Well today I was going to write about how well my arugula is growing, but it just doesn’t feel right with the events at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Instead, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on what happened and why it hits so close to home for Ryanne and I.
What does running have to do with a blog such as ours that posts about family recipes, sewing projects, and gardening? Well running for Ryanne and I has become somewhat of a family tradition passed down by our dad. I wouldn’t really say we have a long line of running enthusiasts in our family, but I’d like to think my dad has started something special… no not a recipe for banana bread, but a love for setting goals and working hard to exceed them, having a healthy lifestyle, and having determination to train for hours upon hours for a race. As he said during our last race, he hopes Ryanne and I continue to keep up the family tradition of running after he can’t run anymore. I think I replied with “Well maybe if I keep running until I’m 80 I can qualify for Boston because the qualifying time will be easier.”
I was so excited when my dad qualified to run in the Boston Marathon after running his first marathon – I had to make the trip up to Boston to watch him. I knew he was excited too, talking about the infamous landmarks along those 26.2 miles such as the Newton Hills and the Wellsley girls that he had read about in the book 26 Miles to Boston. My dad put in countless hours training and had the most amazing training ethic I’d ever seen. I think my mom was starting to believe she was a “runner’s widow” because my dad was always out running.
When it came time for heading up to Boston, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew the Boston Marathon was the Superbowl of Marathons, but had no idea the type of electricity and sense of pride it brought to the area. That weekend my husband Matt and I spent time with his father’s side of the family and stayed with his grandmother at her bed and breakfast on Walden Pond. We’ve always loved going up to Boston to visit, so it was nice to show my parents around as well.
On the day of the race my mom, Matt, and I were so excited and couldn’t wait to get a spot along the race route. It was set to be the hottest Boston Marathon ever. My dad kept texting us and updating us from where all of the runners gathered at the start in Hopkinton. While we were all excited for that day, we also had heavy hearts as it was the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which occured at our alma mater. My dad wore a shirt to let everyone know he wasn’t just running for himself, but for the 32 people who died.
Once we got to the race route, about at mile 7, it was so hot I couldn’t imagine running in that heat. But quickly those thoughts faded as we watched the elite runners go by, runners who were blind, runners who were wearing prosthetics, Team Hoyt, and active duty service members who were hiking the route with their rucksack in memory of fallen soldiers. The streets were jam-packed with thousands of people for as far as the eye could see. We watched and waited eagerly to see my dad – I had never been to a race like this before in my life! I remember cheering and clapping furiously because of the energy of others at the race. Finally we saw my dad and took the picture below. I truly believe his smile conveys that running Boston is one of the crowning moments of his life.
So as I share this experience it’s so hard to believe that something so inhumane and tragic could occur at one of the most positive, energetic, and emotional sporting events in the world. Lots of runners being interviewed have shared that they feel like it was a personal threat to them, even if they weren’t there. I feel very much the same way, especially as my dad would have finished up around the time that the bombs went off if he had run it this year. While the media continues to show the explosions near the finish line, there is one picture I have to keep replaying in my head to remind myself that the world is not a bad place. This picture is of a runner who had cramped up about 3/4 of a mile from the finish line, right where we were standing. He could barely walk and had collapsed to his knees. Seeing this, two other runners ran back and lifted him up carrying him the rest of the way to the finish line. I will never forget that selfless act of kindness, it truly reminds me that not all in the world is evil. So this week as I go on my runs through Raleigh, I think of and pray for the runners, their families, spectators, Bostonians and know that good will prevail.