Yesterday evening we began an email discussion among all the Salty Running bloggers to try to figure out what to say. We wanted to talk among ourselves first, to try to figure out what the right thing was. We learned we are all deeply affected and saddened by the bombing. We learned we are all motivated to show the good that comes from running.
We learned that we felt a lot better after reading what the others had to say.
So instead of releasing some canned statement, we invite you into our discussion. Where were you when it happened? How did you react? Were all your runners okay? How about anyone else you know who was there?
Here are some of our thoughts, please share some of yours below them.
We’ll start with the only one of us who was there. Clove:
Our room was on the 34th floor of the Westin Copley Plaza. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know how excited I was about the amazing river view upgrade we got when we checked in. We had the most tremendous view of Boylston right from our 34th floor room: the final stretch, the finish line, the finish chute. We had discussed how much fun it would be to hang out after our showers and watch the late finishers from our perch above.
Instead, I was in an elevator bank during the explosion, while DB was simultaneously yanking clothes on after hearing the first explosions. He didn’t even know where he was going, only that the finish line had just exploded and I wasn’t in the room yet. When the elevator doors opened to his face, there was this split second where I thought he was meeting me to tell me of his sub-3 triumph – but in that split second, he literally grabbed me out of the elevator, wrapped his arms around me, and started guiding me to the room with the words, “the finish line was bombed about two minutes ago …”
He spoke to me so gently, as if I were a small child and he didn’t know how to explain it. He would later tell me he was still in shock and trying to make sense of it himself.
My husband and I were safe, and we slowly located our friends and their families. Yes, I had a very personal experience, but these are not the images that stick out. To me, the image that sticks out is the yellow jackets.
When I first got to the room and ran to the window, the scene below was still immediate chaos. Runners were literally sprinting through and around the finish area. It was an absolutely frantic scene, clouded over by bomb smoke and punctuated by sirens. But the yellow jackets – they stayed. They didn’t run. They tore up the finish line as quickly as they could. They carried runners in their arms and acted as human crutches. I saw tiny runners collapse into their arms and they stood still and held them. They tore down fencing and scaffolding to open the area up to allow people to move more quickly. They were on the ground over broken and injured bodies. They ran back and forth from the medical tent, bringing bags of ice and supplies, pushing empty and full wheelchairs, doing whatever it was that needed to be done.
They, too, had families to call. They, too, were in a dangerous and unsecured crime scene. And when they heard the third blast, they STILL stayed.
The enduring image of the Boston Marathon for me will forever be of the very first responders: the Boston Marathon volunteers, the yellow jackets who stared fear and evil in the eye and vowed that no matter what, they would not run.
To honor them, we must follow their example. We cannot run. And for us, that means that we must RUN ON.
We can feel the fear, but we cannot run.
Instead, we must RUN ON.
More thoughts after the jump.
Salty: I woke up from a nap yesterday. I clicked the coffee on and jumped over to the computer to check on my last Boston runners who hadn’t finished when I laid down, but instead I heard the news. The horrible horrible news.
Boston was bombed. Our Boston was attacked. I frantically searched Facebook friends’ pages to make sure they were ok. All my friends are accounted for, thank goodness! But many, 150+, aren’t. An 8 year-old boy waiting for his dad to finish! NO! This isn’t fair. This is wrong, so wrong.
I look over at my little spectators. It could have been them cheering me on as I chase these silly dreams of mine. It could have been any of our loved ones who give of themselves to support this hobby, no this life of ours. I guess that’s what makes me angriest. This was an attack on living and loving.
And the weird thing is, these attacks don’t make me or anyone else want to live or love less. Oh no! Instead, it highlights the zest for life we runners have and how much running enriches our lives and the lives of those we love. Run on!
Pepper: I don’t know what to “share” for some reason this really hit me hard. Perhaps because for the past 8 years this has been a sort of running pilgrimage for me. Perhaps because I know so many there. Perhaps because many friends and families first thought when they heard of the horrific occurrence was to check on me. For whatever reason it hit me hard and I am very saddened that some maniac took what should be a celebration of all that is running and turned it into a horrible tragedy.
Vanilla: I really don’t know what to say either. I have lots of questions and anger. I just keep believing that good prevails over evil and that this bastard or bastards have messed with the wrong crowd. We are a strong, spirited and kind group of people who won’t be taken down by a coward. My stomach has been upset all day, but my heart warms when I read stories of those who without a flinch, helped in some way.
I am also more determined now to get to Hopkinton next year!!!
Mint: Every year, Marathon Monday is an exciting day for me. If I am not toeing the line in Hopkinton, I am eagerly glued to my computer screen watching the elite race unfold and cheering for all of my friends who have made it to the world’s most prestigious road race. When they cross the finish line with a great race, my heart celebrates for them. When I see their race was a rough one, my heart breaks for them. The Boston course is hard, and you never know what might unfold after months – if not years – of hard work to get there. Yesterday was no different and I was like a kid in a candy store all morning. A few of my friends had amazing races, a few had heartbreak. But then the news flashed that there were explosions at the finish and I was rocked to my core. I couldn’t tear myself away from the media coverage. I e-mailed and texted my friends to try to ensure they were okay. I checked Facebook constantly watching for friends to check in and tell me they were okay.
Fortunately, all of my friends are safe. A couple were a little too close to the terrorist attack and are now – quite understandably – traumatized. While I was not there, I feel shaken, weepy and angry as well. This was not only an attack on America, but also on our amazing community, who is known for coming together, supporting one another, encouraging one another, and sharing the road for the sake of all of our well-beings.
Like many runners, I am choosing to focus on the positives. On what the Boston Marathon really is. It is not terrorism. It is hard work, pride, respect, humility, appreciation, and a great sense of community. I was saddened that when I told my sons about the attacks and they both told me they were afraid to run in their upcoming 5k races. I told them we will not allow cowardly, evil individuals ruin our sport, ruin our community. We will run. We will run proudly. We will not be afraid.
My heart goes out to all of those who were in Boston yesterday or affected by this cruel act of terrorism – particularly those who were hurt or lost loved ones. I can’t help but feel a painful sting when I read about the 8 year old boy who died near the finish line. Last time I ran Boston, my son was 8. He, my 7 year-old son, my husband, and my mother-in-law all stood in the same area proudly watching me cross that line. It is unimaginable to me that yesterday’s race ended the way it did for that family. I pray for all of them that they can somehow find peace.
But I also feel great pride and appreciation for all of those who stepped up and helped. I am so grateful and humbled by all of the friends and family members who reached out to me to make sure I was okay and to let me know that they loved me. Courage and love always prevails over hatred.
Espresso: I have received, literally, hundreds of messages and have been completely overwhelmed today [April 15]. Some have been from people who thought I was in Boston and were worried. Other messages telling me that there was a reason I wasn’t there (which I think is complete hooey). Still others were telling me they were thankful I wasn’t there; and all I kept thinking was My god–I want to be there! I know that’s nuts, but that’s how I felt. based on the timing of the blasts and others who were starting around the same time as me, I would have most certainly been in the finish area at the time of the blast.
Right now I’m still processing stuff. And perhaps I will have something cogent to say tomorrow – but for now, it’s a scrambled mess. So many friends are there. I am not.
Licorice: The first I heard was when my husband and another friend texted me asking if I knew about it. It’s completely surreal to me that something like this could happen, and it makes me sad that what should have been a day of celebration for so many people has been turned into something else.
Cinnamon: I returned to the set of my new job around 3:45 from a lunch of ice cream and espresso with a coworker, and overheard one of the grips say, “No really, there was a bomb at the finish line.” My heart sank.
I’d been purposefully waiting until I got home to read any news of the race, but now I snatched my iPhone out of my pocket to start making calls. Even in New York City the phones were down and I couldn’t get through. I had the good sense to get on Facebook, where every single runner and spectator I knew was in Boston had posted something. They were all safe. Thank goodness.
After a moment of relief I started wondering, what happens now? Will people blame us? Will they decry our races as dangerous? Will they try to enforce ridiculous, 1984-style regulation on us? Will we have to pass through metal detectors to get into the corrals? Be prohibited from bringing our own water? Will our family members have to pass through security checks to collect our tired and broken bodies when the race is over? Or worst of all, will people be afraid to run?
I’m heartbroken for the victims and their loved ones, especially those of the deceased, and I’m heartbroken for the running community in Boston, that they have to shoulder the weight of this having happened at their most celebratory event. And I’m ready to be an ambassador of my sport, and continue showing its positive, uplifting power to those who might limit it.
Coriander: I was at work when I saw a post from a friend who had just gotten his drop bag back when it happened. And after I learned more from customers and friends, selling expensive clothes just seemed so insignificant and I had a hard time getting through the rest of my shift.
Today when I left my apartment for my morning run, my neighbor’s paper was open on her doorstep. Seeing the image on the front page with the bold headline was a shock, it seemed more real and it’s all I could think about during my run. As the sun came up, I’m reminded how life is a gift and I’m so grateful all of us and our loved ones are safe and we can lace up our shoes and run another day.
Sassafras: Sending love to all of you.
This hit me hard, too. I had been following Craig Leon on Twitter (Yay! OU alum in the top 10!), and all of a sudden [the feed] went from his post-race celebratory stuff to a re-tweet about explosions. Unreal.
Thankfully my friends who were running it are all okay. One had finished just minutes before the first explosion, and as she said, so many little things impact your marathon time on any day. Thank goodness she had that little extra speed.
I am not really even sure how I feel about running a marathon on Saturday.
Cilantro: I am so deeply saddened by this tragedy, but amazed again by the solidarity of Americans and runners. Yesterday I was asked by one of my more insensitive friends if I still wanted to qualify for Boston, and the answer is yes! I am more determined to qualify now then I have ever been. To me, it’s even more important that we don’t let terrorists win and run!
Ginkgo: I’m so very thankful to be a part of this beautiful running community of Salty Runners. Reading through your comments restores my faith in humanity and all of the good people out there. It’s just what I needed this morning after feeling sick and sorry yesterday, questioning if I ever even want to bring children into this sick world.
When I heard of the news I kept having flashbacks of my finishes at Boston in 2008, 2009 and 2010, that last mile, with the crowds and the indescribable support and the feeling of extreme accomplishment. All the sweat, tears and hours of training were instantly worth it and having my family at that finish line to hug will always be one of the best, more memorable moments in my life. To think of the runners who were barricaded off at mile 24 yesterday, a mere 2 miles from crossing that line that meant so much, that meant they accomplished the “holy grail” of all marathons, only to find out that a bomb went off in the area where so many of their loved ones were standing and waiting to share in the joy…. I just can’t even imagine the utter fear, horror and feelings of helplessness.
Runners are some of the best, most caring people that I know. To have this happen to such a community is a tragedy. I heard a story about runners who finished the 26.2 and continued to run to the hospital to immediately donate blood to those affected….this, in a nutshell, is what runners are about.