When we were rushed off the subway at Arlington Station, we didn’t really know there was anything wrong.
There were cops – but it was the Boston Marathon – there are bound to be cops. It wasn’t until we heard people murmuring something about an explosion. I just remember thinking, “Stop saying that! You’re really going to freak people out!” It’s not something to joke about, and since we didn’t see anything of course we didn’t think anything had happened. We walked out into the Commons area and that’s when the text messages started coming in.
“Are you okay?!”
My text response: “What happened?”
Of course, cell reception was pretty spotty, so that message didn’t go through for another ten minutes or so. In the meantime I tried to get ahold of Sam. After a couple minutes the call went through and he told us that he’d found Danielle and they’d both meet us in the family meeting area, underneath the J.
After my “What happened?” text went through a friend of mine responded: “Two explosions at the finish line. No more details yet or number of injuries.”
When we got off the subway it didn’t seem like many people knew much about what had happened. People were everywhere, but no one seemed particularly rushed. We managed to get to the family meeting area. We walked around Boston Common right outside of the Arlington Station until we could figure out which way to head.
The picture above gives you an idea of where everything went down. The red is where the finish line was, and where the bombs went off. The black is where Sam and Danielle were (or at least where Sam was) when the bomb went off. I don’t think he was with her when it happened. The blue is where we were rushed off of the T, texted and called until we found out where to meet Sam, and then headed for the finishers area (black circle). We were actually probably between the Red and Blue circles when the bombs went off, since we were stuck underground on the T for at least 20 minutes before they rushed us off.
After we met with Sam & Danielle we knew we wanted to get out of Boston, and we also didn’t want Danielle to have to walk too terribly far, cause those blisters were ridiculous.
As we walked to the T station we walked by a bar that had coverage of the bombings on TV. Quite a few passersby stopped to see – that was our first glimpse of the coverage everyone else had already seen. Fortunately, we didn’t see what was at the finish line.
That night, we talked a lot about what had happened at the finish line. It was hard to fathom that someone could do such a thing – and especially that we were so close to actually experiencing it ourselves. And while, no, we weren’t at the finish line – it did color our experience of the marathon itself. Yes, we still had a great time, but there’s no person who hasn’t asked about the bombing.
I feel bad.
For the victims, obviously. There are no words.
For the runners who didn’t finish. All those hours, probably years, of training for such a momentous event.
For the runners who did finish, who instead of simply celebrating their accomplishment, now have that shadow hanging over the day.
But I also feel inspired by what I saw afterwards. The running community really is an amazing thing to be a part of. If you’ve ever taken part in a run, whether it was a local 5k, 10k, a half-marathon, triathlon, duathlon, marathon, ultramarathon, you name it – there’s something special about the community of runners. Some of them are ridiculously competitive. Some of them just run so they can keep moving. But whatever their abilities, they’re all together when it really matters. They cheer each other on. They support each other. They offer advice. They raise money for local charities – I’m sure the actual amount of money raised through 5ks every year in the United States is insane.
A lot of people are nervous to participate in an organized run for the first time. I’ve heard many times that they don’t think they can finish, or that they are worried about how slow they are. Let me tell you right now, no one cares. Runners (or at least all runners I’ve met) run against themselves. And you? They’d love you to join them!
So if the bombings at Boston have had an impact on me, I’d say they’ve made me more determined to get back to running consistently. And when those runs are hard – because no matter what, part of that first mile is always hard – I think about Boston, and all of those runners who didn’t finish, or won’t run again. I’m not just running for me anymore – when runs are tough, I’m running for them. Because I can.