One of the elite runners that I look up to is Shalane Flanagan. She took an Olympic Bronze medal in the 10k in 2008 and was the highest finishing woman in the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London. She is inspiration to many around the country and the world. I had the opportunity to meet Shalane at the Marine Corps Marathon Expo.
I spent all of yesterday morning constantly checking updates on Runners World and the B.A.A. iPhone app following Shalane’s progress. I was on the edge of my work seat between classes as the lead pack crossed mile 22 and Shalane was pushing in to the finish line. I was estastic to see her finish fourth overall and the highest finishing American female with a time of 2:27:08, just 33 seconds behind the winner. Her drive and preserverance keep me motivated to push myself to be better everytime I lace up.
Following the finish of the elite athletes I quit following updates. The bulk of the field had started their race. Qualifiers and charity runners had started their journey from Hopkinton to Boston, as a non participant it was just another race happening elsewhere in the country. Then the unthinkable happened and my phone started buzzing. The first text message I recieved during my last class of the day read “Did you hear about the explosion at the marthon?” I wrapped up class and headed to my computer to check out the B.A.A. website and began to see the reports rolling in of the attack.
Immediately I hit twitter and Facebook to check on those members of Team #runDisney and Marathon Maniacs that were running. All accounted for. Details started to come in and flood my Twitter feed and many questions and concerns began to flood the hearts and minds of the country. Why would someone do this? What hate exists that would drive this action?
I have been at the finish line of 7 marathons in the last 15 months. Every one of them have been filled with people, spectators, family, and friends cheering and supporting me. I don’t know who they were, they were strangers to me. They were cheering of my accomplishments and I have always felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. 26.2 miles is an incredible feat no matter how you look at it. The thought that this could happen at any race at any point is a scary one. I have run some of the big races. I’ve towed the start line with tens of thousands of strangers all united in trust and running.
Thank you for all of the messages asking if I was in Boston yesterday. The compassion & concern of my friends and family is truly humbling.
The most asked question I received yesterday in the aftermath of the tragedy was “Are you still going to try to qualify?” You bet I am. Now more than ever I want to toe the line in Hopkinton. Now more than bet I want to cross the finish line on Bolston St. and celebrate the resiliency of the spirit of the marathon. Boston has been a goal, an ambition, a drive. It will continue to be those things and much more for the running community. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, the runners, the city, & Dave McGillivray. I am overly thankful for all the emergency personnel on course at each race. I always try to thank them as I run by, regardless of how I’m feeling.
Boston is on my mind.
I will keep running.