The Boston Marathon has been a central theme in my life for as long as I can remember. So central that it was the key feature of my application to medical school, wrapped up in some story about my grandmother and determination. I was cheering in Boston yesterday and have incredible photos but I just don’t feel like they should be shared today.
My Boston story starts as a little girl on the South Shore of Boston. My grandparents were Boston through and through and every Patriots Day, my grandmother would dress me up in my Boston Marathon outfit and I’d run “the marathon” in her backyard. When I grew up to be a runner, she would always assume that any race I did was the Boston Marathon.
I was watching the Boston Marathon in Mobile, Alabama while visiting a dear friend in April of 2007 when news of the Virginia Tech shootings broke. My friend went to Tech and we spent the rest of the day crumpled on the floor, trying to process.
When I ran Boston in 2011, it was not the celebration it should have been. My grandmother had died two days earlier and instead of all of us celebrating my run, we did Boston as a stop on the way to her wake. I finished Boston, grabbed my gear and headed to her wake in flip flops. My friend KC got a fantastic picture of me coming down Boylston, cheering where she always cheers. Cheering where the second explosion went off yesterday. Even through her boyfriend ran this year, she couldn’t make it up and someone else stood in KC’s spot.
I took the day off yesterday to go to Boston to watch Shalane and Kara take a crack at winning Boston. I woke up, ran at Castle Island in South Boston and headed into town to cheer. Meredith and I met up with Suzanne (my sister) and we headed to mile 22 to cheer everyone on. It was a beautiful day, 48 and sunny with just a light breeze. After the top groups went through, we debated going downtown to try to catch the finish, but because I didn’t have my Charlie Card, we didn’t go. We planned to head down there to meet up with friends after grabbing something to eat.
At 2:56 pm, my fiance called. Per usual, I was well hydrated and had to pee. I told Suzanne and Meredith, “Oh, I’ll just call him right back.” By the time I came out of the bathroom, Meredith and Suzanne were gray and we were in the living room frantically turning on the news. Will would call me for the next 30 minutes, unable to get through.
The rest of the afternoon was a numbing, terrifying blur. Even today, I feel like I’m starring in some horrible movie and I can’t seem to stop reading the news as though reading one more report will help it make sense to me. I know that it won’t but it doesn’t stop me. So all I can do is sit at my desk in my bright yellow Boston 2011 shirt and wait til I get to go for a run tonight.