Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Thoughts on the 2013 Boston Marathon

This was the first year since 2008 that I did not sign up for the Boston Marathon, wanting to give my legs a rest this winter. However, my wife was running for her second time and I woke up early to drop her off at the starting line in Hopkinton.

After going for a morning run, I watched the first hour of the race at home on TV, paying close attention to the elite women, where two Americans had good chances of competing for the win. Then I drove to Mile 17.5 to watch my wife and several friends run by. It was difficult not running, but I was really happy for them, as they got the chance to run on a beautiful day.

After my wife ran by, I drove to Boston and parked in the Boston Common garage. I walked to the intersection of Boylston and Arlington, where she would exit her corral. She had finished the race in 3:30 and we met up around 2:20 p.m. She had been battling a knee injury but was excited. She had run a good time on the course and said the crowds were huge this year, even louder than last year's 88 degree race. She loved going by the college students at Wellesley and said the BC crowds were rambunctious as usual.

A proud finisher when the day was still normal.
We walked into the Public Garden and she put some warmer clothing on. I snapped a few pictures and she proudly wore her 2013 marathon jacket, which had been untouched in a bag until that moment. She was really hungry so we decided to head home and walked to the car.

Then in one moment, everything changed.

As we left Boston (Storrow Drive to 93 South to Mass Pike West), we began seeing police cars, with sirens blazing, driving by us the opposite way. Then we got a text message from a friend: "Are you guys ok?"

At that moment there was an uneasy feeling in my stomach I knew something bad had happened. I turned on the radio and heard the words, "explosion at Marathon Sports." We knew that was the finish line of the marathon and immediately felt sick. We were shocked and in disbelief.

We soon got home and by that time had several texts and phone calls to respond to, letting family and friends know we were safe. I posted a message on Facebook, realizing it was the best way to alert people we were indeed at home. We were very lucky, but couldn't believe what had happened. We turned on the TV and saw the footage, it just didn't seem real.

What's so great about a marathon is that everyone is a winner. Yes, there are elite racers trying to be the first across the line, but everyone else is just as victories. Runners compete against themselves, trying to beat their own personal times. Some just have a goal of finishing the race, or enjoying the the experience and crowds. Marathons are supposed to be a joyous event for everyone - runners and fans - and demonstrate what people can accomplish with hard work and dedication. The Boston Marathon heightens this accomplishment due to it's tough qualification standards and rich history.

It is awful - to the point where words can't describe - what happened yesterday. I think it's impossible not to have a pit in your stomach, knowing that people are hurt or did not survive the violence. It will take a long time for things to return to normal. There will probably always be an strange, uncomfortable feeling when I walk down Boylston Street or go into Marathon Sports.

Police outside the Old State House on Tuesday.
Today while walking through Boston on my way to and from work, I saw police with dogs, armed officers and military. It's  strange and uncomfortable feeling that we are not supposed to experience, and I'm not sure if it makes me feel more or less safe.

While families of the victims are forever affected, my hope is that yesterday's events won't take away from the joy that occurs every year on Patriot's Day for the city. The day is supposed to be a celebration for the city and people around the world who come to Boston that weekend. It's filled with excitement, joy and all types of emotions. This will certainly be true moving forward, but sadness and reflection will also be part of those feelings in the future.

When registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon opens this fall I will be signing up right away. With a sense of pride for our city, I will run the 26.2 miles with thousands of other runners and look forward to seeing people line the streets and show their support for the runners, the city and the victims. I'm sure there will be a wide range of emotions for people running and watching the marathon and it will be a powerful demonstration that we will not be made afraid and will not live in fear.

We will cross the finish line safely.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fools Dual Half Marathon Recap

Since I decided not to run the Boston Marathon this year, I was looking for a half marathon right before the race, and laded on the Fools Dual Half Marathon, which took place in Gloucester and Rockport, MA. I hadn't run a race in that area before but it's supposed to be beautiful, so I decided to give it a try.

It was a nice and crisp morning, very good for running. The race was fairly low key, with a little bit more than 500 runners. The race began quite slow - which was a surprise. Usually people sprint at the beginning, but this group didn't make that mistake. The course was an out and back along the northern side of Gloucester and Rockport, with beautiful views of the ocean, inlets and houses lining the streets. It was also really, really hilly. The entire thing was rolling hills. It was up, down, up, down - with no flat surface at all. The wind was also very rough on the way back, but it was still a lot of run to run. I ended up finishing in third place, so during the second half of the run many of the other runners were cheering us on (the benefits of an out and back course).

If I'm not running Boston next year, I'd definitely consider doing it again. But I'd have to make sure I do some hill workouts beforehand.