Wednesday, April 24, 2013

25.5 miles closer to a cure: Part 2 - We Need to Stop Running

"We need to stop running," he said. "We need to get off the course."

Me, thinking he was just kidding and wanted to stop because his quads hurt, replied, "So, should I just head home with these guys?" pointing to my friends.
"Yah," he said. 
"Um, I think I'll keep running," I responded. 
He agreed and with that, we were off. Just over two miles to go. 

But he kept talking about stopping. Something about his wife and a text and two explosions at the finish line. "They've stopped the race," he said. "The finish line is closed. The race is over." 

Once I realized he wasn't kidding, I was just confused. Explosions? At the finish line? But that's where Kate and Leah are. And people are still running, they haven't stopped the race. 

Slowly but surely the rumors started to circulate. The finish line was closed. There had been two explosions and though no one was sure what they were, it was certain they weren't good. We heard rumors of fatalities and injuries. So many injuries. 

I couldn't stop thinking about Leah and Kate. Were they okay? Danny's family was fine - they were on the way to the hotel - but he said they were on a street corner a few blocks from the finish line. I had to keep running. 

One of Danny's friends found us. He was just as confused as the rest, but confirmed the explosions and the closing of the finish line. He ran alongside us on the sidewalk until he was stopped by police who were closing off access any closer to the finish for spectators.

Around mile 25, two more of Ryan's classmates who had met us at mile 13, Blythe and JP, were screaming my name. Blythe looked like a ghost and JP's face was full of fear. More about explosions. And where is Ryan? Have you heard from his parents? " Ryan is behind us," I said, "and no, I haven't heard from his parents." I had texted Lynnette about a mile back, but she hadn't responded. I turned to continue on and Blythe, looking confused, questioned, "You're going to keep running?" "Yes," I replied, "I have to get to Kate and Leah."

And so we kept on running. I no longer felt tired. But I also no longer felt the elation of completing the last mile of a marathon. My thoughts were on Kate and Leah now and figuring out exactly what was going on. 

My personal Boston Marathon came to an end as we approached Charlesgate East on Commonwealth Avenue. The course was taped off and we couldn't go any farther. Danny and I found Kelly, another team member and together we all started responding to the texts that were now coming in as a continuous flow. I knew Ryan was behind us, but I didn't know how far. And he wasn't responding. And Lynnette still wasn't responding. For a split second, I thought of the worst: Something had happened to my family and they either couldn't respond or they did respond but had reached Ryan and he wanted to talk to me in person. I felt the emotion build up in my chest before I said another quick prayer and the feeling left. 

Everyone is okay, I thought. Everyone is okay. 

About 10 minutes after we stopped, Ryan approached. I waved my hand and he joined us. Though our confusion, I learned that Ryan had received a voicemail from his dad saying they were at the finish line, but everyone was fine. At the time, Ryan didn't know what the message really meant. He assumed they had arrived at the finish line okay and were ready and waiting to cheer us on. After Ryan learned about the explosions, he was immediately relieved, realizing they were at the finish line and everyone was fine meant something totally different than he originally thought. Danny ran off to find his family who had made their way back to their hotel. Kelly, Ryan and I shivered in the cold, not knowing what to do. 

And that's when it happened. That is when the good won that day in Boston. That is when, for me, I knew that no matter who had done this horrible and cowardly thing, they would not win. As we stood in the shadows of the buildings on Commonwealth Avenue, residents came running down from their apartments with water in pitchers from their very own cupboards. One woman came down with a pile of garbage bags. I ripped a hole in the bottom of one and pulled it over my shivering body to block the chill. Another woman offered us cookies from her cupboard, another a can of soda. I took a cookie and a cup of water and continued my way down the street. It was amazing to watch so many people come together. Offering their warm apartments or at the very least their phones. They asked us if we were okay, if our friends and families were okay, if we needed anything at all. And whatever it was we might have needed, they would have given it to us. 

We slowly made our way down some side streets to the back end of the finish line chute where our yellow bags were waiting for us on the buses. Stay away from garbage cans and don't go near the buses kept running through my head. So many rumors still. No one knew what the next few hours would hold and the fear showed. 

We pulled on our sweatshirts, picked up some finish line food and walked west to our car. As we approached Boston Common, we saw policemen, firemen, SWAT teams, military and more all being briefed for their immediate assignments. 

Officers were guarding the entrance to the garage. "Are you here to pick up your vehicle?" they questioned. When we answered yes, they told us to not worry about paying and to get out as quickly as possible. So we did. We made a few loops until we figured out how to get onto the freeway with the street closures and headed south to Kate and Leah. 

The Boston Marathon was finished. 

And yet I felt so unfinished. 

Part 3 - Unfinished


Molly said...

Oh, Maren. I cried when I reached the part about the people coming out to give food and warmth to the runners. There is so much good out there.

April said...

I was directed to your blog from Rebecca Wood. I'm so glad to hear that you and your family were safe from the events of that day. I'm sorry you weren't able to finish the last part of the race. Hopefully you can go again. :) It's so good to hear that there are so many good people in this world that would love to help people.

carolee said...

And good will always win. I know that it will! We are so grateful that you were all safe!

Bryan, Jaime, and Boys said...

You're such a beautiful writer. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so thankful for the good in the world. I'm so thankful you and your family were safe. I immediately thought of you when I heard the news. Your girls are darling and you both are remarkable parents! Much love and admiration!

AmyAnn said...

Maren - you are an amazing writer (which of course I have known for years and years)...and I am sitting here in my office with tears running down my face feeling somewhat your emotions of the day. So glad your family was ok! You guys are so inspiring!!