Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Strong

One year ago today I was on my computer tracking my running friend Mel as she ran the Boston Marathon.  I was so excited for her and was so thrilled with how fast she was cruising.  It was impressive to watch her - albeit she was just a little icon figure running.  But still I knew it was her and that was where she was on the course at the time.  After I saw that she had finished, I was so excited for her.  I was just tingling inside.  I turned off the computer and made a run to the store.

As I pulled in a parking spot at the store, I heard on my radio about the bombings.  My heart literally fell.  My first thought was of Mel and if she was okay or not.  I immediately sent her a text and just sat in my car waiting and hoping she would respond. Thankfully she did.  She said, "Yes, we are okay.  We made it through."  I was so grateful to hear that.  I made a quick dash in the store and then ran home and was glued to the TV for the rest of the day.

I was sickened by what had happened.  And angry.  Very angry.

As a runner and a marathoner, I understand what an accomplishment it is to run a marathon.  Running the Boston Marathon is like the Super Bowl for runners.  It is the ultimate goal for many runners and some work for years and years to be able to qualify as did Mel.  She came so close for so many years and when she finally was able to qualify, it was such a thrill for us all.  I was so happy for her.  Qualifying is tough.  The standards are stringent and for some impossible.  And they keep raising the bar and making it even harder to qualify. 

This was Mel's moment.   And the moment for all of those thousands of other runners.  Their dream come true.  And then, just like that, it was taken from them.

Yes, that angered me.  A lot.  For me it became a little bit personal because I was in training for the Ogden Marathon at the time.  I knew I had to do something.  Something to show my support and to help those affected by this tragedy.  And more importantly to show that those terrorists would not beat the heart and soul of runners.

Runners are strong minded.  Strong willed.  Strong hearted.  How else do you think they can run 26.2 miles without quitting?  They don't quit.  It's not in their makeup.  Runners push through even when it hurts (and it always hurts!) and when everything in them wants to quit.

They picked the wrong group of people to try and make their point.

Those crazies needed to be shown that their insanity can't stop the running community.  But more importantly, those runners that sacrificed so much only to have their dreams shattered, needed to be honored.

My friend Marci and I decided to put together a race as a way to honor those runners and to earn money for the victims of the tragedy.  We enlisted the help of another runner friend named Bob who is well connected to many local runners and has put on several races.  The three of us got together and planned the event.  It was held last year on April 29th.  We held it around the Mantua Dam because the distance is exactly 4.15 miles, which we felt was significant since the bombings happened on 4-15-2013. 
It was a success beyond what we had hoped.  We were hoping for 100 people to show up and we ended up with almost 300We also earned almost $2000 to send to the Boston One Fund that went directly to help the victims.  We had amazing community support and we were ecstatic!

I asked Mel if she would come and speak about her experiences that happened on that tragic day in Boston.  She was more than happy to come and share with the community her feelings.  We had the support of the Mayors from two cities and everyone was so willing to do what they could to help with this cause.

I know raising funds for the victims won't erase what happened to those that were directly affected by the bombings, but it was a way for those of us that wanted to show our support to them to give back and to make a statement that we will not be stopped by some senseless act of violence.  It is a way to show that our communities are strong, as well as this great nation.  Not only Boston Strong, but America Strong.  No terrorist can destroy that.

Now a year later, I feel that it is even more important for us to accept the call from the sweet little boy Martin Richard that was so innocently killed in the bombings:
No more hurting people.  Peace.

 There really are no better words to describe what it means to be Boston Strong.  Thank you Martin.

And thank you community for your amazing support!

(click to enlarge)