and proceeded to sit there all day…8 hours waiting for me to finish–4 before I even got to start the race and then the 4 it took me to finish. My friends and running partners Brandon & Carla also ran their first Boston and Carrie ran her 7th with her husband John there to support her. We had tentative plans to celebrate afterwards, but that never happened because we were told to go to our hotels and stay put. Flights were grounded too, so we couldn’t head back home early if we wanted to. We felt safe enough staying in our room. We watched TV for what seemed like hours trying to figure out what happened. There was a high-rise mall across from the hotel and we did go and eat at PF Changs. We had the restaurant to ourselves; not a common thing to see after a huge race like that! We did later meet John and Carrie for a drink in the bar since we were staying in the same hotel. None of us were much in the mood for it, but we dragged ourselves down. It was so good to see them since it was hours before we knew that all of our friends had made it out safely.
Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions of crossing that line feeling on top of the world and then 10 minutes later, feeling nothing but fear and anxiety as we worked our way (3 miles on foot) back to the hotel. In the blink of an eye, the city seemingly shut down. No subway, no busses, just people making their way away from the race course in what I called “controlled chaos” and calling their loved ones in a frenzy to let them know they were ok. I couldn’t get my phone to work, but I did have 33 texts and voicemails and at that moment, I knew that there were people who truly cared about me.
No one really knew for sure what was happening and that confusion made it even worse. It wasn’t until we walked past the hospital, near our hotel and saw all the ambulances unloading the injured victims, that it finally hit us that this was real and that what we heard were indeed bombs. I was not present at the spot where the bombs went off, but Jamie was. In fact, he sat in the very spot waiting for me, where bomb #1 was placed. I don’t take that we escaped injury for granted; not one single day. I think about it all the time. Had I been 2 minutes slower with my finish, my story may not have had a very happy ending for either of us.
I found it hard to discuss the details of the race itself afterwards. For the first time since I’ve run, I didn’t care about my splits, my pains, my time; we didn’t even take any pictures other than the ones that Jamie captured as I was approaching the finish line. None of that seemed important anymore. I can say this now…despite the horrible hamstring pain, I pushed harder than I’ve ever pushed in any race and I did manage to run my second fastest marathon time ever. I will just leave it at that.
This experience made me even more determined to go back in 2014 (my qualification was good for both years). 2014 was not a good training year for me with more injuries; and mentally I struggled with continued family issues, so my heart wasn’t in the training. I hobbled my way through the 2014 race with my slowest marathon time to date; but I don’t care. All that I can say about my second year back was that I ran it with my heart 100%; my legs had nothing to do with it. I wanted to go back and experience the good and not let fear, evil and hate win. I will qualify again one day and I will go back and run that race with purpose and intent, but until then, I will do what I can at the moment and be content with all that I’ve experienced and learned. #BostonStrong