Written by Cherie Epstein, owner of Running Wild. Paul works for Cherie. This is her recap of running the Boston Marathon 2013.
Two weeks have come and gone since that fateful moment that robbed the running community and it’s family of a joyful moment. Instead of a joyous celebration that the runners have been waiting for…we have mourned the senseless loss of life and our hearts have ached in the aftermath of what the victims are going through.
But we are not broken. Like after 911…our community comes together tighter than ever. We are more unified than we were before. Just within our Pensacola running community we had a record number of first time participants training for the My First 5K. FIFTY FIVE new runners have committed to finish their first 5k…to become runners that makeup the running family….the same family that was effected by two Boston bombs…just 3 days after they occurred. Just one week later our store raised $5000 for One Fund Boston and running communities near and far have come to do the same. This fund has since raised MILLIONS of dollars for the innocent victims of that fateful moment.
We celebrate the heroes that were made that day. Paul and I met Everett Spain last week…whom President Obama mentioned when speaking of the heroes. He was one of two guides for a blind runner on the last leg of the marathon. They were directly between the two bombs when the explosions occurred. Everett had the other guide take the runner to safety while he…a colonel in the Army in doctorial classes at Harvard…jumped into action. The windows of Marathon Sport had blown out and he tore clothes out of there to make tourniquets for the victims. He told me how thankful he was that God put him in that spot at that moment and I could not agree more.
Can I share with you my run? Will there ever be a time that it is appropriate to speak of it. Will it motivate others or will it show my selfishness…that I can keep moving. That I am still safe. That I was still one of the lucky ones.
The morning of the race I was more concerned with painting my fingernails in the waiting grounds at Hopkinton than actually racing. I had trained a decent amount but knew that this was not to be the elusive goal time that is on my bucket list. That was going to be in October…the Chicago marathon. This run was going to be a joyful run. Pink nail polish.
Everyone in my group…Paul—Heather—Jeremy—Rusty and Evan were running in the first corral. Only Brian and I were in the second corral.
The potty lines were 30 minutes long so I said goodbye to Brian and took a chance by the busses. Met two other girls there waiting in line and swear they could be Phat Girlz. They were so joyful and excited and nice. This was their first Boston…my third. They waited in line with me and walked me to my bus so I could drop off my gear. We took pictures together. We looked like we had traveled together.
I caught Brian 30 seconds before the gun went off in our corral….I pressed the start on my watch as we crossed the start line and @#$%!!!! I had changed the time on my watch and accidentally changed my pace setting to speed. I was more interested in deciding if I would paint my nails pink or purple and now I was stuck with this configure and totally at a loss. What in the world is 7.8????? I lose Brian right at this moment. Start asking people…”how fast are you running? “….every couple of minutes. First mile was 7:58….and then I was all over the place trying to find out what 7:30 was. I finally found it and just tried to stick to that feeling…how did my stride feel right here…keep it there. This is really a challenge in a crowd because you feel SOOOOO good in the beginning. But I actually felt soooo good for 20 miles right here. I had a plan of 7:30 for 10…7;20 for the next 10 and 7:15 for the last six. But plans don’t work for me at Boston. SO I picked it up a little at 10 but not at 7:20 because I did not even know what 7:20 was on my watch. ( I am embarrassed at this point to say that I own a running store….these are things I am supposed to know…right?)
I ran the first ten miles for all my phat girl friends. Many of them were starting their daily run at the same time that I was and they were tracking me so that helped to keep in mind. Because they were tracking me…I also knew I couldn’t be super girl in the first half and ape girl in the second half like NYC so I just focused on one mile at a time. And the time flew by. It really was a very joyful run. Jack Frost delivered even though I still needed to throw water on my head every other mile to cool down.
When I get to Welsley (sp?) around mile 15…it’s the normal crazy loud screaming! So much energy. I see a girl with a sign that says…KISS ME IF YOU WANT A PR. I run from the middle of the street cutting people off so that I could kiss her…I do not think she meant me.
Then there were the military runners in combat boots and rucksacks. People who made sacrifices so that I could run in this truly awesome event…short shorts…lipstick…pink nail polish…running next to half naked men…They are not going to let the marathon bombs defeat their spirits and neither will I.
Heart break Hill was a pretty slow mile…but not my slowest. Once I saw the Citgo sign I knew we were almost done. But my quads were already done. It’s not that Heart break hill is such a terrible hill; it is because there are so many little hills along the way… a pretty big hill…and then a really big hill and your quads hurt like….well hurt a lot. Running downhill is worse for me I think…my quads feel like each and every muscle is striking. Pins and needles. It hurts to run fast. It hurts to run slow. I needed to feel God’s presence and I did for a mile. I looked at my watch and was running a little too fast too soon. I thanked Him and just knew this was going to be a great run. I ran for my girls. One mile at a time. And then in the end I ran near a woman who had her name on her arm so the crowd kept calling her name….SADIE!!!!
Mile 24 I am sure I was running so slow…I look at my watch and I am running 11.2….whatever that is!!!! Mile ends and says I just ran 6:45….NO WAY!!! My legs are hurting so bad now. I just want to walk but know I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That last mile still ended up being really slow…so slow that I thought the watch was broken and stopped looking.
When I finished it was not a PR but it was my fastest Boston time. #3timesacharm 3:20 and change and 47th in my age so “yeay” for me. But as you know…that does not matter anymore.
I cross the finish line and they give me the silver blanket for the death march to the busses. Along the way I see a nice spot to sit down. And somehow I end up in the wheel chair again (this somehow happened at NYC so Paul thinks this is my standard procedure now) going to the medical tent. I assure them that I am not disoriented even though I know there is warmth in that tent…and hot chicken broth…and I can even lay down. I see Heather Asmar and she lets Paul know where I am so I think its ok. (If you hear Paul’s version on this part you will get another story. It’s not my fault that he does not know how to get into the medical tent. ) It’s very busy in there and I only stay a short time because I know that there are more people in need than me….I did not know just how many more were about to be in need in just a very short time.
Paul ran a 2:58 (i know what you are thinking…Bad Ass Hot Stuff) and started 20 minutes ahead of me so he is waiting for me for a very long time. And when you stop…Jack Frost is no longer your friend. It is soooooo cold. (I feel terrible for the runners that were stopped at mile 25 with no idea what was going on….the race is over…find your families and your own way back to your hotel…and the temperature drops)
Paul and I finally hook up and I am changing into dry clothes when the bombs go off. What is that? No one has any idea. One volunteer says thunder. I look up at the sky….definitely not thunder. We start the walk four blocks away to the hotel and Paul and everyone else are on the phone…and block by block the scene begins to change as people are getting information.
We get to the hotel and there is a real concern. Shock. The streets are filled with ambulances…firetrucks…police…bomb squad…FBI. It was surreal. We stayed in the hotel all night. No celebration. Praying. Is there another one going off? Help us God. There are tears as we find out more information. I miss my kids but am so thankful they are not there.
The experience brought everyone that is a runner even closer. We all felt the pain and hurt whether we were one of the heroes like Everett Spain or one of the new 5K runners that had signed up to change their life that week. Our hearts go out to the father who lost his son…his daughter lost a leg and wife underwent brain surgery. There is not much room for celebration after stories like this. But spirits are not broken. A ballerina who lost her foot in the explosion has vowed to run the marathon next year. As well as so many others. The Epsteins are running Boston next year. (OK…I gave my slot to Chicago away…I do feel I need to stay closer to home right now…but I will be back to Boston!!!)
#Bostonstrong #runnersstong #familiesstrong #Godstrong
*Marathon Training 2013 kicks off in both RW locations on July 15. Cherie and Paul Epstein walk the walk and their stories inspire our running community. Looking forward to running with these two this summer.