As many of you know from the steady stream of social media posts and photos, I finished the Austin 10/20 –my first race EVER– on Sunday. The Austin 10/20 race is only in its second year and consists of 10 miles and 20 bands. Every half-mile is a different band. The official time limit on the race was three hours, so that was my goal. I had only done 10 miles one other time during training and it had taken me almost four hours to complete. Granted there was some unexpected off-roading and I forgot my nutrition at home, so there were some major hiccups on that training walk. However, I was anticipating being a little over the goal of 3 hours. I was so stoked when I crossed the finish line at 2:49:39. What was really cool was having the support of my Team-In-Training coaches and teammates to cheer me on. So many of them stayed at the finish line to support their teammates, it was a really special feeling and it motivated me to muster enough energy together to run the last 50 feet or so and really show off for the camera.
My good friend Megan and my husband Rene also did the race with me. Rene, being an Army guy, ran and finished well ahead of me and was at the finish line waiting for me. Megan unfortunately inflamed an old injury to her foot a few weeks before the Austin 10/20, but managed to finish the full 10 miles. Megan is quite a bit faster than me normally, but she ended up being the last Team-In-Training participant to finish due to her injury. However, when you are the last TNT person to cross the finish line…. something really cool happens. All the coaches from all the chapters that have people at the event come and walk with you to the finish line! Most of the teammates also stick around to cheer you on at the end. It was an incredibly moving experience. Seeing Megan cross the finish line was so inspiring to all of us and I’m so proud to have her as a friend.
I wish I could just end the entry here, but unfortunately I can’t. Many people have written about the events in Boston with much more eloquence than I can. But it was impossible for me to blog about my own race triumph without discussing what happened in Boston. These are the types of photos we should be seeing from people who participated in the Boston Marathon. Photos documenting joy, triumph and pride. Instead, what we saw was tragedy, carnage and loss.
I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment when I got a CNN breaking news alert that the winners had crossed the finish line. I figured that would be the extent of the news I would hear from Boston the rest of the day. A few hours later I checked my phone and saw there had been a bomb blast at the finish line. I went home and watched the news for several hours, talked to family and friends, checked on people I knew who might be there via social media to make sure they and their loved ones were safe. My first thoughts when I heard the news was shock. How the hell does something like this happen in today’s day and age?
I also kind of felt guilty for being able to finish my race on Sunday and celebrate that achievement when so many people were not able to do that the next day. Many will never have the opportunity to do an endurance event again or ever. I feel horrible that an activity that people love has been forever tainted. That a race that many considered the pinnacle of their running achievements has been marred forever. That people lost their lives and their limbs just for being at a marathon– either as a spectator or participant. No one should ever have to worry about being attacked EVER, let alone while they are doing something positive for their health and the world. Can we no longer experience achievement publicly without having some lunatic try to kill us? Will anyone be able to cross a finish line without thinking about Boston? Was the person responsible looking for irony? Was he thinking “Let me take down these athletes at their peak physical fitness level so I can feel powerful?” Was he just going for big headlines? Will we ever know?
People who run marathons are exceptional people from all walks of life! I don’t have the stats on this but many people who decide to run marathons in their spare time do it because they’re like me (but way faster). They have experienced some kind of traumatic event in their lives and they either want to channel their feelings toward something positive, or they want to take charge of their health in a very active, goal-oriented way. Most likely its some combination of both. The people at this race are people like this Massachusetts couple. Both have either fought or are currently fighting blood cancer and have raised more than $70,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over the years. According to Team-In-Training’s update yesterday, thankfully all 145 Team-In-Training participants who were at the Boston Marathon Monday are accounted for and okay. But what about the 8-year-old boy or the 29-year-old woman or the young graduate student from China who were all killed? They were all there to support people they cared about and died as a result. It’s all just awful and unfair.
As many people have stated though, it has been beautiful to see people band together in the face of adversity. We have heard many stories about marathoners immediately running to the hospitals to donate blood for the wounded even though they were exhausted from their race and also traumatized from the days events. Or about the surgeon who had to perform life savings surgeries despite just finishing a marathon. Or of the first-responders and soldiers who were there to help manage the chaos and start saving lives immediately. It’s truly a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity.
These events will leave my heart heavy for a long time. My prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy and with everyone as we struggle to understand these events. I know many people around the country are organizing memorial runs/walks and Austin is no different. One will be held at Town Lake in Austin tomorrow night, so I’m hoping I will be able to make it.
Stay safe, everyone!