"These were moments when their lives, or the lives of all people through the world, changed. December 7, 1941: when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. November 22, 1963; when Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. January 28, 1986: when the space shuttle Challenger carrying Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe exploded. September 11, 2001: when planes crashed into the World Trade Center taking both towers down and killing 3,000 people". -from 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners.Where were you on 4/15/2013 when the bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?
I was at work. I remember it clearly. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I had just finished seeing a patient and came out of a room, when my medical assistant told me that there was a story that a bomb went off at a marathon. It was a Monday in April, and I didn't know of any other marathons that day except Boston. I checked the internet and saw the breaking news. I was stunned and I finished my clinic in a daze.
As time passed and we learned more, the gravity of the situation continued to hit me. I couldn't help but personalize it. When I ran Chicago for the first time, in 2011, my family, including my husband and boys, my mom and one of my sisters and her family were all at mile 26, cheering me on. What if?
What if, indeed? For the next couple of days, my Facebook feed exploded with stories and updates. Several bloggers that I follow shared their take on the events. Some of them were at the race. I became almost obsessed with the story. And I've never run Boston.
In his book, 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners, veteran marathoner, coach, and author Hal Higdon culls the stories of bloggers and Facebookers, and presents those stories to tell the story of the Boston Marathon bombings. He learned about the bombings while he was at his home in Indiana, and like so many of us, watched the story explode via social media.
And as one of the runners profiled in the book, Diane DeStefano, so poignantly puts it:
"the Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of Running. Some people spend years trying to achieve their Boston Qualifying time. Then, once you qualify, you spend months training in cold weather, paying careful attention to do the specific workouts that will help you attack the tough miles the come towards the end of the marathon".
|Amby Burfoot, crossing the iconic finish line in first place many years ago|
"Who's ruining my party?"Then, like so many of the other runners who were stopped from finishing the race, he learned why the race was over, he started feeling guilty for having those thoughts.
Higdon calls the period of time immediately after the bombings the runners' "diaspora". Diaspora was a new word for me, and basically it means, "to scatter about". The word is used to describe a large migration of people from one place to another. When the runners were told the race was over, that is exactly what happened. They began wandering, with no place to go. No one knew what was going on, said Erica Greene, who was at mile 19 when the race was stopped.
|2014! Boston is back!|
"Everyone would tell me later that I finished, because I was so close, but a marathon is 26.2 miles, not 25.85 miles."and
"Everything you do is for that moment, the moment of stepping on the mat. But the lack of accomplishment and the emptiness I feel is compounded by guilt."There's something about crossing that finish line. I'd feel mad, and guilty, and sad all at once. I would. Because that's how we runners roll.
Overall, Higdon does an excellent job sharing the runners' stories and coordinating them along a timeline of events. As a runner, I really enjoyed hearing the runners' perspective of the events as opposed to what I read in the news. This is a quick read, and one that will stay with you long after you finish the book. The runners' stories really made this book relatable to me. Every time I cross the starting line of a race now I am so grateful for our freedom and that we can continue to enjoy events like a race. Last year, as I joyfully ran the Chicago marathon, I scanned the crowds that lined the entire 26.2 miles of the route. There was so much goodwill and happiness everywhere I looked. For the life of me, I just don't understand the thoughts of those that want to harm us, simply because we want to enjoy ourselves.
As Amby Burfoot said:
"This was not just an attack against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We use our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, and yes, marathons. We cannot cover our eyes and ears and pretend violent acts do not threaten our great institutions. Our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. We can only hope that the Boston Marathon, though pummeled, will rise again stronger than before. "
I believe that it has!
I also did some background reading after I finished Higdon's book, reading Long Mile Home by Scott Helman and Jenna Russell. This book was less personal and more fact based than Higdon's and focused more on the actual events than the stories of the individual runners. But one of the statements that stood out to me as I read this interesting book was that in spite of the terror attacks on the race, interest and participation in running continues to grow; in fact road races are selling out at paces. Many of the bigger races have turned to a lottery system for entries. Clearly, people aren't going to let the threat of terrorism stop them from running.
|One Fund at boston.com|
After the bombings, the Boston Strong campaign was started as a way to raise money for the victims of the bombings. This effort raised millions of dollars, much of it through grassroots endeavors, such as selling t-shirts. I bought a few. It seems that even for non-runners, the attack on Americans, on Patriots Day, who were participating in a sporting event, struck a chord with everyone.
|Jury selection. Artwork courtesy of Hal Higdon|
"Regardless of Judge O'Toole's instructions to prospective jurors about "presumed innocence," no one owning a "Boston Strong" T-shirt has any doubt about Tsarnaev's guilt. His capture was covered live: "Breaking News" on cable TV. Yet if the defense attorneys find even one jurist out of 12 willing to vote against the death penalty, they can match (Clarence )Darrow."As I publish this blog post, the Boston jury found Dzhokhar Tsaranaev guilty on all 30 counts against him. The sentence has yet to be handed down. Here's what Hal had to say on his Facebook page after the verdict was announced:
"THE JURY HAS SPOKEN: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty of all 30 charges, 17 of which allow the death penalty. The trial now moves into its final sentencing phase during which the jurors, seven women and five men, must decide whether the convicted terrorist gets death or life in prison. That’s the tough call. We all knew going in that Tsarnaev was guilty. The defense attorneys admitted that on Day 1. Now those same attorneys will try to convince at least one of those 12 jurors to show mercy. Why? “His brother made him do it.” Sorry, I’m not buying. But could I vote death, meaning there will be endless appeals for the next dozen years all covered on CNN and the front page of the New York Times? Sure, many would like to see him hauled out into the Mojave desert and beheaded. That’s what ISIS calls justice. Eye for an eye. Do unto them what they unto us. But could you wield that sword and risk making Tsarnaev a martyr, sending him off to the terrorist version of Paradise? In this context, being forced to spend the rest of his life in prison seems the worst we could do for the man who brought so much sorrow into our lives." -Hal HigdonStay tuned. And keep running.
|Dzhokhar Tsarnev at the trial. Artwork courtesy of Hal Higdon|
What did you think? What story stood out to you the most? Where were you when you first heard about the bombings? How did you initially feel? Did the bombings change the way you feel about running road races? Is your preparation for a race any different than before? If you had the opportunity to run this iconic race, would you? Are you? Have you? Share your story!
Be sure to link your review below! You know the rules...just link back to the original post. The badge is below. Be nice and read the other posts! Sharing is caring after all...and if you don't have a blog, just post your review in the comments. I'm really excited to hear what everyone has to say.
I chose next month's book in honor of Mother's Day. And who better to honor a running mom than the original badass mother runners, Dimity and Sarah! Their new book, Tales From Another Mother Runner is our book of the month for May. I'm hoping with fingers crossed that they'll answer questions, but if they can't, I understand. They're on a book tour after all...
Looking forward to another fun month of book clubbing! Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and participation.