I ran Boston in 2008 and 2010. Before I ran it in 2008, I found an online forum of runners who were running Boston and had run it previously. Through reading that forum (never posting myself), I learned everything I needed to know about the whole weekend -- when to get there, where to stay, when to go to the Expo, where to eat, etc. It was a wonderful resource.
Though I qualified at the 2008 race for the 2009 race, a late fall injury prevented me from running Boston in 2009. I requalified and registered for 2010, this time dragging my running partner into it as well. I went back to the online forum, and this time, began posting and getting to know the other runners on it.
Going to Boston in 2010 was very different than in 2008, because this time, I knew the routine, I had my running partner with me and I "knew" other runners in it. It was my best marathon ever -- my best experience and my personal record. And I didn't know it at the time, but it turned out to be my last marathon, as well.
This group of runners from this forum had an after-race party at a bar near Boston Common. I dragged my husband to go meet these people whom I had been conversing with on the forum. He was wary, but when I got there, it was like a big family reunion. I met in person the greatest group of people who I am proud to call friends. Since then, many have become dear friends, and I have run Reach the Beach New Hampshire with some of them.
Though Boston 2010 was my last time there, my heart has always been on the course from Hopkinton to Boston every Patriot's Day since. I am thankful that it is available online, as I have watched the live feed every year, sometimes shedding a tear or two, but mostly happy for my friends and excited to see how well they did.
This year, I watched the live feed of the race, then was checking Facebook periodically to see how these friends did. I loved seeing the photos of the smiling faces during the race and seeing awesome PRs set on what was a perfect day for running. I was so happy for everyone.
After lunch I got an email from my husband with a one-sentence news brief about a bombing in Boston at the finish line. I immediately got back on Facebook, where a local friend who is also part of the group had started a thread asking members of our group to check in and let us know they were safe. I have never felt the way I did over those next two hours. I was sick with worry, particularly for those friends who I knew were 4+-hour marathoners. I felt sick. How could someone ruin such a wonderful day and wonderful event with bombs at the finish line?
I talked to my husband, who reminded me that we stood at the finish line for a few hours for the 2008 Women's Olympic Marathon Trials. We were in a huge crowd, with 20 people deep behind us. We were in the same situation as those who were killed and injured by the blasts. We shopped at the Marathon Sports store that had its windows blown out.
When I got home from work Monday, I saw that my first tulip had bloomed during the day. Ironically, it was Boston yellow- a bright spot in a dark day.
A few minutes after I got home, the postman pulled up and gave me a package. Inside, was a gift from one of the dear friends I have made from my group:
My heart aches— for Boston; for the Boston Athletic Association, which is a class act all the way, putting on the greatest marathon on Earth that brings in people from all over the world; for the families of those killed, injured, maimed and forever scarred; for the 23,000+ runners who had their memories of this wonderful day forever marred by these heinous acts; and for 100 or so special runners whom I am proud to call friends, whose hearts were broken and lives were forever changed.
However, I am thankful that they have each other, and I can only pray that they will rely on each other for support over the coming days, weeks and months, as they grapple with grief, loss, anger, and the range of emotions that will impact them.
I don't know how this all will unfold. But I know a few things:
1. Runners are resilient. This horrible tragedy will not prevent the Boston Marathon from continuing its wonderful tradition on Patriot's Day. If anything, it will make us stronger.
2. I am proud to be a runner and to be part of this community.
3. God is still on the throne. We may never know why this happened until we get Home, but God is still in control.
All in for Boston.