The Boston Marathon
I thought I would share something that Jessica wrote about her experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon:
Monday started out as such a glorious day…one of my dreams was finally coming true. I would be running the Boston Marathon, something that I had worked toward for the last 2 years. If you don’t know the Boston Marathon it is not just any marathon, it’s the only marathon that you actually have to qualify for by running another marathon under a certain time. I was thrilled to have made it this far, especially with my husband being diagnosed with a brain tumor a year and a half ago followed by a year of chemo as well as dealing with some of my own personal issues. What made it all the better was I had no expectation or pressure of finishing in a certain time. All I wanted to do was enjoy the race, to soak it all in, to run this race for my husband who always believed I could make it to Boston.
It was also exciting to me that it would be my 10th marathon. And the race was amazing!! Hundreds of thousands of people lined every inch of every street along the whole 26.2 miles course. By the end of the race I must have literally high-fived hundreds of people. I had also written my name down both sides of my arms so as I was high-fiving complete strangers they were also yelling my name. There were kids all along the course handing out orange slices, licorice, and lemonade. I ran past one family that had set up a trampoline on their front porch and they were all jumping on it with pom-poms while blasting music. There were blind runners, runners with artificial legs, there were runners pushing people in wheelchairs. At mile 15 I ran past Rick and Dick Hoyt. If you don’t know who they are, this is the father who pushes his fully grown son, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair. This was their 31st Boston marathon and their 70th overall marathon. It was so inspiring to see them running. I remember thinking, if that dad can push his son 26.2 miles then I can run it with my cramping quads. I saw military men and women dressed in their full fatigues carrying 60 pound packs up heartbreak hill. A number of high school bands were playing in full uniform as well as African drummers drumming, and a bagpiper piping. People had written messages in chalk all along the course and had drawn big hearts up heartbreak hill. Each mile went by so quickly because there was so much to see and take in. And whenever I felt like my legs could not go another step I just kept repeating the verse “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength” and somehow God gave me the strength to keep going.
Just before mile 26 I ran past my parents and my friend Stef who had come all the way across the country to cheer me on. They were screaming my name as I rounded the corner onto Boylston Street and could see the finish line. The cheers coming from the crowds that last .2 miles was deafening. I had tears of joy running down my eyes as I ran past the flags representing all the runners from all the different countries and past the grandstands which were filled with cheering spectators. As exhausted as I was I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air feeling one of the most elated feelings I have ever felt. Not because I had gotten my second fastest marathon time, but because I had actually just achieved my dream of running the Boston Marathon.
The first thing I did when I finished was pull my phone out of my armband to text my husband that I had finished and to my surprise he had already texted to say congratulations, that he loved me, and was so proud of me. He had been tracking my progress on the computer and knew that I had just finished. I was then funneled through the recovery area with hundreds of other runners. I was given Gatorade, water, bagels, bananas, one of those silver hot dog wrap blankets, which I was very thankful for, as I had gone very quickly from being pretty hot to being extremely cold. I was also handed my finishers medal…my medal of honor. At the next block were the lines of buses carrying everyone’s gear bags that they had dropped off at the start of the race. I got my bag and was just about to start heading to the family meeting area when the girl next to me asked if she could lean on me for support to get her sweatpants on. We congratulated each other on the race, introduced ourselves to each other, her name was Amy, and then I asked where she was from, and out of the thousands of runners from all over the world, she was from Bellingham, WA. We had an instant connection. I then asked if she would take a picture of me. She took the picture with my phone and we were just turning to head to the family meeting area where I would meet up with my parents and my friend Stef when all the joy and celebration of the day turned to tragedy and chaos.
We heard this incredibly loud boom that actually shook the ground we were standing on. I could tell it had come from back toward the finish line, about a block and a half away. My first thought was that they were setting off fireworks or a cannon in celebration of the marathon. I remember looking up in the sky to see if I could see any fireworks. It was also then that I saw the white smoke billowing up back at the finish line. I still thought it might be a cannon. Then the second explosion went off and another white plume of smoke. That was when somebody near me said “that’s not suppose to happen.” Then someone else nearby said, “I think those were bombs, we need to all get out of here.” Amy and I stood there for a moment in shock and then I just started to pray knowing that my parents and friend might have been walking down toward the finish line to meet me in the family meeting area and could have been right where the bombs went off. I immediately texted them asking if they were okay. It was such an answer to pray and such a relief to get a text back almost immediately that they were okay and making their way to the family meeting area. I then texted my husband and said 2 bombs just went off at the finish line, but I’m okay. I didn’t want him to hear about it from someone else or on the news and then not know if I was alright. I then gave my phone to Amy so that she could try to get a hold of her husband, but she couldn’t get through to him. We slowly made our way through the masses of crowds to get to the family meeting area. The looks on everyone’s face was of complete and utter shock and confusion. I just kept praying not knowing if another bomb might go off anywhere at anytime. We finally made it to where Amy was suppose to meet her husband, but he wasn’t there. She tried again on my phone to contact him, but there was no response. I was so torn about whether I stay with her or go on to make sure my parents and friend were safe.
I even tried calling my dad and my friend to see if they could come down and meet me where we were standing, but I couldn’t get through to them. We hugged each other thinking that would be the last time I would see her, but she found me on Facebook the following day to let me know that she had reunited with her husband. I believe God brought her and I together at that time to be a support to one another and I am so thankful that he did. After I left Amy I continued to hobble down the street as fast as my sore legs could go and all I could think about was getting to my parents and friend. My battery on my phone was almost dead and I was so worried that I would get to our meeting spot and they wouldn’t be there and if my phone died I wouldn’t be able to contact them. I was never so relieved to finally spot them under the letter H sign. I had been holding it together up until then, but when my dad came up and hugged me we both just lost it and started crying. It was such a relief to be reunited with my family and I think my dad hugged me for almost 2 minutes before letting go. We eventually made it back to our hotel after walking past many buildings that had been evacuated. I was worried ours would be one of them, but fortunately it was not. When we got to the room we turned on the tv to be shocked even more at the devastation that happened in a place that I had run passed less than 20 minutes before. I just started to cry all over again.
Information slowly started to come in about the number of deaths, the number and severity of injuries, and the number of devastated runners who were never able to finish the race. I thought about the 8 year old boy who lost his life, how if my kids were there that could have been my 8 year old boy. I thought about the 29 year old girl who also lost her life, how that could have been my 29 year old friend who was near the finish line cheering me on. I went through so many emotions that afternoon and evening as well as the last couple of days. I am so thankful that everyone I personally knew in Boston was safe and unharmed, but I am so sad not only for those that lost their lives or were severely injured by this horrible tragedy, but also for those that had the same dream as me and were not able to finish the race. To me running and my relationship with Christ have so much in common. They both bring such joy to my life. They both are my constant when everything else in life doesn’t make sense. This tragedy doesn’t make sense to me, but I do believe that God can use this tragedy for good. I’ve heard numerous stories of courageous people running toward the bomb blast to help those that were injured. I’ve heard about people literally giving the shirt off their back to a stranded runner who wasn’t able to finish the race and was now freezing cold. The people who did this wanted to turn a day that was suppose to be triumphant into a day of tragedy, but I believe that God has and will use this tragedy to show that good will always prevail over evil. I continue to pray for those that lost their lives, I pray for their families, I pray for all those that were injured and for their loved ones, and I pray for those that weren’t able to finish the race…how grateful they must feel to be okay, but how discouraging it must also feel to not have finished. I also pray for the people who did this horrible act of violence. I pray that they are brought to justice, but I also pray for their salvation. I will not allow their evil acts to take away from the joy I felt on Monday running the Boston Marathon.
Jess at the Expo prior to the race
The finish line two days before the Race
The finish line two days prior, nearby the location of the bombs.
Post race Picture taken by Amy minutes before the Explosion