The pain is only temporary.
It started as a day of hope. Time goal, forgotten. Injury, forgotten. Missed long runs and training regrets, all forgotten. I was ready to run, to finish and celebrate with my team, to soak in the joy of the day and relish in the pride of being a marathon coalition runner. A Team MMP runner. A charity runner. And if there was ever a point where I felt I could not go on, if there was a hill I thought I could not climb, I promised to remind myself that the pain is merely temporary but the impact of what we were doing is something that would last forever.
Despite the fact that there wasn’t a teammate or familiar face in sight as I ran the Boston Marathon course that day, the camaraderie amongst strangers was clear and the love was ever present. At one point, a military serviceman running in his fatigues carrying a US flag placed his hand on my back and told me how proud he was of my fundraising achievement. He didn’t know me, nor I him. But it was a powerful exchange, one of many that took place that day; one that I will carry with me forever.
It’s truly brilliant how an event of this magnitude can bring people together. And even though I did feel those excruciating moments of pain (leg cramps, muscle burns, blisters), with each stride I reminded myself, as I promised I would, that the pain really is only temporary. It was a mantra that carried me, one that would help me in more ways than I could have ever imagined that day.
By the time I completed Heartbreak Hill, I was ready to race. I had conserved enough energy in the first 21 miles that I was ready to go as fast as my legs would carry me to the finish. Unfortunately, all that was halted at mile 22 as we received the news that the finish line was being diverted due to “an explosion” at the finish line. We all kept running, though, assuming it was merely an electrical malfunction. As we continued on, however, spectators to the left and right kept insisting we not pay attention to the news. We were beginning to realize that something was seriously wrong.
At this point, I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story. By now, you’ve already heard and seen the frightening events that took place. What I will tell you is what you probably don’t already know: the perspective of a runner. The confusion and emotions that were extremely high. The feeling of utter helplessness as information was minimal and cell phone service was non-existent. The period of about an hour where I was unable to reach my family and I could only think of the worst possible circumstances they were in. The tears, panic and worry. The runners huddling together, hoping for the best. The sadness as we considered what could have possibly happened to fellow runners and supporters who were merely trying to celebrate a joyous day.
It has not been lost on me that this monster timed the bombs to go off at a time when he knew most marathoners would be finishing. It has not been lost on me that had the bombs gone off just 45 minutes later, I might have been there along with my family. It has not been lost on me that this horrific scene unfolded before the eyes of so many innocent people and children. And it certainly has not been lost on me that there are 3 beautiful lives lost and so many more brutally injured as a result.
I’d like to say that after 3 days I’m over this, but I would be lying. I’d like to declare that the fire is in me now more than ever to run in 2014 and FINISH, but the thought of running down Boylston St. now brings me panic and utter anxiety. I’d like to say that I am looking to the future, but my heart hurts and my mind will not stray from the images of Monday’s massacre. The nightmares are constant and the tears have not dried and I’m finding it difficult to find peace even still.
But as I did until the top of Heartbreak Hill, I will remind myself that this pain IS only temporary. And though the impact of this will last forever, I am comforted because we are a better, stronger Boston because of it.