Monday, August 26, 2013

The Day of Heartbreak - Boston 2013 Part V

I begin running, marginally faster and for slightly longer periods. When I am forced to walk I keep a decent pace, I don't recall us stopping much for the debilitating cramping. We still have a few miles to the Citgo sign, but I know we will get a glimpse of it soon. This is my next small goal, to see that historic sign and run to it. To run up that hill Jason so often crested, to then know we'd have one more mile to go. The last mile and 385 yards.

Randy has told us the temperature often drops as runners head into Boston past Heartbreak Hill and today it is definitely true. We soon pull our gloves back on as we feel the chillier air. Given my slow pace, my sweat production is almost nil. I am starting to cool and look forward each time I can run to generate a little heat in my misfiring engine.

It is a long, slow slog toward Mile 25 and I try not to think about how far we have to go, only keeping watch for the famous sign. The Sign. And then after this long struggle, in the distance, it is there, still far away, but there and visible. I will finish this race.

I push on, trying not to think too much, just keep moving, closer to The Sign.

Evil has struck. We have not heard it. I am thinking I hope I can run up the overpass when we reach it, to not have to walk the incline. In thinking back I might have heard it, but I cannot say with certainty.

And then we are there, the foot of the overpast with Mile 25 mere yards away. I try to run up this short incline, thinking of Jay being here, of us being here, his brother Randy with us, guiding us to the finish. I cannot do it, my leg twinges and I walk.

I think of Jay, of him running with only his left foot, being at this very place. He is here. Mike, Randy, Jay and I crest the bridge together.

Our brother, The Greatest
And then, just like that, we make a right on Commonwealth, one mile to go. One mile. One more mile. I want to run, in my mind I want to be flying, picking up the pace, heading for home. I cannot do it.

I think ahead, of an underpass, at some point, a right turn. Hereford. A short straight. A left. Onto Boylston. I leg will probably cramp. How will it be? How will it feel? How will it really be...? Those crowds. This day that was never to be. Glorious it shall be.

It will be...a day like no other.


I have not been able to write this part for a long time. I have started, sometimes just opening the post to look at it and close it, other times to write a few words and stop again....

Ahead it seems the road is more congested, are the crowds pushing onto the course? I have been running bent at the waist, generally not looking too far in front of me, and when I look up it makes no sense. We slow. The screams of the spectators grow quieter.

We all walk and then come to a stop. For a moment I think there has been some sort of accident, perhaps a runner has died on the course, something Jennifer and I have seen happen.

It makes no sense for the entire road to be blocked...what....

Sirens. Helicopters. I recall someone saying the race has been will not be restarted...there has been a bombing....people are dead...did I hear two people? A man shows us a pic on his cell phone, seems like gray dust is everywhere but I only get a glimpse of the finish line area on the tiny screen.

I curse. I am angry. How can this be? There is no way this should happen, be allowed to happen. Not today. Not at this race. I curse and curse and crazily apologize for my words. Scott appears and then heads off to find a ride to the hospital, saying his legs were hurting.

The sky is so blue. The day, beautiful. 

I must call Jennifer and tell her I am okay. I fumble with my phone and try to call but no connection. My battery is in the red zone despite being fully charged in the morning. I managed to get one text out.

"I am ok."

What I was saying was:

"I am not hurt."

And later:

"I am not dead."

Others were.

Krystle Campbell.

Martin Richard.

Lu Lingzi.


I sit on the curb when the chill overtakes me and start to shiver, I try to stop but can't. Randy gives me the long sleeve shirt off his back and insists I take it. I am so cold that I put up little resistance and accept the gift.

I think about Kelly as the impact of what has happened seeps into my brain. I begin to worry about her, hoping she has finished and is not hurt. It does not occur to me that she might have been waiting at the finish line for us. What about Janelle? And Kim? Could Jennifer and the family possibly gotten transportation to see me finish? No....that just can't be. Can't be.

Randy and Mike try to make phone calls, Randy is able to talk to his wife. A volunteer comes by with water. I am not afraid. And the thought does not come to me that I have not crossed the finish line.

Our locations when we stopped


We finally are directed to continue down the opposite side of Commonwealth to get back to the hotel. We were unable to find our gear bags after many bus drivers abandoned their stations; I overheard they had instructions to never do this, but given what happened I suppose they had personal reasons for doing so.

Back at the hotel I agree to give a phone interview to a local tv reporter, thinking it may ease some minds since it has been hard to make cell calls. I am not able to say a proper goodbye to Randy or Ashley or many others who came by our room after the race, but I was so happy when Kelly first appeared and gave me a crushing hug.

Everyone we know is safe. Alive. Intact. Janelle had left the finish line to go charge her phone, and Kim left to do some work seeing my pace had slowed.

So many stories of what-if. Too many of why.


On the way home Jennifer tries to talk to me...I begin but find I cannot speak as I am overcome with what happened to the victims, the lives lost, the bodies torn apart, the bravery of those who ran to their aid. All of it and the immensity of allowed evil. All of it seems bursting in my heart and I cannot go on.

As we land and make our way to baggage claim, we see a television crew staked out near a door. I quickly exit to the bathroom, remove the jacket I had thought I'd never wear and stuff it away in my laptop bag. I will not be able to talk about this.

And many days I still cannot. 

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