Tag: memorial

Boston Memorial Series Part II: Derderian & Haber

As we prepare for the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy, Level Renner is re-releasing the memorials and reflections of the running community written one year ago in the wake of the 117th running (these letters from readers were originally published in our May/June 2013 issue). Our intention is to pay proper respect and tribute to the events of last year’s race. We want nothing more than to handle the tragedy with appropriateness and tact. Because we see ourselves as an open platform for runners, this series is an expression of our audience’s thoughts from a year ago.  Thus, in the following pages, you will find an array of responses.  Some are angry, some are numb, most are just plain sad.  But some offer hope. Most show the strength and resolve of our community. The goal of this series is to remember and pay proper respect to the horrific events of April 15, 2013.  We will release one post per day in this series in the days leading up to the marathon.

Below is the second installment of a twelve part series. Two responses are within, one from Tom Derderian, president of USATF-NE and one from Nich Haber, founder and president of the New England Distance Project. 

Like nearly everyone touched by the bombings at the finish of the Boston Marathon we are shocked, angered, and sad. We are shocked because we are the governing body of sport, recreation, and essentially, play. People compete in the marathon and follow the race as something aside from the horrors of the world but are now part of those enormities. We are angry because people have been hurt and murdered for reasons that cannot possibly justify the crimes, and we are sad because of the pain and loss in our community. Most officers and employees of USATF-NE were at the marathon. Some worked as volunteers at the finish line so were quite close to the explosions. Others were racing or watching. We are relieved that none were hurt. At USATF we have held safety in the utmost importance in conducting events when we issue sanctions. As we wish the best recovery to those injured and their families we will spend the coming months thinking hard about how to make our sports the safe and joyous events they are intended to be.

Tom Derderian, President of USATF-NE

boston marathon tribute 2 flags ejn 4.5.14

photo by EJN

My heart goes out to the victims and their families.  The marathon is personal. Everyone who connects with it has a personal experience with the event. It was what rescued New York City back in 2001 and reminded everyone what was important: How we individually strive to be our best. How we can collectively bring out the best in each other. How people from all over the world can come together and celebrate life. How we can get inspired watching others do something simple and beautiful.

Yesterday was an attack, not just on these ideas, but on the actual way we prove these concepts are valuable.  I have no doubts that the person or people who did this will be caught. I hope it is soon.

I am upset that the marathon as I know it will forever be changed and be linked to violent craziness.  Not sure what else to do right now, so I guess I’ll go for a run.

Nich Haber, founder of NE Distance

 

Boston Memorial Series Part I: Joe Navas

As we prepare for the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy, Level Renner is re-releasing the memorials and reflections of the running community in the wake of the 117th running (these letters from readers were originally published in our May/June 2013 issue). Our intention is to pay proper respect and tribute to the events of last year’s race. We want nothing more than to handle the tragedy with appropriateness and tact. Because we see ourselves as an open platform for runners, this series is an expression of our audience’s thoughts from a year ago.  Thus, in the following pages, you will find an array of responses.  Some are angry, some are numb, most are just plain sad.  But some offer hope. Most show the strength and resolve of our community. The goal of this series is to remember and pay proper respect to the horrific events of April 15, 2013.  We will release one post per day in this series in the days leading up to the marathon.

Below is the first installment of a twelve part series. It is a response from Joe Navas who ran last year’s Boston Marathon.

The mind remembers but the body recalls and the two seemingly speak a different language in times of distress.

I ran a marathon two days ago. I always feel tired after running a marathon, in all ways. I always enter new territory psychologically, because I am not the person I was when I ran the last one.

I am older, though not wiser or less so. I am built differently, though neither faster nor slower. I am always slightly more fearful, no matter how well the previous one went, as if I feel like I’m either cheating the odds by hoping to have continuous “good” ones or getting what simply must eventually happen per order of the nature of the beast.

But today, I am simply exhausted. My legs ache, but I am neither pained nor frustrated by that. My brain, normally a whirlwind of thought, creative processes, lists of tasks, and anxiety about things important and trivial, is a shapeless bag of gray quiet.

My legs and my head began to speak illegible bits of prose to each other at 3:00 pm on Monday. They haven’t communicated properly since.

Is it because the legs are waiting in vain for the joy from the head to arrive, in order for them to feel ok about the pain? Is it the head all caught up in itself? Seeking to feel anything besides the languid, wrung out fatigue it’s working in and looking to the statistics on the page to relieve it?

Instead, all it sees is the look on my wife’s face when we heard the first blast. All it sees is my naiveté reflected in her eyes when, even after the second one, some idiot inside my mouth actually said, “Maybe it was a transformer getting overloaded.” All it sees is her making a game out of getting to the car to try to distract our 15 year-old son from the fact that we were both panicked, frightened, and claustrophobic.

We didn’t see smoke, as we were somewhere behind Copley. We didn’t see panicked onlookers, as word hadn’t gotten to them yet. We quickly decided that the only thing to do was to get through the crowd, get to the car and try to make it out. It wasn’t “Every man for himself,” so much as it was “I want my family to be safe from whatever this is and oh my god I love them.”

For two days I’ve talked about it, read about it, listened to everything I could about it. I’ve gone from trying to find out details to somehow make it more fathomable to looking for stories that can prove to me that the world has real, healing good left in it, not just slogans  pretending everything will be ok. I need acts that show me that the first instinct of the human animal is to love, and to love is to help and to help is to sacrifice. I keep watching the video of Tommy Meagher just instinctively going right in to help, without even giving it a second thought and I convince myself that there are more people like him, even though I’ve been quite certain for years there’s only one Tom Meagher.

Would I have helped and sacrificed if I was there and not a mere 600 yards away? I won’t say “I’d like to think, yes,” I can say, “Yes.” But here I was, afraid of what came from a sound, a big sound that rattled my guts and forced me to run on legs that had sat unused on a palatial, swallowing mattress in a luxurious room at the Fairmont Copley.

I’ve been riddled with a feeling that is heavy like guilt, though I cannot for the life of me figure out why. It’s as if I would prefer to transmit the collective pain of this action through something familiar, so I try to call shame from incidents that litter my life as they do anyone’s, perhaps as an alternative to facing the full brunt of the reality that is this inexplicably cruel cowardice perpetrated on people who never knew their own killers.

But I don’t have the energy. Not now. I am exhausted. So I go back to the trivial, that on which the legs and mind can agree.

I ran a good race. Not my fastest, but the most satisfying marathon I’ve had in years. I don’t know why it felt like this. I had to stop three times to use the Bouse House. I never got a good groove going. I felt like I was carrying a large water balloon somewhere just north of my bladder. Somehow, it didn’t matter. I was satisfied, and tremendously so. But of course, this is all well before any of the bad stuff happened. I am no believer in anything besides this physical plane, but I do have a part of me that wonders if my body felt a hinting rhythm that it translated into “You won’t be able to enjoy any of this soon enough, so you’d better soak it all in now.”

I usually follow a race with a lengthy poring over of statistics, stories of others’ travails, rehashed and rehashed memories of the tiniest minutia regarding the event. All running, all the time.

I don’t want to know how the Sox did, I want to see Reno beaming about 2:47 at age 58, and Ian, and Chris and I want to talk about how I saw Brendan Lynch after the ½, because it’s not Boston without seeing Brendan. I want to hear about Sim. I want to know if Lindsay’s leg held up (seems it did).

I want to hear the stories of people of all shapes and speeds and I love them because to simply pay attention to my own experience amidst something so huge and shared en masse is little more than a one-dimensional take on the whole thing. This is my recovery, this is my connection, this is my psychology, my massage, my stamina returning. My legs get the ok like a phone call from my brain and they start to feel better, as the aches that remain recall specific hills and the ones that retreat brace themselves for a return to those same hills.

boston marathon tribute card ejn 4.5.14

photo by EJN

But the above connection is not there, or if it is, it’s passing information that I cannot decipher. So I sit back as a bystander and read the papers, the newsfeeds and try to find a way through the bad to the good.  It’s tough to find this path when the mind and body ache in a way that cannot simply be healed with time or Advil or bananas or recovery runs.

Time does nothing. Time is merely space decreasing the volume of a sound that has bludgeoned your ears and soon enough becomes little more than a taunting distant echo, but one that is constant and you can’t figure out why it won’t finally go away.

It’s because time doesn’t erase it, it just moves it further afield, spreads it out, allows it to become diluted and dispersed into everything. Just like the only way to get over the wall is to go through it. If you try to run around it, you’ll just keep making it wider.

To get over this pain, you’ve got to go through it. But going through anything takes energy, and for right now, that energy is…exhausted.

—Joe Navas, Senior Columnist for Level Renner

 

 

Memorial Bridge In The News

Tom Derderian‘s proposed memorial footbridge is gaining some attention and hopefully some momentum. The bridge would replace an old, unpleasant looking footbridge and serve to honor the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured during the marathon bombing (and ensuing manhunt).

We’re a couple of days late to this party (although we did first post about it back in May), but there is some benefit to trailing in a case like this. As the story fades in the various social media news feeds, it can only help to bring it right back to the spotlight and get people talking about it again. So we hope to sort of consolidate some information/links here and get people talking about it again.

In case you missed it, here’s Tom’s CBS Boston interview and accompanying article:

Boston Marathon Historian Proposes Footbridge To Honor Bombing Victims

The bridge was also the feature in a Runnersworld.com article by Scott Douglas:

Boston Marathon Historian Wants Memorial Running Bridge

I can certainly see the merits of the argument that the bridge would be at risk for vandalism in that spot given the condition of the current bridge. But the current bridge has a dark, cage-like feel to it. If the bridge were brighter and more open, a shining memorial to so many people (to a city even), it just seems hard to believe that anybody would desecrate it. Another thing to consider is that perhaps in that exact spot it might be at risk, but if it’s moved a bit away from there, in either direction, perhaps that would make a difference. What are your thoughts on this?

Memorial Bridge

At the most recent USATF-NE board meeting (held on Monday, May 6th), association president Tom Derderian presented an artist’s rendition of a new footbridge in Boston. The bridge would not only replace the current eyesore, but would also memorialize the victims of the bombing and a be symbol of the strength of the community and the race.

Of the proposed bridge, Tom said:

“Yes, the Boston Marathon Bombings have shocked, angered, and saddened us. USATF-NE has made a cash donation. Now it is time to plan for a lasting memorial to the victims, the race, and the community. At Monday’s USATF-NE board we unanimously approved a concept for a running gateway bridge over the Mass Pike connecting the Boston University area with the Allston/Harvard area. There is already an aging, ugly bridge there, but the proposed span would arch the highway with signage that would greet visitors to the Boston Stong/Marathon City. Competitors to the marathon would pass under the bridge into the city and on buses out to the starting line. Mayor Menino  said, “I’m proud to say that the car is no longer king in Boston.”  This running/cycling bridge would show the mayor’s vision to visitors and residents. Bridges are symbolic as ways to bring people together and that is something that runners and the larger community need in the wake of the bombing. Such easements to exercise are of course good public health measures.”

The bridge in question that this one would replace is by the Regina Pizzeria in Allston, where the Mass Pike goes under Cambridge St. It certainly is an ambitious project and will take a lot of hard work and cooperation to get done, but with a little luck we could soon have an inspiring arch welcoming people into the city.

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