Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 Boston Marathon

It's hard to know what to say about the Boston Marathon - something so good that ended so badly. Suddenly talking about the race itself and my running of it seems insensitive in the face of so much brutality and tragedy. I didn't know what to post on this blog because I figured, who cares about my first marathon when people were maimed and killed? However, with a little time, reflection and feedback from friends and family, I've realized that that is the wrong way to think about what happened. We can't and won't ignore the horrific events that occurred or pretend not to see the incredible grief and loss resulting from the attack. 
However, nor can we let the cowards who did this take the marathon (and everything that it stands for) away from us. The city of Boston embraces the marathon and every runner and spectator that it attracts. The marathon itself is such a wonderful event and symbolizes incredible devotion, persistence, strength, support and dominion. These things cannot be taken away from the Boston Marathon. The marathon belongs to it's runners, spectators, supporters and to the city of Boston. The finish line doesn't belong to the terrorists. I think it's important to remember more than the horror of the explosions. We need to remember the awesome weather, the incredible crowds, the excitement, the funny/encouraging signs and the running. We need to remember all the good things that happened too because those things are what the Boston Marathon is all about. 

I was very grateful to have finished the race about 30 minutes before the explosions happened (I came in at 3:37 and the explosions happened around the 4:09 mark) and was well clear of the area when they did. I'd been in the women's changing tent when the explosions happened and me and some of the ladies in the tent thought it was a freak thunderstorm. Some others thought it was celebratory fireworks. I was able to eventually get it touch with Graham and meet up with him as well as my father-in-law, my sister-in-law, her husband (and their baby), all of whom had come out to watch me run. Graham filled me in on the horrific events that had happened as we walked (and I hobbled) quickly to our car. For the first 30 minutes of our drive home, the car was essentially silent as we tried to absorb what had happened and send out texts and social media updates to our friends and family, letting them know that we were all safe and leaving Boston. I didn't know what to say about the race even though I was proud of my time. It didn't seem appropriate. We had some disjointed conversation about what we knew (which wasn't much) and listened to reports on the radio, which eventually began to repeat the same information. So, we turned off the radio and drove in silence. 

My splits
A little while later, my husband broke it by saying that he didn't mean to be insensitive to any of the events that occurred but that he wanted to hear about my race. Everyone concurred and I started to talk, admittedly a little awkward at first. I recalled how I'd felt fantastic for the first 16 miles, okay from 17-21 and infinitely worse from 22-26 :) It was really fun to talk about the race itself and to reel off all of the extremely good experiences I had throughout the event. From meeting amazing people while waiting for the buses to take us to the Athletes' Village before the race, to laughing with said amazing people as some of them had to use the trashcan on the bus en route as a makeshift bathroom, to seeing all of the charity runners lined up and excited to run for such amazing causes. 


Bathroom lines at Athletes' Village
When the race began, seeing the spirit and determination on all the runners' faces and the genuine support and joy of the thousands of spectators was a truly incredible experience. While trundling up Heartbreak Hill, I passed a woman who gave me a literal pat on the back as I went by and told me to "keep pushing, don't stop" and yelled at my back that I was "kicking this hill's ass!" When I finally, finally, FINALLY got to the final stretch of the race, the atmosphere was electric with happiness and accomplishment and gratitude. Even though I was in serious pain at that point (my final mile was at an 11 minute pace) and was intently focused on not stopping, the deafening sound of all of those spectators cheering and applauding cut through my discomfort. Although I didn't pick up my head and look around much on that final stretch, I could hear and feel the love booming out from the crowds. 

Sorry MarathonFoto, I'm illegally posting this proof
When I stumbled across the finish line, the race volunteers gently ushered me through the assembly line of goodies, making sure each runner was covered in a blanket, eating and drinking and decorated with a finisher's medal. The wind was whipping through the buildings and in my fatigue-induced incoordination, I couldn't get the blanket to stay around my shivering shoulders. A bubbly race volunteer swooped in and wrapped it around me while another taped it closed so that I wouldn't have to hold it in place. Both were smiling and laughing and congratulating me and the first said that she loved being at the finish line of the race because she got to "mother all of the runners that have just worked so hard and performed so beautifully." She gave my arm a squeeze and gave an encouraging nudge in the right direction. Every runner and race volunteer I interacted with on race day was happy and supportive and the spectators screaming at the top of their lungs for hours on end were the reason why so many runners were able to keep going. The race belongs to all of them.

A lot of people recognized and have voiced this sentiment much better than me; an article on Bloomberg.com sums it up well: "Bombings Heighten Runners’ Commitment to 2014 Boston Marathon". Click here to read the article. I also really liked the intro segment on The Colbert Report on 4/16/13 saying that "what the Boston Marathon terrorists really don't get is that they attacked an unshakable group of people who run 26 miles until their nipples are raw on their day off." Damn right. Click here or on the picture to the above to watch it. 

9 comments:

  1. Glad that you had a good race and that you and your family are safe.

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    1. Thanks Suz and Allan. Also, thanks for your support throughout my entire training process :)

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  2. Britsy, thank you so much for sharing your race recap!! I don't think anyone would consider it insensitive to talk about your experience - it happened and it matters. Just like you said, all the good and best parts of the Boston Marathon belong to the runners/spectators/organizers, not the terrorists. And the more people who share the wonderful and beautiful parts of Boston 2013, the more the ugly is drowned out. So, your never said - will Boston be your first of many, or your first and last? :-)

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    1. Ha ha! Damn, you're the only one that noticed that! In regard to another marathon, I was probably wrong and yeah, there will probably be another :) It probably won't be immediately, but I'm guessing that I will not be a one and done. Although ask me again in a month ;) Thanks for all your kind words about my race recap. I really like what you said about sharing the good and beautiful parts of the race...thanks for all your support along the way. Any more marathons in your future?

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  3. Britsy I'm so glad that you and your family are safe! I've been watching my blog feed hoping for an update. Congratulations on a wonderful time! You're such an inspiration and I look forward to reading more of your marathon planning... I'm sure you're not done. ;)

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    1. Ha, thanks for the congratulations :) I think I'll probably do another marathon at some point, but I might be interested in trying my hand at triathlons next...with that said, I need to get a whole lot better at both biking and swimming :)

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  4. Sarah & KevinApril 21, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Kevin and I were relieved to hear that your fast cross fit legs outpaced 4:09. Impressive time - INSANE. Thank you for updating your blog with both your thoughts related to the bombing but also the electric atmosphere and your personal race.
    1) Did you poop your pants?
    2) Did you eat a shrimp burrito?
    3) How sore are you?

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    1. Thanks for the congrats! I literally laughed out loud reading your questions by the way :)
      1) Thankfully no I did not sh*t my pants, though unfortunately one lady almost did on the bus ride to the start of the race (she had to use the trash can in front of the entire bus of runners).
      2) I had shrimp pasta the night before the race and that treated me real nice. I ended up getting a super greasy, fried eggplant italian meal post-race (stuffed with ricotta if we're being real :)
      3) I am good now, but I was ungodly sore for two days post-race - all in my quads. When making my slow way down stairs, I had to granny it up stepping on each step with both feet and grasping the railing for dear life. Thankfully by day three, things had vastly improved. I'm heading back to CrossFit today so that should be...interesting to say the least.

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