On Boston.

It seems like Monday, April 15th was more than just a few days ago. A lot has happened and not happened since then and I can’t help but feel like everything we’ve experienced couldn’t possibly have happened in a matter of days, hours, minutes, seconds.

I’m not sure I will be writing a race recap this time around. I don’t think I could do it justice. Everything is a blur and details just aren’t there. I trained my heart out for the past few months and was so happy to cross that finish line with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart. I did it. I ran a 3:14:37, a PR of over 3 minutes.

2013-04-15 13.42.39

2013-04-15 22.06.08

All of that seems so silly now. It’s meaningless. And just like the ups and downs of the course, the emotional roller coaster of the past few days seems like it just won’t end.

Others didn’t get the chance to reach that finish line. Like many of you, I’m angry, hurt, confused, conflicted, sad, and lost. After I exited the finish chute and hobbled over to the gear truck to collect my bag, I turned on my phone for the first time. It was a flurry of text messages and tweets from friends who had been tracking me during the race. A wave of emotion came over me as I realized that all of the sweat I put into this training cycle was worth it. I put on my finisher’s jacket and began making my way through the family meet-up areas. Manny called me and told me they were still on their way back from Boston College where they had been spectating (near mile 21.5) and that they would get off at the Hynes stop. I’m not totally familiar with Boston but I knew where that was. I walked west and approached Boylston when Scott called my name. I turned around and we hobbled (like only marathoners can) toward each other. We congratulated each other and began talking about the race and how we felt. Scott told me that he saw Kevin and that we should walk over toward the finish line to meet up with him and see Chanthana finish.

I knew it would be tough to get there. I asked several of the volunteers standing near the barricades in the finish chute if there was an easy way to get over to the finish line. They told Scott and I to turn around (away from Boylston) and walk several blocks west before turning back north where the finish line was. So we did. But we knew that it was going to be really busy and we ended up finding an empty corner to sit and wait for my family to find me at Dartmouth and Stuart. They arrived a few minutes later. I was torn between finding a place for all of us to sit and eat and drink a celebratory beer and finding the other runners in our group who had all finished. We decided it was best to wait there and use it as a meeting spot. And we were especially looking forward to starting the celebration with a beer.

We ordered a round of drinks. And then we ordered a meal.

And this is when time starts to slow down.

I heard one boom. Others heard two. We felt it. The restaurant had open windows and we could see everything that was happening on the street. People were so confused and quiet. We all looked at each other and kept repeating, “what was that?”. For a few minutes, no one on the street moved and everyone in the restaurant peered out the windows to try to figure out what happened. A few minutes later, we saw people running away from Boylston and crying. No one looked injured. People were in shock. We told our waiter we wanted the check and we didn’t want our food. We didn’t know if we should stay in the restaurant. I looked at Twitter and the first tweet I saw was from Flotrack.

Flotrack Boston Marathon 2013

The restaurant turned on the news and most of my family walked over to see what they were saying. I stayed in my seat. I didn’t know what to do. I was worrying about the other runners that were on their way to meet up with us. I was torn between wanting to know what happened and avoiding it. I knew it was bad but I didn’t want to know how bad. Another few minutes went by and ambulances and police cars lined the street outside the restaurant. They told people to get off the street and directed them several blocks away. There must have been at leaset 15 cop cars on the street. Manny was planning on taking the train to the airport 30 minutes before. He had his bag with him and everything. He quickly decided that he would intentionally miss his flight and pay for another the next day. I’m so glad he stayed.

Our phones were crazy. We had random spurts of cell service and all of us received notifications in batches. We couldn’t keep up with responding to everyone. (Thanks to anyone that passed along the news that the group was okay. That was incredibly helpful.) Our phones were quickly dying.

Lauren and Chanthana arrived at the restaurant and we all hugged them so tightly. Everyone was safe. My friends and family were all safe and accounted for. I’m not sure what time it was when we decided that we should start walking to our hotel. We knew we wouldn’t be able to take the train and that the walk across the river to Cambridge was probably less than 2 miles. Compared to the 26.2 we had just run, 2 miles sounded easy. And compared to what could have happened just an hour or so before, we felt lucky, spared.

Boston Marathon 2013 Explosion

the restaurant in relation to the finish line

After everything that happened, it didn’t occur to me until Tuesday night that I could have been much closer to the finish line than I was if those volunteers hadn’t directed Scott and I to walk several blocks in the other direction first. And as badly as our legs hurt, I’m glad we were too tired to end up anywhere other than that restaurant.

My mind has been on a loop since Monday. It’s hard to think about anything other than what happened that day. I’m having a difficult time putting into words how I’m feeling. I was in shock until Tuesday night when I shed the first tear. It’s been difficult to stop the tears since then. I can’t put it into words , but Megan said it well when she wrote, “I think this is why my brain is tricking me into thinking that somehow it’s not a big deal. That it wasn’t an earth-shattering, life-changing event. It’s put up a sort of barrier that’s guarding me from fully taking it all in. But then I see photos from the scene and read about those victims who didn’t make it, and it all hits me again. Realizing that so many of my close friends could’ve easily been one of the victims triggers yet another wave of emotions that I’ve been trying to suppress all day. I just can’t believe that this insane event hit so close to home. Much, much too close.”

It’s not fair that we didn’t get to properly celebrate our accomplishments. And it’s not fair that innocent people were killed and injured on Monday.

But we will get our legs back underneath us, lace up our shoes, and run forward. Because that’s what we do.

2013-04-17 03.40.07

– J

24 thoughts on “On Boston.

  1. Annabelle says:

    If anything, the PR’s we earned on Monday are even more meaningful now, and soon we’ll feel comfortable treating them as such. Our family of runners and race fans has been dealt a huge blow, but we are all that, a family.

  2. Corey says:

    Thanks for sharing your story and so many congrats on your PR and strong race. It really isn’t fair that the amazing events from the day are forever marred by this cruel act by evil people. I can only wish peace for you as you continue to process all of this. As affected as I am not having been there, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for those of you who were.

  3. Corey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and so many congrats on a PR and strong race. It really isn’t fair that the amazing events from earlier in the day will forever be overshadowed by the cruel acts by evil people. I can only wish you peace as you continue to process this. As much as I have been affected, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those of you who were there.

  4. Melissa says:

    I’m so sorry your PR and amazing race are overshadowed by such horrific events, but like the Globe article says, the race does matter. I can’t imagine all the emotions you’re feeling right now, but I hope you find some peace with it.

  5. ErinAMG says:

    Jenny, you ran an amazing race- so impressive!!- and you should be extraordinarily proud of how hard you worked, the sacrifices you made, and everything you did to make that PR fall into place on Monday. The day’s happenings are incredibly tragic, for sure, but the running community–of which you are very much a part!–will endure. It’s our game; it’s what we know best. 🙂 Write that super detailed race report of your rockin’ race in time, when you are ready. I think it’ll help with the healing–both yours and those of us who were supporting you and our other Boston-bounders from afar. Congratulations, again, and my heartfelt thoughts are with you. xo

    • Jenny says:

      You’re wonderful, Erin. And you’re right—I should write my race report. I don’t think I really remember all of the details at this point but I need to share the happiness of what happened before 2:30 that day. I’m really looking forward to tracking you at Eugene–race your heart out girl!

      • Pete B says:

        Thanks. Glad you were safe as well. I am doing well, considering everything that transpired last week. Physically I’m exhausted! I feel sleepy all of the time. I just started to run again yesterday, but only a couple of miles. It may be a few weeks before my mileage is back to “normal”. Hope you are doing okay! 🙂

  6. Susan - Nurse on the Run says:

    First of all, congrats on the PR! It’s a tough course and you clearly ran it well!

    Overall…I think the race does matter, and I will do a race report at some point. The weekend was full of so much good before we all became tragically distracted from it. One of the scariest parts of Monday was not knowing who was there out, who was cheering. I wasn’t so cold, I might have gone out to cheer. I ran into Kevin (yay Chicago!) on my way out, and he was on his way toward the finish somewhere. They could have set the bombs off earlier and that would have been a game changer. It’s scary to think about, and better to think that we’re all safe. And they can’t take away an awesome race of yours, which I can’t wait to hear about!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Susan! You have a great attitude. I’m beginning to feel a sense of calm about this whole thing but I have waves of being sad and then angry. It just takes time. I’m so glad that you and Kevin were away from the finish line area at the time. We were all really worried about him because we knew he was going to try to see Chanthana cross the line. I’m going to try to properly celebrate this weekend!

  7. Christine says:

    You ran an amazing race and an incredible PR on a tough course. You worked so hard for that and I feel terribly that such an accomplishment is overshadowed by such a terrible event. I was so glad to hear that you were OK. It’s crazy but I was so worried about so many people that I knew running the event but who I only know through blogging and social media and haven’t actually met. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been and still is.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Christine. The power of social media is seriously overwhelming in a good way. I’ve never felt so supported by people I haven’t even met–and yet, I think many of you understand what I’m going through more than some of my closest friends. I can’t imagine how tough it had to have been for you watching from afar. I know I would have had a hard time with it. I’m going to try to step away from the news this weekend and collect myself …and *properly* celebrate the PR as best I can. You’re so sweet.

  8. Kristen says:

    I don’t know you IRL but was so happy to see the tweet that you, Chanthana, and the rest of your group were okay.

    You ran an amazing race. Your athletic prowess and empathetic heart are an inspiration. This is beautifully written. Congrats on your amazing PR!

    I hope you can soon find comfort and peace.

    • Jenny says:

      Wow, that’s so nice of you. Just as Christine says, some of the most amazing support can come from people we’ve never even met in real life. Thanks for leaving some kind words

  9. cisforcourtney says:

    I’m sure this was not an easy post to write. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    My heart hurt for you when you said that it was “meaningless”. In my opinion, it wasn’t meaningless. You came back from injury, trained your butt off and ran an incredible race. I hope you can find peace soon and give that PR the celebration it deserves.

    Also, thank you for the update on twitter – I was so relieved to see that your group was safe.

  10. Dominick S. says:

    What an awesome PR, such an accomplishment. As everyone has already said, you’re incredible and write when you are ready. Glad to hear you and your friends are ok. The events were tragic but out of the darkness the light shined bright in Boston, it showed people that there is much more community than we thought and it makes me damn proud to be a runner and US citizen. Thanks for sharing as always.

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