My Boston - The World's Marathon

I may be a mountain biker now, but growing up I was a runner. My mother was a runner and she was my inspiration. As a child, I couldn't keep up with her and thought she was super fast. She ran in the 100th Boston Marathon and I knew what my goal would be. When I was old enough, I wanted to run in Boston. And it would be even more special if I was able to run Boston with her. I was lucky - I qualified for the 2000 edition of the Boston Marathon my first attempt. Running a 3:39:55 at the 1999 Walt Disney World Marathon, I was in. Now it was time to get Mom her time - a 4:05 marathon. She hadn't made it at Disney. We tried again at Grandma's marathon, but a foot injury prevented it. After her foot healed, we had enough time. One more shot, the 2000 Desert Classic Marathon. I paced her to a 3:57 marathon and the race officials printed out her race results. Three days before the entry deadline and she was in! We would run the 2000 Boston Marathon together.

And we did - at least up until mile 16. I left her at the start of the hills, running my own race among the thousands. It was my first big city marathon and the number of people left me in awe. I still remember the Welsley girls screaming, the cheers on HeartBreak Hill, the Citgo sign. That small rise just before the final turn onto Boylston street and the huge finish line painted across the road. I finished in 4:13, and then waited for Mom to cross the line. All around runners and family celebrating a lifeline dream - finishing the Boston marathon.

So as usual on Marathon Monday, I made my patients for 2x13 for all their exercises. I explained the extra rep with grin and a laugh - a total of 26 reps. One for every mile of the race. And as usual, my patients all laughed at me, rolled their eyes, but indulged the silly PT. It was like any other marathon Monday. Until the twitter feed changed and the live reports filled the tv screens. Smoke and blood - spectators being rushed away in wheelchairs meant for exhausted runners. The true horror of an attack on the most prestigious sporting event in the country - the Olympics for many runners and a celebration of freedom for the city of Boston. Like so many others who have made the trek from Hopkington to Boston, I calculated my time - where would I have been? Just making the turn. With the finish line in sight. My goal nearly accomplished.

Words cannot express the feelings of shock, horror and anger I felt when I saw the replays. Shock that someone would dare to attack an institution like Boston. An event to bring the world together in the celebration of the human spirit. Horror at the coverage of spectators and runners, their lives forever changed. To be in that spot, at that moment and to have all the vitality granted by running stripped away. And anger that the innocence of the sport I grew up with has been forever changed. Not only were the runners targets, but the thousands of spectators that line the course. The human wall of encouragement that can propel you to the finish line took the brunt of the heartless attack. I have nothing to say - no words change change things. No mindless platitudes can return what as been lost. Thirteen years ago, it was a place of joy. Yesterday - a place of fear. But in the future, joy shall surface again. We are runners - we will join together as we have in the past and reclaim our marathon. For Boston, one step at a time.


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