The bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday broke my heart.
That was my home.
That was my job.
That was my race.
I wasn’t there yesterday, but my author friend Carrie Jones was. I couldn’t watch the news last night, the videos were too much. I went mostly silent on social media. I made mashed potatoes with truffle oil and snickerdoodle cookies. I contacted my friends back in Boston to make sure that they were okay.
I tried to process what happened. I cried on the phone with my mom.
It really hit home for me. And as terrible and selfish as it might sound, all I could think was It could have been me.
I lived in Boston from 2003-2008 before I packed up a rental car to move west and get married. I worked at the Boston Public Library downtown in the teen room for several years. The view from my windows was the Boston Marathon finish line. It was my goal to run it.
The Boston Marathon is the hardest marathon to run. Not just because you run downhill for 20 miles and then have to run up Heartbreak Hill, but because unlike most marathons you have to be wicked fast for it. You have to qualify in a another marathon, and it’s not even guaranteed you’ll run Boston if you do. I am not wicked fast. I’m wicked slow. I was also a half-marathon type of girl, never having run farther than 13.1 miles.
That changed in 2008 when on a whim, I joined up with Massachusetts Eye and Ear and ran for charity. I raised a lot of money in a short time. I over-trained and got injured. Still, I ran it. And it was the best and worst thing to ever happen to me.
I won’t tell the actual marathon story here, because it’s not relevant. What is relevant is that I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 35 minutes.
The thing that hits home with the explosions and timeline of it all is that at the time the two bombs went off, those weren’t your wicked fast runners finishing. Those were the charity runners finishing between the 4 hour to 4:40 mark. Those were runners Like Me. The people at the finish line were spectators like my mom.
Watching the news and Facebook and Twitter updates made me feel so helpless. What could I do 2,484 miles away in Seattle?
I’m certain that Boston will bounce back from this. Chances are, I will too. There’s nothing my adopted hometown is but resilient. We reversed the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and 2007. We go out and spend an entire day cheering for runners we don’t know, until the last stragglers cross the finish line. We help each other out.
I know Marathon Monday won’t be the same after this. What was once a giant party will be marred by those two explosions. But marathoners are badass. We run injured. We run sick. We finish regardless of the cost. No one will be able to take those miles away from us. This is our marathon.
And if you’re still feeling helpless, like me, and wondering what you can do to help, please donate to the Red Cross.
Boston, I love you. I’ve got your back.