Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Minutes and Eleven Seconds

My official Boston Marathon time was 3:57:33. Starting in wave 3 and showing up to the start line a few minutes late meant my clock didn't start until about 8 minutes in. My best guess is that I crossed the finish line at 4:05:33 race-time.
The bombs went off 4 minutes and 11 seconds later. I was getting a blanket/gatorade in the finishing area, the explosion was about 100 meters behind me. I heard it, turned, and saw the smoke starting to rise.
In hindsight this sounds stupid but No One in my area assumed it was a bomb. We had just run for 4 hours and brainwaves were struggling to communicate with each other. On some elementary level we knew something was wrong but is sounded like a bang, not the boom that movies would lend you to believe. It could have been some kind of machinery failure, or maybe even something like the musketeers at a Patriots game. Everyone in the crowd of runners looked to each other asking "what was that" in various emotive tones- some a hushed inquiry and others with an undertone of save me, tell me it's ok.
The advice of the BAA volunteers (who were amazing, fwiw) was to grab a Gatorade and keeping moving forward. The 50-something woman beside me was crying. She grabbed my arm and cried "what happened?" I took her hand and walked to the bag pick up, on the way listening to the conversations of strangers who were growing increasingly concerned. Our heart rate was coming back down to normal and our wits returning. The previous logic of "it can't be a bomb, that would've leveled the block"had given way to the fact that I've never seen a bomb go off and I just saw an explosion.
I grabbed my bag and took out my phone, needing desperately to know that my friends- who minutes ago I high-fived- were ok. Smoke was coming from the general direction I had seen them. Thankfully I had a missed call to prove they were ok.
In those two minutes the spreading words: bomb, limps, evacuate, had made it up the street.
People were crying, screaming, and sprinting away from the finish line, I was almost run over sitting by a fence next to the bag buses.
I think people run away from tragedy and pain because they want to feel some sense of control: If I can get myself quickly to a different place then my fate is in my own hands. But there wasn't any controlling this- the piece of earth where you stand might be no safer then the piece of ground you move to. If something else was happening- this might be it.
I texted a few friends who were near the finish to let them know I was ok.
I called my dad- he was so proud/happy for me (news hadn't broken the story yet) so it was surreal to tell him what was happening.  I contacted MFH and wandered to a friend's nearby apartment, on the way passing people covered in blood, others crying on their cell phones, some stunned staring at something only they could see before them.
Hugs from Alexa and my friends helped. We did an inventory of people who might be hurt/missing, made a list, and started to make sure someone had heard from them.
It was a few hours before everyone had been accounted for, but thankfully my friends are all ok. But my heart is heavy that other people's friends/family are not.


Yesterday I hugged/kissed/held hands with not only friends and family but also strangers. Yesterday we w
ere all just people- no hierarchal statuses or cliques. Today were still all people, tomorrow we will be as well. Try to not be mean to anyone, don't think you're better than them or judge them. We're all just doing our thing and someone who is a minor blip to you is a huge part of someone else's life and is complicated and amazing.


Today I'm thankful for all the expressions of love and calls/texts/emails yesterday. If I could only give you a quick answer at the time please know that I want more of you. Let's catch up/keep hanging out.
Today I'm thankful for the health/safety/general awesomeness of my friends- they made sure the people they knew were accounted for then started helping strangers (and Zack) contact and reunite with people that were looking for them.

To my friend Alex- you are one of the few people who admits to reading my blog so I know you'll see this. Don't let these sick assholes take away the feeling of accomplishment that you deserve. I hope when the sad starts to fade you will be as proud of yourself as everyone else already is of you.

I'm angry- we all are. And we need to know what happened- who did this and why- before we can let go and move on to a better-healed new normal. I sincerely hope nothing is taken away from the future of Boston. Next year we should cheer louder for the runners and celebrate Patriots day more feverishly than ever before. Keep bringing the high 5's and hugs and kisses to anyone who could use one.

I'll be a little weird for a while but I am ok.
With Love and Gratitude,
JP


1 comment:

  1. So I read this earlier in the morning, but wanted to wait a little bit until I commented. Because, in my humble opinion, I'm really good at commenting on blogs. But this one is hard.

    I'm grateful you're so speedy. I'm grateful I'm not-so speedy (words you'll never ever hear from me again ever). I'm grateful our friends chose to be where they were, and that Craig chose to stay home.

    I wish I could say that I feel accomplished, but I don't. Plenty of people have said I was close enough to the finish and I would have finished and all of these things. But the fact of the matter is I didn't finish. And that hurts my heart. One day I might be able to accept it, but for right now I still feel robbed. Robbed of 18 weeks of hard training, robbed of The Greatest Day, robbed of my feeling of safety.

    There's always another marathon, though. And even though I said this is it, it's not it. I'll do it again. Because nothing can change how I felt for the first 20 miles of that race, before I found out. I was on top of the world. I cried and I laughed and I high-fived and I had The Greatest Day. And while I know my first marathon will forever be tainted by the end, I hope all of us runners can still remember the beginning and the middle. When we did what we do: we ran.

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