Written by Heather Foley
Today I didn’t deviate from my normal routine at all. I hit snooze too many times, gulped down a cup of coffee, headed to the gym and then work. For all intents and purposes, nothing looked very different, but by God did it feel different. I went through my “normal” day with a sick feeling in a pit of my stomach and on the verge of tears. Like most of you, I’ve been feeling this way since reports of the blasts started trickling in. When I first started trying to take a mental headcount of everyone I knew who could have possibly been by the Boston Marathon finish line when the bombs went off, my head swam. My first thought was, “Oh God, who’s running?” Then bit by bit my brain processed that I didn’t need to just worry about the people who were physically running the marathon, but I also had to worry about all the first responders. I knew who would be working, the people who were heading to Boylston Street to take part in the festivities, friends who were making the mad dash from Fenway Park to the finish line. In the end, it was too many people to keep track of. Basically most of the city has the day off of work, and most people who are off head to the marathon, so who knows who’s even there.
I checked my phone every ten seconds, emails, texts, Facebook, twitter, basically anything that would hint that people I knew were safe. Updates came in painfully slow, or maybe they weren’t even that slow, but they felt slow. There ended up being more people than I even realized that were in the area. I felt little pangs of guilt when someone posted on Facebook that they were okay and I hadn’t said a little prayer for them because I didn’t even know they could have been in harm’s way. I sat in an office at work and watched the same clips on TV over and over. None of it felt real. I knew it was happening within walking distance of where I was sitting, but it felt like I was on another planet.
I’m sickened, I’m heartbroken, but over the past couple days I have never once thought, “Well, there goes the marathon” or “No one is going to run next year”. Actually it’s the total opposite, I thought, “I have to run next year”. The Boston Marathon (or any race for that matter) has never been on my bucket list, not even a little bit. I’ve never understood the hype or could figure out why anyone in his or her right mind would willingly run. Seriously, it’s hell on your body. Also I can only run about a minute at a time, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that this isn’t something that has given me the push to do something I always wanted, as a matter of fact I still don’t “want” to run, but I feel I have to. Running the 2014 Boston Marathon is basically saying “F you” to anyone who thinks they can scare me, and I think that’s pretty indicative of Boston as a whole.
We’re a prickly lot, an odd combination of hearty Puritan steadfastness and progressive thinking. Grazing cattle determined our streets, but we have the most amazing hospitals and universities in the world. We drink iced coffees while we shovel out our cars, wear flip-flops in February and don’t turn our air conditioners on in July. We’re tough and smart, loud and funny, and maybe sometimes we don’t have a ton of common sense, but these qualities are what set us apart and bind us together. I’ve never been on a trip where I couldn’t spot Boston people a mile away. Maybe it’s because of our shared nature, but I know I’m not the only Bostonian who almost immediately felt the need to run in 2014. We won’t let an act of cowardice dictate how we live our lives. We won’t be scared into staying away from one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. No one tells us what to do.
Will I actually get to the 2014 Boston Marathon? I’ve got a bad knee and two weak ankles, my doctor could very well tell me the training would be too much for my old bones. Will anyone who’s had a passing thought of running over the past couple days follow through? Who knows, and more importantly, does it matter? A terrorist’s goal is to inspire fear, I’m not afraid, and neither is our city.