I was sitting in my hotel room ironically in Oklahoma City on Monday when I saw the news of the devastating bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I thought of the horrible tragedy that happened several years before in Oklahoma City and how that event rocked this city of which I was a guest. I thought of all the people in Boston on Monday who were injured and especially the Richard family who lost their little boy, and the debilitating injuries to his mother and sister. It makes you appreciate your loved ones and how quickly life can change in the blink of an eye. Hug your mom, your wife, your husband, your family members. Life is so fragile that it can never be taken for granted.
This post is dedicated to those who were injured and lost their lives. But it is also dedicated to the people of Boston and the runners whose spirit of comraderie and common goal can never be taken away by a senseless act of violence. I think about the girls from Wellesley College whom you can hear from several miles away cheering on the runners as they pass through the campus. It is a tradition there and they spend hours waving and cheering at the top of their lungs. When you leave Wellesley, you feel like you have wings. But Sad Bill slowed me down as we continued to pursue the goal. As you run through the little towns along the way and through the Newton Hills and eventually Heartbreak Hill, you are buoyed by the gracious spectators who volunteer their time at the aid stations only too glad to help all the runners along the way. Folks line the course and take pride in their marathon. They are the soul and spirit of the day just as much as the competitors.
As you make way over Heartbreak Hill, you hear the P.A. system announcing the finish of the wheelchair competitors and eventually the world class men and women. If you want to be inspired, watch the wheelchair competitors who are athletes in every sense of the word and train and work to achieve their goals just like anyone else. They have overcome great odds to get here and are an inspiration to all along the routes of any marathon. The world class runners are indeed impressive as they seem to float along in their sub 5 minute miles. The Kenyans, the Ethiopians, the Americans, runners from all over the world compete in this event. But the backbone of the event are the people who train all year and make personal sacrifices to run and to travel to Boston. They are husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, sons, daughters, all running together with a common bond not to compete against each other, but to collectively achieve a common goal.
Finally you make your way towards the Citgo sign at Fenway Park and you have 1 mile to go. Usually the first 20 miles are physical but the last 10K is mental. You press on towards the goal. The faithful Bostonians who are celebrating the marathon, line Commonwealth Avenue and their energy blows you towards the finish line where you are greeted by the wonderful volunteers and presented your finishers medal and a mylar blanket to keep you warm as you make your way to friends and family. Forget that the power was out at the hotel and the elevators were not working. Forget that there was no hot water to take a shower. Forget that I had to walk backwards down stairs because my quads hurt too much from the pounding after Heartbreak Hill. Today as I look back, I think of all those Bostonians who ran, volunteered, cheered on the competitors along the way. Patriots Day is their day and the Boston Marathon is their race.
As we learn more each day of the tragic events of the bombings at the finish line, we also see stories of the resiliency of the victim’s families, the injured spectators and runners, and the Bostonians. The same blood that ran through the patriots at Concord and Lexington runs through their descendents today. They are proud, they are tough, and they will prevail against all odds. Thomas Grilk, the Executive Director of the Boston Marathon said it best this week when he stated that,” Boston is strong, Boston is resilient, and Boston is our home. And Boston has made us enormously proud.” The runners will continue to train, and those who were robbed of their opportunity this year will be back with even greater resolve. No terrorists or deranged individuals can defeat the spirit that is the Boston Marathon. The 118th running of the 2014 Boston Marathon will be held with pride. The Richards would want it that way. Thanks for reading and God Bless America!