My very dear friend Stacy has shared her feelings about Boston. I thought Stacy’s account of what happened was very well written, and described the experience just as I would have. I want people to hear her story and experience, because through this I have found that the more blogs and stories I read that I can relate to, the better I feel.
Stacy is the reason why I ran Boston in 2013. She inspired me to become a marathoner the day I watched her run the Chicago marathon in 2010. On April 15th, 2013, Stacy, Diana and I crossed the finish line holding hands as happy as could be. We had never run a race side by side the entire time, but for this race that had always been the plan. And I am so thankful that we were able to experience it all together.
This is Stacy’s story.
I am not a blogger or even a good picture taker anymore, but wanted to write
down my thoughts while they are still raw and engraved in my head. Getting to
Boston is a journey. It’s not something that happens over night. I got to
share this event with Ali and Diana. However, this is my second Boston
Marathon and nothing can compete with your first. I thoroughly enjoyed
watching them enjoy their very first magical Boston.
Because I knew what to expect I can tell you that things were smooth and
normal. We walked about a mile to yellow school buses and waited for about
an hour. We rode on the bus for another hour. We arrived to Athletes Village
and quickly moved another mile into the start area. We took a moment to sit
on our blanket and get prepared for the race. We eagerly lined up in Diana’s
corral. We were each in different corrals, but had a pact so share this
moment together no matter what. No solider left behind was our motto. Silly
girls, but we meant it. I was thankful for that because this solider had some
tired legs early on.(The next wave back would have placed us in harm’s way
or we would have been pulled off the course.)
We started the race like clockwork and ran taking in every mile of Boston.
My race was hard. Diana and Ali were soaking it and I was containing any
negative thoughts of my tired legs or the fear I had of the Newton Hills to
come. We made it all the way up Heartbreak Hill without even realizing it.
Diana lead the way while Ali and I followed. At that point I knew I could
make it in under 4 hours. This was a mental barrier I needed to break after
my last Boston in 09.
The girls teased me because the oddly quiet Stacy became positive and secure
at mile 24. I knew the crowds would get even bigger, louder and that I was
about to share a part of history with two of my closest friends. At mile 25 I
said, “Ladies, enjoy this last mile together because it may be the last time
we share a marathon where the three of us run side by side!” I became the
cheerleader for my two Boston first timers after they had encouraged me for
most of the race. I apologized for being the tired solider and they looked at
me and said, “You are why we are here!”
We ran down Boylston Street side by side and hand in hand at the finish. The
race was finally over. We just completed the Boston Marathon together! Our
clock time was 3:54:35. We took our time getting our medals, photos, and foil
blankets. Our legs heavy and minds eager to find our family. Jeff was our
point man for the family reunion. That was his job and he did it well. He
spotted us and quickly help Di and Ali find Lee, Ramsey, Mark and Nancy. It
felt great to hug him and be with our group again. We got on our warm clothes
and started taking some pictures to capture our accomplishment.
Suddenly, a loud explosion occurred.
Later we were able to see that the clock time was 4:09 when the bombs went off. About 15 minutes after our finish.
Our clock time read 4:00 despite our chip time of 3:54:35. My
heart sank and I felt confused. We looked for excuses and Di of course had an
answer. Must be part of the celebration. Ten seconds later a second
explosion occurred. My eyes began to water and I prayed immediately for God
to allow me to make it home safely to my son Caden. I had no idea what was
going on, but feared that if there were two explosions there could be many
more. The thoughts of 9/11 rushed into my head and again I just prayed that
we could get home safe. Please God let me get to raise my son. Those were
the thoughts in my head. Our group was scared, but fairly calm.
Our goal was to stay together. The guys were problem solving and I was
following. I wanted to call my mom and tell her I was safe. After much
confusion and a lot of wandering we made it back to the hotel. It was if the
pain from the race was erased and we were in fight or flight mode. Making it
back to the hotel felt safe, but we were evacuated soon after. We were still
in shock so somehow this seemed ok. Just a normal procedure. We followed
directions and left. It was one of those moments where you think what should
I take. I grabbed my ID, credit cards, phone and wedding ring. This sounds
awful, but I wanted to have my ID on me in case something really bad happened
and someone needed to know who I was. Yes, I panic and think of the worst
sometimes, but this was like nothing I have ever experienced.
We headed out to the streets and were asked to move further and further back.
I still didn’t recognize the depth of all that was going on until sitting
outside in my sweaty race clothes and realizing that we no longer had the
luxuries of a shower, toilet, food or security. This sounds shallow, but we
hadn’t eaten since 9 AM. I hated to worry about that kind of stuff knowing
lives had been lost and that an act of terrorism had occurred. The unknown
and the inability to fix a situation and no control are very overwhelming.
The phone rang with calls from the media. It was crazy to think people were
wanting to talk to us. I talked to a former high school classmate from the LS
Journal. As I am on the phone with him I see Special Operations, HAZ MAT, the
bomb squad and countless police and emergency vehicles swarming by our hotel.
We stayed in the Copley Square Hotel which was being searched and was now
being called part of a possible crime scene. The FBI is on the streets, men in
army fatigues….. This was very scary.
We were given blankets by strangers on the streets. Our group of 8 debated on
what to do, where to go. That quote about how you respond in a crisis can
identify your true character kept running through my head. I just kept
thanking those that were kind to us. Eventually we were welcomed into a home
of a perfect strangers. Feeling very skeptical I was hoping she really was a
good person. You hate to go there, but like I said I do over think at times.
She was amazing. Offered us drinks and snacks. Very humbled by her kindness.
We were able to contact our hotel and return at about 7:30. I am a little
foggy on time. We finally got a hot shower and got to eat about 9:00 PM.
It’s the little things that mean a lot at this point.
I felt safe back in our hotel and eager to just get home. I interviewed with
channel 9 news at 6:30 AM. It was a little emotional to re-cap the event and
I can’t stop thinking of the “what ifs”. Thank you for your congrats, but at
this point it feels selfish to think about the race. I am grateful that I
finished and was with my family in such terror. I would never want any of
that to overshadow what those felt who lost loved ones or the heartbreak of an
8 year old boy dying. This is something that I have seen on TV, but have
never expected to be a part of. The reporter asked me, how do you make sense
of this happening. I really don’t make sense of it. There is no rationale
behind such evil.
My whole play on lucky number 13, running my 13th marathon
in 2013 and flying out on the 13th may not be so lucky. However, I am a glass
half full person and am going to look for the positive. It could have been
much worse. Part of my journey that started in 2008 to first qualify for
Boston was to not take life for granted. Believe in the best and seize the
moment. My ending journey in 2013 has the same message. Believe the best in
people, seek out the good and be thankful for your moments. Thank you God for
getting me home safe with my husband, friends and to be a mommy. If I can do
that I am happy. I hope next year Boston is shining even brighter because you
can’t dim the light for people who have hope, faith and believe in the very