STARTING 4/8/17: Six Word Saturday is now being hosted by the lovely Debbie at Travel With Intent. If you aren't already following Debbie, please visit her blog for Six Word Saturday and her beautiful photos. I'll continue to participate from time to time but please go to Debbie's for the official posts.

If you aren't receiving email replies to your comments, please see this post.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A few thoughts on Boston from the wife of a runner

The details emerging from Boston are still jumbled today. They continue to be a mix of horrifying, confusing, and sometimes incorrect. Like the photo of the little girl who was reportedly killed. Or the misreporting of the JFK library fire being connected. I’m glad sorting those details is up to someone else – and I hope they do an amazing job of reaching the proper conclusions, finding the responsible party, and keeping them from doing further harm.

But some things do stand out for me.

The main detail that caught my attention as I read the reports yesterday was this: “The explosions occurred approximately an hour after the first runners crossed the finish line.”

When you’re married to a runner, here’s what you learn from attending race after race after race – elite runners fly like the wind. They finish far ahead of the crowd. Indeed, the winner of the 2013 Boston Marathon finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes. The first female crossed shortly after (2 hours, 26 minutes). These are the people who run for a living. They do this competitively. Running IS their life.

And then there are the “regular” folks. The ones with day jobs. The ones who run as stress relief to survive those day jobs. They run a few miles several times a week or maybe even every day before or after work or on their lunch breaks. They do longer runs on the weekends. Don’t misunderstand me - they’re dedicated, serious runners to be able to run 26.2 miles. I certainly can’t do it. But these are regular people like you and me. Like my husband. A very common goal among this crowd is to finish a marathon in under 4 hours.

As I looked at photos of the finish line, post-explosion, the race clock displayed 4:09:44. At that time, a very steady stream of runners would've been coming through the crowded space. The timing of the explosions probably could not have been much worse.

The second detail sticking in my mind is a quote I read last night summarizing injuries. Apparently because of the nature and placement of the explosive device used, most damages sustained were low to the ground. There were a lot of amputated and severely injured lower limbs on that list.

My husband hasn't been able to run for the past six weeks due to a simple stress fracture. It’s healing well but he’s facing another four weeks without running. I’m not sure anything is more torturous to a runner than not being able to run. Permanent loss of a limb? I can’t imagine.

And the other details emerging from Boston and elsewhere since yesterday’s senseless incident are of another sort – the kind that actually give some feeling of hope. Stories of people helping, whether it’s medical assistance at the scene, offering local help in the form of a place to stay or a warm meal, strangers arranging donations for flight changes, or simple displays of support in the form of tweets or wearing race shirts today.

Those are the details I’m choosing to focus on.

Because I’m the wife of a runner. I've stood at the finish line. I've felt pride for my husband but I've also felt pride for complete strangers. I've also felt concern for other racers I don’t know as they've struggled over the finish line. I've cheered them on. I've cried for them. I've bonded with people I don’t know as we've waited for our racers and cheered for people none of us know. I've offered my phone and water and whatever other help I can in-person at the finish line and my heart is going out to those at the finish line in Boston yesterday.

The running community is tight. They won’t stand for this and they won’t be beaten by it. Joe’s in DC right now and even though he can’t run, he went for a walk on the Mall. There were a lot of runners out. There was a real atmosphere of respect and camaraderie. There were many around the Reflecting Pool. Reflecting. Praying. Talking. Angry. Sad. Hopeful.

I may only be the wife of a runner, but I’m glad to have a place in the community as a supporter. Sometimes it’s a fun role, sometimes it’s not. This is one of those times when it’s not a particularly happy time. But it’s also a time when I witness that spirit that keeps them going as individuals through each run, one foot in front of the other, and as a group, each person supporting the rest as they keep going to reach the finish line.


Melinda said...

It was heartwarming to see so many photos of bystanders bravely and selflessly offering aid to victims. That shows that the persons who did this did not win.

Gail said...

Very well said.

Jeanie said...

The running community is a very tight one. Your well expressed thoughts are, I'm sure, shared by many.

Karen S. said...

A perfect post, and words for such a sad, and horrible happening. God Bless them all and their families. I sure hope they can track down the responsible party to this.

restlessjo said...

Hi Cate. Your post just reached me, over the water, but I found it a compelling read. Just wanted to say thanks.

Mim said...

very good post and you are right, this bomb was set up to cause the most damage to the most people. Horrible horrible horrible!!!

I live in the Boston area and this is a tough town, people will not let this get them down!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Thank you for this perspective. xx

Xiomara | Equis Place said...

Thank you for sharing these heartfelt words.