Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Year Ago

What: 2013 Boston Marathon - Race Recap
Date: April 15, 2013
Location: Boston, MA
Start: ~10:20am (corral 7, wave 2)
Finish: 3:57:58

It's been one year since the bombings at the Boston Marathon yet everything is still so vivid to me. So much has happened this past year. I've been so grateful for each and every day. I never posted my 2013 Boston race recap. I wasn't ready at the time but today seems like a good day to do so. It's not an epic story by any means but it is the story I had wanted to share since last year. The following are some of my thoughts recorded on the days before, during and following my trip to Boston last year. I decided not to edit much of it with the exception of some spelling and grammar errors since I wrote all of it on my iPad. I apologize for being so verbose but I had a lot of down time in my hotel room following the bombings.

April 13, 2013 (notes I wrote at upon arriving at Logan Airport):
Our red-eye flight took off on time from the Long Beach Airport. I love JetBlue and their amazing service and amenities. I especially love the individual TVs. We got to select from a couple of movies to watch. I wasn't able to sleep so movie watching it was. I picked Silver Lining's Playbook. That movie was not what I thought it was. It was more dark than I had anticipated. For my second movie I selected Life of Pi. What an amazing story that was. I had never read the book but my sisters have and I remember them telling me about how good it was years ago. I enjoyed the movie very much. As the movie ended, I briefly glanced out the plane window and noticed the breaking of dawn. I could see a faint light growing brighter which meant that we were almost there. Thank goodness too because I don't do well on plane rides and was at the point where I could no longer sit still. The landing was loud and rough. It was sprinkling a little bit outside when we landed.

We walked around Terminal C for a bit and decided to go get some breakfast. I was not really that hungry mostly because I had not slept. My husband ordered a hot breakfast. I walked back to the Dunkin Donut Express that we had past on the way to the sit down breakfast place. It wast my first taste of DD. It was just okay to me. Again, maybe it was because I was tired. I also got a blueberry muffin. It was decent. I hope it was reduced fat.

I am sitting in what was a quieter part of the airport trying to catch some zzz's awaiting for my sister's flight to arrive so that we can all catch the "T" (the local underground public transportation system here in Boston) together to the hotel. There is a draft here in Terminal C. My husband is laying on the floor using his backpack as a pillow. He looks to be asleep. Don't know how he can sleep like that. The area starts to grow busier by the minute as people start to arrive to board their plane. An hour has past. I'm thinking to myself that we should probably start walking over to the terminal where my sister's flight would be arriving at since it was about to arrive. As I walked through the terminal to my sister's plane, I can see Boston Marathon merchandises being sold in the airport gift shop. Twenty percent off. Tempting but I'll hold off until the expo. I'm sleepy. I hope that I will be able to make it through this day. Will probably crash hard later. Hopefully when I get to the hotel. (Of course this didn't happen since I decided to go exploring with my sister.) 

After checking into our hotel, Sister K and I headed directly to the expo to pick up my bib. It was pretty crowded in there but everyone was buzzing with excitement. I remember being so caught up with the excitement of just being there.

Boylston Street

We went to check out the finish line. And of course to lay down on the finish line for some photos. Trust me, everyone was doing it.

April 15, 2013: Race Day
It was a beautiful crisp spring morning. I definitely had butterflies in my stomach that morning.

Athlete's Village, as you can see was a madhouse.

But it was fully stocked with everything that a runner could need.

The walk to the starting corrals.

This was my corral.

Running through Farmingham.

Wellesley College

The deserted streets outside our hotel the day after the bombings.

Thoughts from April 16, 2013:
I had wanted to post about this the day it happened but my thoughts were so scattered. I didn't know how to make sense of it all. I still can't make any sense of the events that occurred. April 15, 2013 was the day my dreams and nightmares collided into one. It was the day I ran my first Boston Marathon, something I had looked forward to doing for awhile now. It was the first year that I had qualified. Most people that I talked to about the Boston Marathon spoke highly of it and so I was super excited to finally get the chance to run it.

The course itself is not anything amazing. I've ran better courses before. What makes running Boston so amazing is the history and the people. I have never experienced such energy from a race before. It felt like everyone who lived along the course or the city came out to cheer us on. There were sections where the sounds of people cheering was so loud that it was deafening. I could feel the vibrations from their voices run through my entire body. It was unreal.

I ran the best race I could considering I had not had time to go through a proper training cycle. I started the race very conservatively per the advice of a couple of articles that I had read and friend Pam who reminded me about it the night before during dinner. This turned out to be good advice because I still had something left in the tank in the last couple of miles when those around me had slowed down considerably. I wanted to run a good race for all those people who had ever encouraged me to run and supported me over the years. Lots of family and friends knew that this was a big deal for me and I knew they were sending me good vibes from home so I wanted to do my best.

For the first time in a while, I ran the entire course. Sometimes slowly, other times at a quicker pace. I told myself that if nothing else I would not walk at a race that I had worked so hard to get into. When I finally reached the final quarter mile I had envisioned it to feel differently. Sort of like a victory lap. I mean it was everything I hoped it would be but I was really tired at that point and just wanted to get it done. I crossed the finish line a couple of minutes before the four hour mark. I remember feeling so accomplished and happy.

The line to get out of the corral was packed. Literally, like a tuna can. Imagine it...hundreds of sweaty people rubbing up against each other. As you can imagine, I wanted out of there badly. It felt like an entire mile long. It took a couple of minutes to find where they were handing out space blankets and I wanted one as I was starting to get cold. I was holding my cell phone because I had ran with it the entire way. Not sure why. I didn't even take that many photos. Shortly after crossing the finish line I called my husband to let him know that I had finished sub-4. He was at the finish line waiting for me but he missed when I ran across the finish line. He was standing at the exact spot where that first bomb had gone off...4:09...just minutes after I had crossed. I get so emotional when I think about it. Had I not had my phone with me, he would have still been there waiting for me. And to think that earlier that morning I almost decided to leave my cell phone at the hotel but at the very last moment I picked it up and decided to take it with me. Then again during gear check I was undecided if I should check my phone in or not and again at the last moment I decided to just hold it in my hands.  As I was walking into my corral at the start I thought for a moment how dumb I was to be holding my cell phone the whole way. I guess everything happens for a reason.

When the first explosion went off I was standing at the intersection of St. James and Berkley street. I remember a guy standing near me asking if the noise was fireworks. I wasn't even worried at the point when I should have been. Then the second explosion went off and a bunch of medical personnel rushed past me with wheel chairs. I started to get very frightened as I was still in the barricaded areas and had still not connected with my husband. I kept trying to call him on his cell but the cellular signal was blocked since everyone was on their phone at this point. I finally spotted him at the opposite corner of where I told him I would be waiting for him. As soon as he saw me he said we had to get out of there. He said that something bad had happened and that we could still be in danger. I remember being really scared at that point and told him that I didn't know how to get out of the barricaded area. He told that there wasn't time for me to walk around the barricades so he picked me up and lifted me over the barricades. There was no way I could have climbed out since I was pretty sore. It was chaotic at the scene by this point. Just lots of confused and frightened people crying and scared. We tried to make our way out of the area so that emergency personnel could get through. At that point, we both did not know what had happened or what was going on. Police officers were yelling at people to run away from the area. We had to go a couple of extra miles around the scene to get back to our hotel. I was so sore and cold. When the SWAT team was yelling at us to run away, I could barely do a slow jog. I was so frightened. I was walking slow and trying to jog here and there. We tried to take the subway back but it was shut down almost immediately following the blasts. After walking for a couple of miles we were finally near our hotel. We were not sure if they had barricaded the entire area but eventually we found a side street that lead us back to our hotel. I've never been so happy to get back to a hotel room in my life.  There were SWATs guarding the hotel door. When I finally made it up to my room, I see my sister for the first time since the explosion sitting on her bed watching the news. We were so happy to see each other. My husband had told me that she had gone out for lunch and was planning to stop by the finish line to see me come in. Luckily, she tells me later that when she got to the finish line moments before I was to run through that the crowd was so thick that she could not get anywhere near the finish line so she decided to go shopping in the area instead. When the bombs went off, she immediately headed back to the hotel. I'm so glad. 

Thoughts on April 18, 2013: 
Marathonfoto photos from the Boston Marathon were posted today and they remind me of the carefree moments right before the bombings changed the lives of so many people. What a beautiful day it was! Sunny and just perfect for running. I remember thinking that I should really take advantage of such amazing running weather. It was all so senseless.

That's it! That's the story. Sorry it has taken so long for me to post it. We are all changed because of what happened but we are stronger and even thought this happened a year ago, it will be with me always.

1 comment:

Julie D said...

That recap got me choked up. Still really glad that you guys got out of that okay. Hopefully your memories will be more of the before pictures part than what happened afterward.