Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon

I have debated with myself about blogging about my experience with the Boston Marathon. But since I had planned on doing it before I decided I was still going to write.

Despite the fact that until recent years I was never an athletic person therefore never really had any specific connections to the marathon it was strangely enough all too familiar to me. Since I was young my mother actually volunteered as a ham radio operator for them. She still has her jacket from the 100th marathon that we will always keep. I never got to go with her because she was always "working" it but I lived through her and listened to everything she would tell when she got home.

In recent years I have myself gotten into races. Although I am more into triathlons and have always said I had no desire to run a marathon since I don't enjoy running all that much and am not even close to being fast the marathon I think holds a special spot in any New Englander's heart. My friend and I actually started talking about volunteering for the race last year. We were lucky enough to get in and we got to be where it all started in Hopkinton MA. It was a fantastic experience, we got to see thousands of athletes of all shapes and sizes. It was nice to be able to talk to some of them as well. I made a point to talk to one runner who was running for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies Team In Training and letting her know how much I appreciated her running. I unfortunately made her start crying which was not what I wanted to do right before she ran 26.2 miles but I think it was a good kind of cry and hopefully helped get her through those 26.2 miles. It was just an amazing vibe, feeling and experience.

When the time came around again this year we all wanted to sign up to volunteer again. Our group leader decided to sign us up for a water stop which at first we weren't so sure about because we had such a good time at the start last year but we started our day early ready to help.

It ended up being another great experience!
Photo Courtsey of Run Around Sara
We got there and were split up into two groups for each side of the street at mile 7. Our group was the second hydration stop so we were a little further down the street. We setup tables, carried Gatorade and water jugs, laid out cups and filled them. We had 10+ tables with 3-4 layers of cups. That part was fun filling them and basically building a house of cups. It was hard because you had to make sure all the layers were stable but we did it. Our group actually ended up at two tables right next to each other so our day started with a little healthy competition of who could complete their four layers first. But trust me it was all in good fun. 

Then we played the waiting game for when the athletes would get to us.

Finally we saw the lead cars and the Male wheelchair racers, followed by Female Wheelchair racers. That was very exciting I had never seen this part of the marathon live. I was so inspired watching these amazing athletes doing what they do.
Then came the Elite runners. We were all excited to see runners because most wheelchair racers don't stop for water they carry hydration packs. However we quickly realized that the Elite runners don't stop either, they have their trainers strategically placed for just the right time and amount of hydration. So although it was fun to watch them and of course cheer them on we weren't feeling useful yet.
Photo Courtsey of Run Around Sara

While we were waiting we were being entertained by Charlie who is a Veteran and also a fellow marathon runner. He has done the seven continents marathons which is so inspiring to me. He told us a lot about running and put doing a marathon in another light for me. Basically made it not such an out there event but something that anyone could do. It was interesting being able to talk to him.

Then the masses of runners came...
The sight alone was astounding! There were runners as far as the eye could see! They came right by and put us to work. It was really non-stop until about 12:15 and started to slow down. During all this were even got to see the Hoyt's racing which was something I was so excited to see.
Then started the clean up. Shovels, gloves, trash bags, walking up and down the street was what it took but we all worked together got the street all cleaned up, table broken down, empty jugs given back to poland springs, it almost looked as though we were never there when we were there.

As we walked back towards the car we were all talking about how much fun we had and how we were looking forward to next year.

On our way home we stopped at a friend's house to visit and while we were there we heard about the bombings. Needless to say like most people not only in New England but pretty much all over the country we were in denial and glued to the TV for hours on end. There are no words to descirbe what went through my mind. responding to texts, calls, tweets, Facebook to people checking where I was, if I was ok, etc. Something no one ever wants to do or have the need for people to do.

I feel as though the current population is so desensitized by television and the media that although we all knew what had happened the emotions really didn't set in. There were so many people setting up tributes to all those hurt and killed either by a physical event or a virtual one. I saw one that was virtual where people just got out and ran that day where ever they were in honor and support. I actually had to drive into Boston the next day for a meeting at Mass General Cancer Center so I decided that I was going to do my run from MGH to Boston Common and back.

Just driving into the city alone is when the emotional part really started to set in for me. All the flags at half mast, signs with lit candle, etc. As I turned onto Grove Street you could see the news trucks lining Cambridge Street and the news cameras and reporters stationed outside the hospital entrance. Aside from all that what really caught my eye were the armed military all around the hospital.

I got ready to run and headed out. When I started for the most part everything looked business as usual. I got to the end if Charles Street to the entrance of The Common, this is what I was greeted with...
There had to be about 30-40 police officers on motorcycles lined in the common. That was the final thing that set the emotions in motion. I have to admit I was confused I wasn't sure if I should be scared because they were there or if they were there to set people more at ease. But I continued, as I got to the other side of the common there was another line of police officers on motorcycles. As I was completing my first lap I came upon a sectioned off part of the common where the military had set up a camp type area.

Swat Truck

This site was something that stopped me in my tracks. I finally moved beyond the denial and realized someone or some group actually did this not only one of my favorite places but to all the people that love this place just as much if not more than I do. I was able to turn that into motivation to run another lap and complete my tribute run.

I have done a lot of thinking about it today as more information has come out regarding injuries etc. My heart breaks for everyone of those hurt, who have lost someone, who's life will forever be changed. I heard someone saying she was upset by the negativity going on through social media about having messed with the wrong city. I for one don't look at that as negative I look at it for exactly what it is the truth. Boston is the founding city to overcome and rise above and we have the history books to prove it! To me the saying you messed with the wrong city is that this will not break us, we will unite, rise and overcome.

I started out saying I volunteered because I have always said I had no desire to run a marathon. I have to say that I have decided that I have now made it my desire to not only run a marathon but make sure it is the Boston Marathon! Someone asked me why and I said just to show everyone that we can and we will! It might take me a few years to get to that point but I will get there and I will run that infamous marathon route! Until then and even after you best believe I will be there volunteering and supporting every single person runners, organizers, spectators alike. Be Strong!

Wordle: Boston

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