I went to Boston to support heroes. To support the heroics of the runner who worked for months..years..decades to push themselves to the brink to qualify for this most prestigious and challenging of Marathons.
To support the military heroes, defying logic by running 26.2 miles with full gear on.
I watched with my childhood best friend, Diane. If it looks like my grin is falling out of my face, it's because of how happy I was to be supporting those heroes, in Boston, with her. She has lived in Korea the last few years and moved home a week ago.
I have been [not so secretly] happy that Diane moved home from Korea, and not just because I missed her terribly. Despite the nay-saying of political analysts, I didn't like the idea of her living there. The threat of attack didn't make it seem safe. Her proximity to a perceived enemy and to potential violence made me uncomfortable.
I never imagined she would come home and move closer to danger.
So my friend of twenty years and I positioned ourselves at Heartbreak Hill, the end of miles of rolling inclines, where I thought we could best support the heroes. It wasn't the finish line, but I knew there would be a lot of people there.
It's always the most crowded portion of a race.
Meghan ran by first.
This is what the day should have looked like. Meghan has battled injury and has truly been a model of grace, dedication and strength throughout her training. Seeing her looking strong at Mile 21 after those hills, and knowing at that point she could [can't say would] reach the finish was emotional because I felt her joy. This should have been what I blogged about today.
It should have also been about my amazing friend Ashley who ran by just moments after Meghan passed, leaving my phone and I incapable of taking a picture quickly enough. Ashley was running her 6th marathon in support of Boston Medical Center. She has raised over these past six Boston Marathons over $60,000 and was recently profiled in the BU News Service. I should be blogging about that today.
Or perhaps my High School friend, Katherine. A friend with whom I've been in touch with and followed only online through Facebook, but with whom I feel this enormous connection due to our mutual goal to run a Marathon. This was her first, and I should be blogging about that.
But instead, just minutes after we saw Katherine, it all crashed down. The streets were cleared, and the utter shock and confusion began as news poured through our phones.
My heart is broken for the runners and for the families and for my city. It's broken for one more piece of innocence lost.
Marathons are about camaraderie. They're about volunteers giving water to a thirsty runner or aiding someone who needs assistance on the side of the course. They're about total strangers cheering for other total strangers to help get them through a tough time. They're about runners pumping each other up and pushing one another to keep going. They're a shared experience between people that can say to themselves -- and the world -- look what I am capable of.
Without the spectators, without the volunteers, without the medal, it's just a training run. The Marathon is not about only the runners then, really. It's about everyone together.
Shocked and scared, Diane and I walked many miles yesterday trying to figure out where to go. There was no where to go. Thank God for social media, which allowed us to communicate with our families and friends, let our loved ones know that we were safe, and to find out about the safety of everyone we knew in the area. [Will we ever run a major race without phones again? I know I won't...]
And just as we had nothing really to say to each other then, I can't offer any more profound thoughts now. Other than to say that I remain -- as I'm sure do we all -- disgusted, confused, and in pain. No explanations. No logic. Just senseless, senseless tragedy that does nothing exept make us ask: Why?
I went to support the heroes and instead found myself truly in the midst of them in a way I could never have fathomed. You have heard the stories by now, to be sure. Runners donating blood...physicians rushing into action...people opening homes to strangers...people supporting people.
And the heroes I came to support remain heroes in my eyes. The training is not in vain. The money raised will do so much good. And the spirit of the day --I know with all my broken heart -- will only grow stronger.
I am thankful tonight for the safety and health tonight of my friends and family. I am thankful for my healthy body that will allow me to go tomorrow for a long, pensive run. I am thankful for the good I've seen in people that extended far beyond the race course the past two days.
Marathons are about camaraderie. I love this crazy sport. And I love my city. Even though I'm writing this from New York, my heart joins the rest of the world in Boston tonight.