Tag: pray for boston

Theraflu and Whiskey

Guest blog by Jason Ayr

So what do we talk about when referencing the 2013 Boston Marathon?  I, like many others, feel a sense of guilt in recounting my race experience from a running perspective.  It is, however, important for us to talk about our races.  Our races are what make this event so special.  How very special this event is has not gone away, nor should the stories of our races.

The marathon matures you in many ways.  The long efforts after a work day, the execution of willpower during your taper, and the mental battle over the final miles are unlike any other racing experience and they mature you.  In the running world it is a guaranteed long term goal; an “all your eggs in one basket” challenge no matter how you look at it.  A disappointing result in this race requires the patience to prepare and race another.

I felt pretty good about my training going into the 2013 Boston Marathon.  It was by no means perfect, but it was a vast improvement on anything I had done before it.  I attribute this to coming off my first competitive marathon in October 2012 and my growth as a runner resulting from this race.  All was looking good, until the Friday before the race…

I broke out with a 103 degree fever Friday night and the idea of racing drifted away.  In all honesty, I was feeling bad for myself.

Screen shot of a Google chat conversation between EJN and Jason, less than 24 hrs before the gun went off. Luckily he didn't need any cowbell.

Screen shot of a Google chat conversation between EJN and Jason, less than 24 hrs before the gun went off. Luckily he didn’t need any cowbell.

Saturday was spent drinking a Theraflu and whiskey combination recommended by a Lady Wolf and chugging water in between naps.  I tried to remain focused on the marathon, but it became a bit of a fairytale idea when my symptoms were up.  The body aches were not jiving with the “above the neck” symptoms I was reading about in my countless Google searches for “racing with fever”.  Saturday was not a good day for the body, but I forced my mind to remain on the race.  I owe that to the Wolfpack.

Sunday my symptoms had vastly improved.  I was congested, but my fever was down and my back aches were gone.  I trotted a 4 mile jog to evaluate my situation and besides some very stiff legs I was feeling optimistic.  I attributed my heavy legs to my 36 hour stint in bed to keep the thoughts positive about racing.  It was time to head to the Expo and pick up my packet before 6PM.

One complete scan of the Hynes Convention Center and I was pumping with adrenaline from head to toe.  I was still eating Zicam like skittles and drinking water until my pipes hurt, but I was feeling the race atmosphere and confidence was growing.  I made it a main objective to keep the bout with sickness out of my mind; the marathon puts enough doubt in your head, no room for extra baggage.

Monday came and excitement ruled the morning with subtle fear coming along for the ride.  I executed a nice 7:30 mile warm-up with drills and entered the corral about 8 minutes before the gun – perfect timing thus far. I was relaxed and ready.

Jason and Brandon working together. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Jason and Brandon working together. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Out in 5:29 – IDEAL. I settled into a nice group with Brandon Newbould and some other non-New England runners. We were a solid bunch and there was a fair amount of work shared. We came through half in 1:11:22 off of pretty even splits. I was very excited with this, but there were some lingering doubts that drifted in and out from as early as mile 4. I was able to continually convince myself that these doubts were a result of the “excuse” I had in my back pocket – that I was “sick”. I wasn’t playing that game, so I continually pushed them away. As Dave Johnson and I talked about earlier on Sunday, if I was really being affected by the sickness I would know right away, so no carrying that crutch for the inevitably hard parts of this grueling event. Moving forward with my recount we will forget about the sickness all together, it had no effect on my day.

Going into Newton I was actually gaining confidence. I began shining through as one of the stronger ones in the pack I was running with and pulled away on some of the uphill stretches. My splits slowed to 5:38-40, but since I was stretching out my pack I knew these slower splits were a result of the hill and I had no concerns. It was not until Heartbreak Hill when I knew the day would feature a real struggle to get to the line. This is a typical timeline for a Boston runner as I gather. I fought hard for my 6:05′s through the final 10 kilometers of the course. I was inspired by fans at some points and too numb to hear at others. The self-doubt was the hardest battle being fought – in my head. My body was in a state of work that it was not happy with, but able to maintain, as long as my head stayed out of its way.

Turning onto Boylston was magic. The dip of the sewer at the turn I have learned about in the Duel in the Sun to the beautiful Blue and Yellow archway awaiting my arrival – simply amazing.

I finished and hobbled my immediately sore body through the shoots and towards baggage pick-up. I hopped a T back towards my family at Washington Square via Arlington Station. My time was barely a PR and several minutes off my goal, but I was legitimately happy with myself for the effort. Even more so than Chicago I believe I left it all out there.

The marathon is interesting. It is true what they say, this race humbles you. In a shorter event the failure to obtain a goal time results in a depressing analysis of what went wrong. In a marathon the only variable that can be controlled is your effort. Because of this, if you controlled that variable appropriately, there is no analysis to be done. For this day I controlled that variable to the best of my current abilities. There is room for improvement, but as I see it this day was an improvement on all days that came before it. There really isn’t much else you can expect.

And then the tragedy.  At about three o’clock my mother called from a nearby apartment, urging us to get off the street and hurry inside.  There was still celebration at mile 23 and leaving this party was not what I wanted to do, but her voice was serious and nervous when it rang, ‘Two bombs have gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon”.  It took the walk back for the news to settle as my initial response was purely to calm my nervous mother.

Everything that I wrote above now looks so selfish and meaningless, but I had to write it. If we weren’t faced with this tragedy that is what I would have written on the experience, so that is my experience as of 3:00PM Monday. By 5:00PM it was as if the racing never happened.

I sat and stared at the TV watching the replay of the bombs with my family and friends who had come to cheer.  Twenty-seven thousand runners had spent months – years – trying to reach this finish line.  Now they were running away.  It was a place that I had so recently experienced emotions of pure joy.  Now it was a place of fear.

I said a couple weeks ago that if everyone was training for an endurance event there would be world peace. I believe this to be true. The cowards that committed these acts were not runners. This is an absolute fact. It has to be. How we heal is by sharing our tool for peace with the world. It may not seem important, but it is.

With all the respect in the world for those tragically affected by Monday’s events, my eyes are set on Boston 2014. Respect the Boston Marathon.

It’s easy to feel guilty when it comes to talking about your race, but as Jason said it’s important that we do discuss this. His is a great example of an inspirational story to come out of it, and I’m sure that there are many more out there. We need to share the triumphs, while helping those affected by the tragedy. Once again, thanks to Scott Mason for use of his great work. Check out Scott Mason Photography for more shots from this race and many other events.

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Got ‘Em!

Douchegoblin in custody. Thank you to all the hard working first responders & law enforcement officials for taking care of this so quickly. #BostonStrong




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Boston Marathon Links

boston marathon blue ribbon png 4.16.13Here’s a list of links of relevant stories coming out of this tragedy. Some are disgusting, others are inspirational. There’s a mix of good and bad, but unfortunately that’s the situation we’re dealing with now. We can’t ignore the bad and hope it’ll go away, and we can’t over look the good that came out of it.

Just learned today that Jeff Bauman woke up in the hospital and helped crack the case. Amazing story.

Are they looting? The video doesn’t look good. Some of them could be bringing jackets to people that need them, but it’s tough to say for sure.

Some people sell medals after marathons, and I personally see nothing wrong with that. Selling anything after this race just seems all kinds of wrong to me. Shockingly (or not?) there appears to be a market for it.

Thor Kirleis ran a very impressive double marathon on Monday. His uplifting story, like all the others was marred by what happened after. Check this out for his account of both the triumph and the tragedy.

One of the most repeated concerns I heard in the aftermath of all this was about Tom Meagher. One line from the article jumped out at me:

“Probably all up and down Boylston Street, they’re going to have police standing at every corner searching every single bag,” he added. Whereas, late in the day, he used to let people down on the course to hug a loved one or drop on a knee to propose, he supposes those days are over now.

It’s all very preliminary now, but we can probably expect to hear a lot more along those lines.

Tim Ritchie ran a 2:21 on Monday, and then also wrote a pretty compelling blog entry about the ordeal: For Here All Are One

The Runners World newswire has been a very good source this week, and here are a couple of stories I wanted to pass along:

This one goes into some more detail about what happened at the Marathon Sports store. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that this store is a pillar of the running community in Boston. We’re all eagerly awaiting it’s re-opening, and hope that the Marathon Sports family is okay.

There was an entry providing the perspective of some of the elite runners, and included in that was Sheri Piers. Sheri ran another great race (2:39) and luckily made it out of there unscathed.

By now you must’ve seen this gem from Stephen Colbert:

We’ll try to get some more material out at some point today. There’s a lot we want to pass along to you, but sometimes it’s not the easiest call to make (like right now with the manhunt all over TV).

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Help Needed

Special guest blog by Sarah Crispin

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13On Monday my good friend Patrick and his new wife were both hurt in the Boston Marathon Bombings.  My understanding is that they each lost a leg, and are currently in different hospitals. Right now it looks like they are both going to be okay.

I have not yet had the good fortune to meet Patrick’s wife, but Patrick was a friend of mine from The Gifford School. We carpooled together every day for my first two years at Gifford, worked together, and often went out to watch (what else) the Red Sox.

You will not find a better person. He is the kindest, most selfless man I have ever met. I have every confidence that he will handle this with the grace, style, and infallible humor that characterize him. I wish I possibly had adequate words to describe how very, truly, GOOD he is. He’s the kind of person who is there when the chips are down, miraculously appears when your car needs to be jump started, and knows when you just need a hug and no words. I absolutely love him and am heart broken that he is among the affected.

I know that he and his wife are going to have loads of medical expenses as a result of this tragedy. I’m pasting the link to Patrick’s fundraising page below. If you have a second, take a look at it. If you have a few extra dollars, please donate. If you don’t, that is really, truly, OK, but please leave a message of support. Anything is helpful.

To my Team: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To everyone: There are lots of you seeing this (again, I am so lucky), so please DO fwd this to anyone who you think might be able and willing to help. Post it on Facebook, tweet about it, send it to all of your coworkers, your entire class, your entire team, etc., anything to get it out there.

Quick aside, also to everyone: It’s worth noting that Tim Ritchie ran 2:21 (5:24 mile pace) in his marathon debut on Monday, coming in 25th overall. That is nasty. Katie Sheedy, my former 800m training partner at Tufts, ran 2:58 (6:50 mile pace). Sorry guys, but you deserve new fans! Their hard work and grueling efforts should not be overlooked.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this and to think of my friend Patrick.


Lots of love, forever and always.


It’s More Than Just The Race…

Lindsay Willard’s experience shows us all that the journey leading up to it is just as much a part of it.

Guest blog by Lindsay Willard

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13Today I am writing my account of Monday, April 15th as a participant in an event that will forever be stamped on my timeline. This is my viewpoint as a runner, a team member, and a Massachusetts native. I am not special, but this day was special to me for so many reasons. Marathon Monday is as much of a holiday to me as Patriots Day represents. It is a day to be honored that celebrates heroism, sacrifice, and a battle of emotional and physical hardships. The Boston Marathon is the ultimate goal after more than 16 weeks of grueling miles, early rises, weight room sessions, speed intervals, hill repeats, frozen fingers and toes, physical therapy appointments, carbo-loading, and hydrating… all in hopes of seeing that beautiful finishing time on the clock by the grandstand on Boylston Street.

My training cycle was marred with many setbacks, several injuries, and several instances of possibly giving up before the actual starting line. I have battled IT Band strains, Plica Band Syndrome and Bursitis on the knee, Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica too… and finally the decision to get minor surgery this April. So many things get in the way of a runner making it to the starting line healthy, and I honestly can’t think of a Marathon where I was at 100% – but can anyone else? I worked with a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and an orthopedist to get me to Hopkinton on Monday. I knew it was going to hurt a lot more than just because we were about to run 26.2 miles, and faster than we had ever done on even the most intense training runs. But my biggest fear was being left out of it all.

There was so much to look forward to if I could possibly rally and have a good day on that knee. I would cry so much more over missing the experience to try, than over the pain itself. I would have all of this to look forward to:

Get dropped off in Copley at 6:45am, find my seat on the team bus, sit with friends and nervously go over strategies, eat weird mealy protein filled sports bars, listen to pump-up songs in my iPod in the highschool gymnasium, tie team colored ribbons in my pony tail, make 6 trips to the VIP porta-potties, pack 3 GU gels into my sports bra, rub Body Glide all over my inner legs and arms, tie and re-tie my racing shoes 4 times, take that long walk to the starting corral, size up the competition in the pack around me, waddle towards the sounds of the announcers, start my watch as I look down at the blue paint in the masses of the town square, calm myself down over the downhill first mile, complain about my knee for the first 5K, check my form in the store windows in Framingham, ditch my gloves to a cheering friend, accidentally pour Gatorade down my back instead of water, give high-fives to all the girls outside Wellesley College, say screw it to pacing for a few miles – this knee seems ready to go now, wave and blow a kiss to my parents at mile 14, wave to my friend Jen as we cross I-95, smile at my co–workers by Newton Wellesley Hospital, start having the dry heaves at the Newton Fire Station, cramp up and start crying over stomach issues in the second hill, tell my buddy Jason to leave me behind, contemplate walking up Heartbreak to make the stomach stop turning over, wonder what the hell I ate, try to rally as I turn at Cleveland Circle, grab my sides to work out the cramps through Fenway, smell the sidewalk BBQs of BU students, realize that my quads are shutting down from those early downhill miles, debate whether to put any more water on this fire in my belly, cry again as I see my goal time slipping away on my Garmin, hear the roar and the cowbells of the crowds as I turn onto Hereford, stop staring down and look at the balloons that seem so far away on Boylston, feel like I am running vertical – desperately trying to beat the 2:50, reach for it, reach for it, suck it up and raise my arms high for a good picture under the clock, come to a complete stop on the blue mats as the knees buckle, get wheeled into the Medical, and finally… get that tin foil blanket and finisher’s medal wrapped around me.

That was my adventure, or so I thought. That was my Boston Marathon 2013. That is something that can never be taken away from me. What ensued in the hours following my finish were tragic and devastating. The innocence of a city has been lost. Lives were taken. Men, women and children were gravely injured. Fear was brought to the masses, and thousands experienced tears of terror instead of tears of joy and accomplishment.

I was lucky to have finished, to have my health, and to have my family and friends safe. I was fortunate enough to be a safe distance away when the explosions went off. I was in the company of my parents in the Prudential when firing went off… the building shook, alarms went off, stampedes broke out, and we were put into lock-down for several hours. The scare we faced inside the shopping plaza was nothing in comparison to what was happening out on the streets. What I saw out the windows was unreal. I don’t understand it. I can hardly believe it. It makes me sad. It makes me terribly angry. But thankfully – it does not deter me in the least of wanting to be here again next Marathon Monday. I don’t want to keep re-living it, but I will never forget it. And I am so proud of the signs I see everywhere “Boston Strong”.

I saw Paul Hammond (aka Goose) at the expo on Sunday and he expressed concern over the status of Lindsay’s knee. We should probably stop worrying about that since she appears to be some type of running cyborg. You don’t win the USATF-NE Grand Prix series and Runner of the Year awards by being soft. A big part of the allure of the marathon is the journey, the peaks and valleys one goes through on their way to the starting line. Lindsay fought her way through the peaks and valleys and then through a physical ordeal during the race. For that, we tip our collective cap to her.

Marathon runners are a tough bunch. They are people that choose to deal with pain and adversity on a regular basis and come out the other side stronger. And so we will here, together. We are including the link below on all posts for the foreseeable future for anyone who wishes to give.

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Let’s Do This The Right Way

Guest blog by Michael Robertson

boston marathon blue ribbon png 4.16.13It has been truly remarkable seeing the reactions of Bostonians, and non-Bostonians, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The stories of people helping people under the worst of circumstances are countless and inspiring. Everyone is looking for a way to honor those in the bombing and, in many respects, the day itself, but we have got to do it in the right way.

In the rush to put together commemorative events, including running/walking the last 5 miles of the course (which I understand has now been postponed), rerunning the entire Boston Marathon course, and walking in the last mile, I strongly feel that the best of intentions and noblest of thoughts have obscured careful consideration of the reality of the situation we are faced with. As I understand it, the Boston Police Department has asked that these events not take place right now. They are not city-sanctioned and do not have the proper permits. This would be a concern for events of the planned magnitude at any time and it is especially worrying at this time. The investigations are obviously still continuing, there are police officers and soldiers with machine guns lining our streets and guarding our hotels. Let’s not take their focus away from their all-important task by crowding the streets with thousands, or even dozens of people, however well-intentioned they may be.

I’m not saying don’t go out and run/walk. I’m not even saying don’t run as a group. What I am saying is please reconsider any sort of mass activity along the marathon course and certainly in the vicinity of Copley Square. I am 100% certain there will be an event in the near future that has the support of the BPD and the City. Be patient, keep your spirits up and keep supporting each other.  The time will come for us all to band together and show our support for the fallen, the wounded, and the thousands who could not cross the finish line on Patriot’s Day.  Let’s just make sure that, when that time comes, we do so the right way.

Editor’s Note: The outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragic event is incredible. So many people are mobilizing to show support in a variety of ways and it’s very uplifting to witness it all. As well intentioned as these gatherings on the marathon course are, it’s still just too soon.

We all want swift justice here and the best way to do that is to give the hardworking law enforcement officials their space. Bringing a mass of people into Boston this weekend will be doing just the opposite of that and will most likely further stress an already over-stressed group of people.

The closer one gets to the epicenter of it all, the more caution and consideration that’s needed. There are plenty of other ways to show your support and I hope people will consider those other options, at least until some normalcy returns to Boston.

You can do something as simple as wearing marathon gear, there will be various fundraisers held all over, you can donate online, City Sports is organizing runs, even UMass football has gotten involved and invited runners to finish on their field during a special ceremony.

There’s also going to be a big fundraising running event hosted by the Western Mass Distance Project at Stanley Park in Westfield, MA this Sunday. Details for that will be passed along as they continue to develop, both here and on their own website.

There seems to be some sentiment out there that runs along the Boston course need to happen now to show that the marathon is not dead. I have a problem with that line of thinking. First of all, the marathon can’t be killed. Second of all, people are more motivated for it now than ever, which means it’s more alive than ever. The marathon is a special distance that requires a lot of respect, so the best way to show that the marathon isn’t dead is to respect the race: put your nose to the grindstone and get out there and make Boston 2014 your mission. By steering clear of Boston (specifically Back Bay) we’d be showing law enforcement some respect, while also still paying tribute to those affected.

Thank you for being active and showing your support, but please be considerate of all the elements involved.

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Monday: Triumph Amidst the Tragedy

Guest blog by Rob Gomez

When Eric first asked me to write a guest blog for Level Renner, I balked. My account of the events that unfolded on Monday, April 15th, 2013 seemed very insignificant. The tragedy that occurred on Boylston St has been recounted so thoroughly and from so many different viewpoints, and the impact that this tragedy will have on the Boston Marathon has been prognosticated very eloquently by hundreds of writers and bloggers.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that every person involved in Monday’s events should share their story in order to help our tightly-knit running community understand, heal and grow together. And of course, no story of Monday’s events is complete without including the backdrop of the marathon itself – that’s what we all came together to celebrate in the first place, and that’s what will continue to bring us together in the future. My story is no more important than anyone else’s, but sharing it will help me understand, heal and grow.

I can best recount my day on Monday as a series of sharp moments protruding abruptly from a cloudy lake of emotions. Here’s a timeline of those moments.

Rob, before horrifying the co-ed (bandana still on his head). Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Rob, before horrifying the co-ed (bandana still on his head). Courtesy of Scott Mason.

3:55 AM: I’m up and I’m not going back to sleep. The gears are turning in my head.

5:25 AM: Choking down the last eight ounces of beet juice. I’ve been pounding this stuff for two weeks straight with the promise that the influx of nitrates will improve my efficiency in oxygen consumption. It’s almost not worth it.

7:05 AM: Kirby has to pull over on I-90 because I have to piss so badly. Good to know that my body is ramping into race mode.

7:45 AM: Grabbing some duct tape for my torn gear bag from a very nice couple in Hopkinton that’s just handing out free stuff to anyone who needs it. Their daughters are doing cartwheels and playing catch in between handing out band-aids. Maybe this was a bit of foreshadowing for the kind of goodwill that so many people showed later in the day.

8:35 AM: Sitting on my throne of cardboard next to Lauren in the Athlete’s Village, propped up against a tent pole, listening to “Recover” by CHRVCHES. Jeff loves this song. I’m reminded of how he got me back into running. I’m out here for him today.

9:55 AM: The guy next to me wonders why his 2:22 at St. George didn’t get him into the Elite corral. I keep my mouth shut.

10:15 AM: So I’m still only a few steps off the lead pack and we’re almost three miles in. Yeah, this isn’t aggressive at all.

10:35 AM: I need to slow down.

10:40 AM: Screw it, I’m not slowing down.

10:55 AM: I’m running through the center of Natick, spectators three deep it seems, and there’s absolutely no one around me. Naturally, I throw my hands up to get a better reception. I’m a sucker for a big crowd.

11:10 AM: I throw my American flag bandana at an unsuspecting Wellesley co-ed. Her expression is of pure disgust.

11:25 AM: Vassallo looks as giddy as a schoolgirl as he jogs with me for a few paces and offers me Gu (which I should have taken). I’m out here for him today, too.

11:35 AM: Just stay relaxed on the hills. Stay RELAXED. A few more miles and you can cruise the rest of the way.

11:45 AM: And there go the wheels. I do not want to take another step. Wow that happened quickly.

12:05 PM: I want to be done with this sh*t.

12:20 PM: I’m looking for my parents and I can’t see them.

12:22 PM: Holy crap, I might not even PR.

12:25 PM: Denise Robson finishes just ahead of me. She turns around, gives me a big hug, and we stumble forward together for a minute. I promise to see her at Cabot in just over a month.

12:40 PM: It feels like I’m walking on stilts. My parents are trying to get from Boylston to Stuart to meet me without the help of a smartphone. A random group of Latino adolescents want their picture with me.

1:45 PM: I give my dad a hug before he leaves, a good hug. We never really hug anymore, just bro-hugs and good-natured razzing.

2:30 PM: I decide to depart the Marriott for the Cheesecake Factory with everyone else in the room instead of sticking to my original plan of meeting Mary and Co. at the Cactus Club. I feel bad about it but text Mary to tell her I’ll make it down there shortly.

3:00 PM: While waiting for a seat at Cheesecake I notice people flooding, running, sprinting down the Prudential Plaza escalators and stairs to the exits. Looks like a good idea to follow suit.

3:05 PM: People everywhere. Emergency vehicles are flying into the square. No one really knows what the hell is going on. Everyone is wearing confused and anxious expressions. Steve says he heard two sounds in succession that sounded like a tailgate slamming down. I see one woman on the phone, bawling. We walk away from the square with no destination in mind.

3:10 PM: I call my mom. She and my dad are already on a bus headed back to Portland. I tell her I have no idea what has happened but that they’ll probably hear about it and that I’m fine.

3:15 PM: Finally getting word through Twitter. BREAKING: Explosion near the finish line. And Jon and I were headed back towards the Cactus Club.

3:25 PM: My phone is constantly vibrating now. It seems like the most logical thing to do is to head back to the hotel.

3:30 PM: I pass a couple of white guys verbally assaulting a person that appears to be of Middle Eastern descent. Can’t believe this is happening already.

4:00 PM: The NBC Boston channel keeps showing the blast video over and over. I can’t get through to anyone.

4:30 PM: Mary’s at MIT. Sheri is under lockdown in the Fairmont with Al and her kids. I’m so thankful that Juliette isn’t here in the middle of all this with me. Lauren tells me via text to meet her at her sister’s place on O Street and we can catch a ride home from there.

4:45 PM: There’s a drunk guy giving some firefighters crap for not letting him through the barricade in front of the Marriott.

5:15 PM: Walking next to a young couple pushing their 3-month-old back to their car in South Boston. They offer to give myself and Jon a ride the rest of the way to O Street. This kindness is so encouraging on a day like this. Gives me hope.

5:55 PM: Juliette calls me and her voice shakes as she tells me she’s watching the news about the “Boston Bomb”. I finally cry.

7:30 PM: On the way home with Lauren and her parents. Lauren looks a little washed out from the events of the day but sitting next to her brings a sense of calm to me. An ambulance merges onto I-93 right next to us, sirens on. I’m so numb to sirens at this point that I make no effort to turn my neck to look at it.

11:15 PM: Slouched over motionless on the couch at home, phone put away, the bulb over the stove the only source of light. I can hear the peepers from the pond across the street making a racket. Sweetest racket I’ve heard all day. I resolve then and there to run Boston in 2014.

The night before the race, Rob and Seth Hasty invited me to come by their room to hang out for a little bit. It was good to see them and talk shop a bit the night before the big race. Rob told me about his beet juice regiment and even gave me a “shot” of it. It reminded me of being a college freshman all over again, with the “wise” senior giving me a shot of Jack. I just barely choked it down and the aftertaste was brutally indescribable. Kudos to Rob for going the extra effort to squeeze the most out of his race.

I could be wrong here, but Rob scored himself a nine second PR by running a 2:22:53 on Monday. Rob may be too humble to divulge that on his own, but one of the reasons why I wanted Rob’s account here was because I know he ran very well. It might not have been good enough to make all that beet juice worth it, but a PR is a PR. Like Rob said, “every person involved in Monday’s events should share their story”, and in his own unique experience you can see the ugliness (racial profiling) and the beauty (strangers lending a helping hand) that was present in the aftermath. The tragedy seems to be dominating the headlines but we need to find the triumphant stories within and tell the stories of the successful races as well.

Thanks once again to Scott Mason for the photo. More Boston Marathon photos can be found on his website.

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Shocked, Angered, Sad

Guest blog by Tom Derderian, president USATF-NE

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 11.32.06 AMLike 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.

Firsthand Account from 25.5

Guest blog by Anne London

Monday was a very scary day in Boston. I took a half day and walked with Brian across the river to our friend’s house to join them at their annual party to cheer on the runners. They live at mile 25.5, about 0.5 mile (800m) from the finish line. They have a balcony where you can see the runners go by. I was documenting my day:


We were down on the street looking for a teammate of mine when we heard the blasts. We didn’t realize they had been explosions; you don’t think you’re going to hear anything like that…we assumed it was a big truck hitting a pot hole (we have terrible streets here) or fireworks, or a mock cannon for celebration. About 60 seconds later EVERY police officer went running towards the finish line – on foot, motorcycle, car, horse…something big had happened.

Right in front of us, they started stopping the runners;


I immediately went on twitter on my phone and saw that a friend (who lives AT the finish line) had written an update. We then knew it was bad. We started telling the other spectators around us, and everyone was using their phones to try to get in touch with people they knew were at the finish line.


The runners were starting to hear the news and getting really upset. I have been as tired as they are; at mile 25.5 (of 26) you have NOTHING left in the gas tank and are physically and emotionally DONE. People were crying and going into shock. We ran back upstairs and were bringing down buckets and cups of warm water, it was pretty cold (the temp had dropped to 45F/7C). We spent an hour walking through the runners, who were just corralled on the street, not knowing where to go, giving them water and texting their families. The phone lines were shut off (to prevent more bombs from detonating) so info could only get out via text.

An example of the messages being sent out amongst the chaos at the moment.

The runners started to clear out, I guess they were being brought to shelters to await further instructions, so we went upstairs to watch the news. More bombs were allegedly being found, so we were on lockdown. We had some of our friends who had been running in with us, we had brought them inside to get them warm and dry and fed, but it was stressful because initially there were other friends that we could not find.

Our block was cleared by police at about 7:45pm, so we started the walk home back to Cambridge (see photos below). It was eerily quiet on the streets, other than FBI and police. I was so thankful I was with my husband and had decided to go – he had always planned on going over but I wasn’t going to take the day…ultimately I decided that it was too exciting of a day to be cooped up in the lab, I know you all understand. But if he had gone and I was here not knowing where he was and not able to get in contact, that would have been very tough.

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Yesterday was a terrible day for Boston and the running community. What puts it in a very real perspective is that the bombs went off at 4 hours 10 minutes into running the marathon – my past times have been 3:56 and 4:22 in 2011 and 2009. This attack directly affected my teammates and their families, and I am so thankful that everyone that I care about is okay, just a little shaken.

I asked Anne if there was any special significance to the Tweet she chose to add to her account and this was her response:

I just went online and that was the first tweet I saw that gave us any sort of clarity (I don’t know T&R outside of a meeting long ago, but I listen to the show daily, I was trying to put it in perspective for my Swiss colleagues).

Twitter is the fastest way to get real time info, and in this case it proved to be true. Police started running and I went on twitter. They hadn’t even stopped the runners yet. It was chilling to realize that it was more than just a truck crash or fireworks.

Rich (of T&R) lives in the marathon sports building, I heard his account on the air today. People were blown into the lobby of his building. His account was terrifying.

This has affected so many of us and in different ways. Now’s the time to lean on our community and to help each other get through this. As you can see from the pic below, Anne came up with a way for her to show some solidarity and made a few people smile along the way.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Anne. We’ll get through this, and we’ll be stronger than ever. We owe it to those affected most by it.

On a side not I’d like to address one of the statements made in this post just for clarity. Anne refers to the phone lines being shut off, but according to CNN that wasn’t the reason for the break in communication. The system was just overwhelmed. I left her original text intact because it was a widespread belief at the time that cell phones could possibly trigger more explosions and that they were shut down. While we’re presenting first hand accounts, stories and other information about the tragedy it’s also a good time to clear up any misconceptions about what happened (as best we can).

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A Place for Your Thoughts; A Place to Process

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13We are putting together a tribute/forum/editorial (we are still processing; we don’t know what to call it) section for our next issue and on our website. We want you to contribute your thoughts, concerns, prayers, reflections. Please help the world see the power of running. You can contact me directly with your thoughts at kevbalance[at]levelrenner[dot]com. Please contribute. Show the strength of our running community.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 11.32.06 AMWe will collect submissions for the next few days and compile them into an organized forum. If necessary, we will edit them for clarity and brevity. May your voice be heard. Pray for Boston.

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