The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Greatest Run

The bed was warm and I lay wide awake.  Four of my running friends were on the opposite coast set to run the Boston Marathon.  Anxiety and excitement rolled around my nerves making sleep scarce.

I glance over and watch the clock flip to 4:00 a.m.  Should I just get up and go for a run?  Knowing I was headed to the track after work to run with others from our group, I decide the smart thing to do is rest my hamstring.  My next marathon is 3 weeks away, and although I am not racing it, there was no need to push my recovery back into injury.

Local cable did not carry coverage of the Boston Marathon; I had to be content with pulling it up online and watching it on the computer.  My social media newsfeed began filling with pictures of the Athlete's Village and bus rides to Hopkinton.

The race begins, my family and I watch all while preparing for a normal Monday.  My heart longs to be there.  There is no jealousy, simply twinges of longing knowing your friends are there experiencing one of the world's greatest marathons and you are home missing the party.  With a sigh, I shut the computer down and head to work.

Once at work, I go about my day while keeping one eye on the Athlete Tracker.  I have plugged my friends' names into the online tracker and I watch their 5k splits.  Karen, Pat and I trade emails throughout the morning rejoicing with each new split that appears.  3,000 miles away and we are watching Arlane, Melissa, Kathy and Amy nail their goal times.

The 3 of us become concerned when Kathy's splits stop at the 20k mark.  For well over an hour we are left wondering why she seems to have stopped racing.  Injury?  Faulty timing chip?   We knew it had to be something big to pull her off the course.  To travel that far, to run that race and not finish would be heartbreaking.

Little did we know how prophetic our fears would be.

At the 35k mark a split floods in and we are relieved to realize she is still running.  It must be a faulty chip.

Amy finishes, soon after Arlane crosses and a moments later Melissa does too.  We are ecstatic.  We watch and wait for Kathy unsure of anything as her chip is not working correctly.  Did she already cross the 40k mark?  How close is she to the finish?

Then it happened.  Panic set in at the realization our friends were right there.  After racing, Arlane and Melissa would have made their way back to the finisher's chute to watch Kathy come in.  Wasn't the explosion near their meeting point?  I felt ill.

Karen called me immediately.  We both cried openly as we tried to make sense of the senseless.  I called Stephanie, who was there on the sidelines solely to cheer on our friends. I couldn't get through.  Text messages went out to all of them, even though we knew they weren't running with their phones.

After 30 agonizing minutes Stephanie was able to call me.  Arlane and Kathy are unaccounted for; she was with Melissa and Amy.  The phone went dead.  Emails, phone calls and text messages fly rapidly between Karen, Pat and myself.  Social media was flooded with little information, just many questions.  I cry when reading "All from Bellingham are accounted for except Kathy and Arlane."

An hour later a number I do not recognize registers on my cell phone.  I answer before the first ring finishes.  Stephanie has made it back to the hotel and they are now with Arlane.  They have heard from Kathy.  Relief floods every fiber of my being and I collapse into my chair.

Arlane comes to the phone, she speaks, I cry at the sound of her voice.  We talk and I am hard pressed to register anything she says, I am just so happy to hear her voice.    We hang up and as I post an update to our group I receive a private message.  It is from Kathy.  Strangers have taken her in to their home.  She was safe.

I cry again.


Spring skies open to a downpour.  Rain bounces off the ground.  I am heading to the track to meet my friends.  After the bombings in Boston and all the emotion of the day we knew, now more than ever, we still needed to come together.  We needed to run.

The rain has all but stopped as I pull into the school's parking lot.  Karen is waiting in her car.  We jump out of our cars and hug each other.  We cry again.  Today wasn't suppose to be like this, today was suppose to be a celebration of our friends running the greatest run of their lives.   Pat pulls in and we share in more hugs.  The sun begins to break from the clouds bringing a glisten to our tears.

We walk toward the track.  Stepping onto the black rubber of the quarter mile oval we feel at home.  But home is empty.  Part of our family is not there.  We begin to run with our 
hearts 3,000 miles away.   Our emotion spills into the run; anger quickens our pace, heartbreak propels us forward.

As numb as we feel, we are filled with gratitude.  We will see our friends again.  We will lace up our shoes and run together again.

And I suppose that alone makes for the greatest run of our lives.