In my previous post I wrote about my PR and accomplishing my dream of running the Boston Marathon. Now, I want to tell the story of what occurred after the finish line. It’s important to me to write down what happened while it’s fresh and before my memories begin to fade.
As I crossed the finish line it was a feeling like no other, the thrill of a dream fulfilled and many years of hard work coming to fruition had become a reality. I collected my medal and a volunteer wrapped a mylar blanket around me, my friend Travis, snapped a picture and we headed toward the busses to get our bags. Travis’ bag was in the 3000 bus and mine was in 19000, so we were separated momentarily while we found the vehicles that our bags were on. As I walked to my bus, that’s when it happened, the moment that changed everything from elation to confusion, fear and chaos. I paused for a moment, it was as if my brain could not register what was happening. I just stood there and said to myself “did that just happen?” I knew it was big and I knew it was something horribly wrong, but I had no idea what.
In that instant my friend Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean texted me to say congratulations and I texted back “Something very bad just happened, please check the news, I don’t know what’s going on, can you update me, it’s chaos here?” Rereading these texts, brings me to tears, it was such an awful moment. I am so grateful to have Lindsay keeping me posted on what was happening and to have her reassuring words.
My first thoughts were, of course, my husband, because he had been watching me at the finish line and my friend Lisa, who I had started the race with. After this I found my way back to Travis, he knew by the look on my face that something was wrong. “What’s going on?” Travis said. “Did you see or hear that explosion?” I asked. We walked toward the family meeting area in silence. I have no idea how it happened, but I walked right up to my husband.. there he was in a sea of people. I honestly have no idea how we found him. “Congratulations, Babe! I’m so proud of you!” he said. I approached him and said “there was an explosion.” “No, you’re fine, that was a scheduled military salute, I just asked a police officer” he said. For moment I wanted to believe him, but deep down I knew that there was no possible way, I know what I saw and it was not good. “Check Twitter” I said, he put in hashtag #Boston and then I will never forget his look and the color that left his face. “We need to keep moving forward” he said.
My husband is a trained Navy Diver and war veteran, I knew what he was thinking: “I’m used to, trained for and signed up to deal with these things.. I am the one who is supposed to see and experience these things, not her or any innocent people”. He was angry. We walked back to our hotel and had a surprisingly relaxed dinner. As they brought us the check, we were informed by the hotel that no one would be allowed into the property except registered guests.
When we went back to the room and turned on the TV, the reality and magintude of the circumstances sank in. I contacted all of my loved ones to let them know I was OK, packed my bags for a 6am flight, and sobbed myself to sleep. It’s impossible to fathom the psychotic nature of someone who would commit a senseless act like this. For God’s sake, an 8 year old boy? My son is almost eight years old! It hit home in a hard way.
The next morning we arrived at the airport and security was tight. As I went through the x-ray machines, I told the TSA agent I would be back next year, that these guys can’t scare us runners away, and she replied ” Good because the people of Boston will be here waiting of for you and we will be bigger and better than ever.” That’s how Bostonians are, they’re tough and resilient. These sitiuations make them stronger and more fierce.
The mood on the flight home was solemn and quiet. I felt happy to be home but also life felt different. I had just experienced the greatest moment in my life and then witnessed one of America’s greatest tragedies. My mind was numb.
As we disembarked the plane, I heard another passenger say the media was waiting for us at baggage claim. It just had not sunk into my mind what had happened, so I was almost confused when I heard this.. “Media? Why?” Again, my brain was on overload. As I approached baggage claim @GoodNewsWendy from KTLA asked if it was OK to ask a few questions about the marathon.
We drove straight back to our hometown – we did not even drop off our luggage – and went to get our children out of school early. I needed to hold them, to tell them how much I love and appreciate them. I was feeling so grateful to be here with them. I was overjoyed to see their smiling faces! The rest of the day I spent playing games with them, praising God to be home.
In the meantime, the local paper The Ventura County Star had contacted me for a print interview and a Los Angeles TV station KTLA asked if I would do a live interview the next morning. I agreed, only if the message would be positive and hopeful. They both assured me that they would be, and the next day I told my story on live TV and to the VC star reporter.
Here is a link to the KTLA TV interview right HERE
And a link to the Ventura County Star interview HERE
I was feeling pretty good a few days after returning home and then it hit me. I would burst into tears randomly throughout the day, I would wake up in the middle of the night and get stuck on certain thoughts like “where is my friend Lisa?” “Where is my husband Rob?” “What if Travis had been hurt?”
I was confused as to why I was so emotional and having trouble, after all, I was home and one of the safe ones. I had finished my marathon. Why was I having such a difficult time? My husband, a war veteran, explained what was happening. I was experiencing something similar to “near miss PTSD.” As soon as he said this out loud, I felt better because, I wasn’t questioning myself or trying to stop my feelings from coming. I allowed myself to be sad and cry when I needed to. If I woke up, my husband comforted me and said, “everything is OK, what you’re experiencing is normal.” It helped me to heal, and move on. I still find myself in tears occasionally when I talk about the day in detail to someone, but I’m am doing so much better. I went on a few trail runs to clear my head, and as always, I sorted things out through nature. It never, ever fails to reveal the answers to me.
Yes, indeed even in the darkest days, the light is always there. Sometimes it feels as though the sun will never shine again, but it will in time. The light is always there, the darkness comes and goes just like a storm. Just because these are turbulent times, it does not mean the light of the universe/ God is not there… God is constant, strong, and never waivers, even if we think otherwise.