So it’s been 1 week since the tragic events that took place at the finish line of one of the most prestigious marathons on the globe. While we’ve had some resolution, I still find it all difficult to swallow and seek appropriate answers. My heart and thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by this senseless act. I also acknowledge just how awesome the running community has been in the wake of this tragedy, coming together as we have in ways that continue to inspire. Well done.
As you may know, I was in Boston from April 11th through the 15th (Marathon Day) with my good friends at Newton Running. My job was to document some behind-the-scenes and race-weekend festivities in my video-log form in hopes of capturing some of that excitement that surrounds one of the biggest running stages in the world. I wanted to meet the runners running the race, I wanted to share the excitement with their families, I wanted to hear about the struggle and work that each runner went through to qualify for this elite event. As runners, we all know the Boston Marathon is a big deal. As a runner who sees qualifying for it as an almost impossible undertaking, I made it my goal to live vicariously through everyone I met. Little did I know that the weekend would change me in ways I never thought imaginable.
Many of you follow me across the social networks and many of you knew about the adventures I was to embark upon. You were there commenting when I would share some of the cool things that happened to me throughout the days; you would stay up late with me as I uploaded each daily video late into the morning; and you would share in my excitement and anticipation for the big day. It was like we were all sharing in the build-up of the race together, as a family of spectators looking down onto the world of those runners present. It was awesome.
As I posted each video each day, I tried to document as much of my activities as possible and determine what I could collect the following day. I knew Monday was going to be the grand-daddy video and couldn’t wait to document the goings-on. The morning started earlier than previous as Brandon (Newton Running’s Social Media Guru and my liason) and I grabbed our gear, tents, and made our way to mile 20 at the base of Heart Break Hill. We would have prime spots to gather footage of all the elites (just as the Elite men were passing the Elite women!) as well as all the other runners just before they embarked on what is infamously the most grueling section of the Boston Marathon Course.
As I filmed and enjoyed the comraderie with my new-found Newton peeps, I knew I was going to have to snag a taxi and head to the airport ASAP to catch my flight home. I said my goodbyes to all as they continued to cheer and let loose (they had quite the crazy weekend of working one of the busiest booths at the Boston Marathon Expo – total pros). As my taxi headed quickly towards to the Boston Airport, I took the brief time to reflect on what was an awesome weekend that I not only got to share with those IN Boston, but everyone at home who shared in my experiences. It was an honest heartfelt moment of appreciation. I never would have thought this silly little blog would allow me to travel the country and contribute to the greater running community in such a new and innovative way with video and social media. I was stoked.
My flight had a layover in Dallas. This is when shit hit the fan. Upon taking off from Boston, I quickly fell asleep having lived off of no more than 4 hrs of sleep a night for 5 nights. I awoke to not only the plane hitting the tarmac, but my phone vibrating like crazy in my pocket. I thought I had set an alarm, but when I pulled the phone out, I saw that I was receiving hundreds of text messages at once. The very first thought that popped into my head – and trust me, I know how ridiculous and selfish it sounds – was that a commercial I had filmed aired on television and everyone was texting me to tell me they saw it. This thought quickly dashed out of my mind when the first text I opened read, “Are you still alive?? Just heard about the bombs in Boston”. My heart stopped. Everything shattered. The two diva teen girls sitting next to me watching some Hannah Montana garbage faded away as my world suddenly became so dark and focused as if I was suddenly wearing horse blinders. The only thing I could see, hear or touch were those words on my screen: ARE YOU STILL ALIVE.
Wading through the hundreds of texts, many from my immediate family who, as I read, had NO idea that I was on a plane and thought I was still in Boston, broke my heart. Many people thought I was running the marathon. Many I had not talked to in years. So many people wanting to know if I was alive. I had to focus on contacting the most important people first – I was literally triaging my contact list. I contacted my girlfriend who had since told all my immediate family I was OK, I made sure to contact my parents and siblings, and then it hit me. The Newton Running crew. They were still there, and most likely making their way to the finish line to greet their elite runner as he finished. I texted Brandon who quickly got back and verified they were all safe. Then it sunk in that I had met handfuls of awesome fans, friends, and new followers that were running. How in the world would I find out if they were all ok?? AND WHAT HAD ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN BOSTON??
See, all of this communication took place in the 20 minute window of my layover as I raced from one plane to the next. I had yet to know what actually happened at the finish line. Then I saw it. As I sat at my new terminal, I glanced up at a TV screen and saw the video being replayed on the screen. Tears. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t keep it together. What if my flight was 1 hour later? What if I was running in this race? What if I was at the finish line like I was the night before? What if, what if, what if? All the questions came racing to my mind and sunk in. The fact that these bombs went off at the 4:09 mark of a marathon just broke me. The people who cross at this time (and trust me, I know) are some of the hardest working, most inspirational athletes I know. I just couldn’t believe it. And as soon as I was communicating with the outside world, I had to board my next flight and would be incomunicado for another 4 hrs.
Needless to say, this was a long and exhausting day – for many people. By the time I landed in LA, I had been awake for 20 hours but was in no hurry to sleep. I still had so many people to follow up on and make sure everyone was safe. As news flooded in from those I knew in Boston, I knew I had to make a video. Those who had been following along all weekend with my videos had started commenting on each of them, wondering if I was ok. I wanted to not only make a video for them to let them know I was safe, and very fortunate, but to also make a video for those who were still suffering in Boston and for those members of the community I now call family. Now that it is a week later, the 2 bombing suspects have been identified, one captured, I think I am ready to share my experience all in one place. The following 5 videos document the weekend from Thursday April 11th to Monday April 15th, 2013. It’s eery to watch them and see all the smiling faces now knowing what that race had in store – particularly video 4. But I am lucky. I am lucky to have these memories from a distinct moment in history, not only for myself and the running community family, but for my country. Now when I run, I remember Boston. And I tell you what, I’ve never wanted to run the Boston Marathon more.
BOSTON MARATHON DAY 1
BOSTON MARATHON DAY 2
BOSTON MARATHON DAY 3
BOSTON MARATHON DAY 4
BOSTON MARATHON – THE FINAL DAY
Tags: 2013 Boston Marathon, best, bomb, bomber, boston common, boylston, charles, crew, day, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, document, elite, ethan newberry, expo, fast, finish, footage, ginger, ginger runner, log, marathon, newton running, race, run, runner, running, slow, trail, Video, vlog, worst