By now, we all know that Monday’s 117th Boston Marathon turned into a day gone horribly, horribly wrong. The Richard family will stand as a symbol of Boston’s first act of terrorism. Boylston Street will be tainted by images of blood, shattered glass and limp bodies. The city of Boston will never forget the two explosions that shook all of us on one of the most celebratory days of the year.
For me, Monday marked my first marathon experience. Running a marathon has been a lifelong goal of mine and something to include on my “bucket list.” I wanted to run for my Dad because growing up, he had expressed how badly he wanted to run a marathon. However, he never had the chance to complete his goal. Fitness and athleticism was our way to bond so deep down, I always knew I would run one for him.
As a senior at Boston University, I believed that this year was my time to run the 2013 marathon. I had spent my previous three “Marathon Monday’s” celebrating the college way—waking up at 8:00 a.m. and spending the remainder of the morning and afternoon by having Kegs & Eggs and too many shots of cheap tequila. I had drunkenly cheered on the runners along Beacon Street, envying each and every one of them for running 26.2 miles—an accomplishment not even 1% of the population can say they experienced.
At heart, I would say I’m a New Yorker. I’m not a real Bostonian and am not biased towards the city of Boston. However, I say with all certainty that there is no marathon like the Boston Marathon. Even with 27,000 runners and over 500,000 spectators, you feel the energy and celebration of a unified community.
This year, I was fortunate enough to train with Team Brookline and raise $5,000 for the Brookline Education Foundation. Twenty-six of us trained together every Saturday morning, running along the marathon course on several of our training runs. Team Brookline went above and beyond to prepare us for race day. We had a marathon trainer and several meetings within the four months to teach us about proper hydration, nutrition and stretching. I was confident and both physically and mentally prepared to finish the Boston Marathon.
I crossed the finish line prior to the explosions, completing the race in 3 hours and 39 minutes. Post-marathon was the happiest 30 minutes, a real “runner’s high,” followed by hours of confusion, disbelief and sadness. I was about four blocks from the finish line, in between Boylston and Newbury Street when the explosions occurred. I felt the ground shake, the noise shock my ears and the smoke cloud over the Prudential Center. Within seconds, two police officers came running my way, screaming, “Run! It’s a bomb!” Utter panic filled my body as dozens of spectators sprinted away from Boylston Street. I grabbed my brother’s arm and we ran as fast as we could away from the explosions. It is so difficult to describe those initial few moments—it’s almost like an outer body experience. Your feet just begin to move.
I’m one of those hard-ass type of people too. I’m guarded, sarcastic and unsentimental. I usually show no emotion unless I’m angry. However, I was so clearly shaken and disturbed by the events that unfolded on Marathon Monday. I couldn’t get in touch with my best friend or my fellow members of Team Brookline. I felt like a helpless little girl, in need of comfort from both my Mom and Dad. That night, I tossed and turned and fought a restless sleep. I cried at random times the next day. My mind was clouded with questions and I refused to go on the Internet or watch the news. The blatant reality of being classified as one of the “lucky ones” is like a double-edged sword. You feel an overwhelming sense of relief, but are stunned by how close you were to being another victim.
It’s not my intention to sound dramatic—but I absolutely despise when people ask, “will you ever consider running the Boston Marathon again?”. It’s like asking someone if they will fly again after 9/11. This is America. And unfortunately, we must accept that terrible things happen to really good people. However, the good will always outnumber the bad and acts of violence can happen anywhere. I will never let these sick men ruin my Marathon Monday, my first marathon experience.
Apart from this tragedy, what will I remember most about the 117th Boston Marathon? I will remember the smallest of children eagerly waving orange peels, Twizzlers and freeze pops to all runners. I will remember trying to high-five each and every one of them—a brief moment of shared bliss between us. I will remember the drunken faces of the Boston College students. Their chants and cheers is what pulled me to the top of Heartbreak Hill. I will remember strangers yelling, “Go Lex” throughout the entire 26.2 miles because my name was written on both thighs. I will remember the proud smiles of both my parents and brother as I ran past them on miles 15 and 25. The Boston Marathon surrounds you with an absurd amount of love, excitement and happiness.
We must remember that there is so much good in our country. We can’t stop some individuals from doing harm, but we can’t let them stop us from living our lives. No one will ever forget what happened on April 15, 2013. My goal is to return to Boston next year and finish the 118th Boston Marathon. I will run alongside seasoned marathoners, first-comers, and the thousands who couldn’t complete this year’s race. We will honor both the lives lost and those injured by the explosions. It’s impossible to describe unless you experience it, because the spirit of the Boston Marathon is unlike any other.