my heart belongs to the Boston Marathon

Boston 2013 Finish Line

A year ago today, I was at my first Boston Marathon with my sister. I loved it. I love races: running them, watching them, the whole thing. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed the enitre day. We watched periodically.  We went into some shops on Newbury and on Boylston. I remember wanting to go into different places or spend more time, but deciding against it. We were supposed to have hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s again (because soooo good!). But instead, we made a quick stop and continued on, making our way past the crowds, past the finish line, and on to pick up my niece.  

Yup. We walked past the finish line. Forty-five minutes later, we were walking back to my sister’s apartment when we heard what my niece thought sounded “like thunder.” I’ll never forget even where we were when we heard it. It was a perfectly clear, sunny day. Thunder? Weird. We were already in Cambridge and had no idea what was going on.
Boston Finish
And then the texts started to come in from friends: “Are you okay?” “Aren’t you in Boston?” At first, I didn’t know what was happening until finally someone told me. We turned on the TV and there was the smoke-filled finish line. The rest of the day, I was flooded with messages of love from all over the country.  (Thank you, friends.)

Most of what I remember next is just trying to stay calm, mostly for my niece’s sake. And sirens. It isn’t accurate, but it felt like the whole city was full of sirens. We went on with the evening sort of as if it wasn’t happening. We went to the craft store down the street. We went to dinner in Harvard Square. We exchanged pleasantries with our waiter, who admitted that he was pretty scared. Weren’t we all? What did we even know about details then?

I flew home the next day. Homeland security officers were walking around Boston Logan talking to anyone wearing a marathon related item. I don’t remember too much of that week until the morning of the manhunt. My sister, her family, and her city were in lockdown. I went into work late.

Corgi two week notice celebrationA week after the marathon, I was in a car accident. It wasn’t major, but it messed up my neck and shoulders for a little while. Four days later, I put in my two weeks notice at work. The universe had taken moderate attempts at my life twice in a week. Whatever I was hoping to do, I should probably just do it.

In the aftermath of the marathon, I’ve had some trouble. It isn’t every day that you are so close to that kind of situation. But I wasn’t a victim, not really. We weren’t there when it happened. We had walked away from that finish line with plenty of time beforehand. But I think a lot about the decisions I made that didn’t put us there at the time of the bombing. I can probably remember all of them. I wonder if we walked by one of the bombers and never knew. I think about how grateful I am that my niece wasn’t with us. Who knows what our time frame would have been then? I’ve had some trouble being in close quarters with large groups since: concerts, crowded restaurants or bars. I start to imagine what it would be like if a bomb went off. Sirens freaked me out for a long time. Even now, I see mysterious bags and think “that could be a bomb.” 

I’ve been on my “life sabbatical” since the beginning of last May, less than a month after the bombingRoad trip. I’ve traveled, I’ve almost finished school, I’ve taken on a lot of new challenges. It’s weird to say I’m grateful for the tragedy, but I am in a way. I have made important decisions and experienced amazing things since then. 

This year, I’ll be back at the marathon with my sister. I have a friend running it, who has worked so hard to get there. I’m excited to cheer for her and all the other runners. I can’t say I’m not emotional at the thought of being there. But I’m not scared. I’m so happy that I get to be there again. 

Things happen fast. You never know how close you are to something life changing or threatening. But that isn’t a reason to be scared. It’s a reason to do all the things you love and stop doing the things that aren’t doing you any good.  What did I learn from the Boston Marathon? Life is too short and too precious. Run whatever your race is with all your heart and love every minute, even the hard miles when you think you can’t go any further. 

View from the Mass Ave bridge on race day.

See you again in a few days, Boston.

 

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The Night Before… My First 1/2 Marathon.

So I said I’d be back in October, but it’s a little later in October than I had hoped.  Life has been kind of trapped in an up and down cycle for awhile.  Here’s the quickest of updates before we start to talk about the good stuff…

The Bad

In the past couple of months two rather emotionally taxing situations arose.  First, there was the unexpected break up from my long time favorite person. All the appropriate words to describe what that feels like just won’t come out, I guess horrible and wasteful and sad generally sum it up.  Shortly after that, my grandmother ended up in the hospital with a broken hip and now has to be in long-term care, a very sudden change in her health situation. She is currently suffering from dementia, which is sad and difficult in many, many ways for her as well as our family.

I don’t really think going any more in depth than that is necessary.  Suffice it to say, enough bad things.  I mean… It feels just like rainbows and sunshine around these parts. As a side note, I highly recommend grabbing Tig Notaro’s “Live.”  It’s $5 via Louis CK’s site. It’s 30 minutes of laughter and perspective.

The Good

:: My new job has continued to go well. It is such a relief to not constantly think or want to say “I hate my job.”  There is so much power in that.

:: I started playing the violin.  I love it.  I have wanted to play for a long time and finally am.  Lessons have been going well, though I must admit that some of the simpler mechanics are hard when trying to put them all together.  I at least don’t sound awful too often.  I just wish I had more time to devote to it.

Violin!

:: School officially started.  I don’t mind the online format at all.  The flexibility is great and I do feel like I’m putting work into it. I am still in somewhat introductory classes because I’ve never done any academic work in business. I will be excited to start getting into more of my focus: human resources.

:: Miscellaneous good things: I have gotten to spend time with family and a lot of time with friends. I’ve seen some people I haven’t in a long time. I got to see some good bands play, caught Bert Kreisher, watched roller derby, etc.  The cats are doing well…

Cat raft

Life on the Cat Raft.

I am probably forgetting a million things. The main attractions in life have been work, school, violin, a little bit of derby, and running.

Oh, yeah… Running!

So my toe was acting up anyway and then I did a dumb thing like drop part of a projection screen on it.  I ended up with pretty bad toe issues, lost most of my toe nail, and had an infection that wouldn’t go away because I waited too long to go to the doctor.  After almost a month of doctor visits, he finally cleared me for the race tomorrow.  I have barely run much of anything over that past month and before that even because I was trying not to make the toe worse.  If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  At least the peroneal tendonitis went away.

Here we are now, the eve before the Columbus Marathon.  This is a big deal for me.  Last year at this time, I had just had my gallbladder out.  The weekend after the surgery, we were headed to breakfast and ran into the road closures from the marathon. I remember looking out the car window longingly at the running they were doing.  This year, here I am.  It was only a year ago that I started running, when a 5k seemed forever.  Now I’m about to do a lot more than that.

I know I am not well-prepared.  I never got where I wanted to on my long runs in training.  I know I can comfortably do over 7 miles.  I think I can get through the next 3 okay.  At that point, those last 3.1 miles are going to really be something to work for, I think.  I am going in with the mindset that I will be slow and I might have to walk a lot.  This is my first half, so while I have a time goal in mind, it’s a PR regardless of time. No matter what happens, I think I’ve come a long way in a year.

It is already past my bedtime and I haven’t yet gotten everything ready for tomorrow, so I’ll leave it here and pick up post-race.

Here we go…