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.
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.