I remember waking up a year ago somewhat late in the morning (I’m talking around 9ish), and checking my phone. It was the usual — Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Then I remembered, I had to send my stepmom a text.
“Good luck today!” is all I believe it said.
She was running in the Boston Marathon. My dad was there for moral support. Things had been going well, I recall from the racetracker. She was racing strong, and as it turned out, she earned a really good time.
Then about 15 minutes later, things quickly changed.
As I was playing MLB The Show, I remember receiving a text from my dad.
“There’s something big going on right here,” he said.
My dad had always been a jokester. He was more sarcastic than serious, most of the time. I believe I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, a marathon.”
A couple minutes later: “No, a couple explosions. I think they may have come from the subway. Trying to find Brenda now.”
I immediately turned on CNN (ESPN had not started covering the explosions yet) and began texting my dad with any updates I could get. More of a coincidence, he found my stepmom. Everything around Boston had already been shut down and it was time for them to get back to the hotel — better run the five miles there.
In the mean time, everybody was trying to call them, including myself to make sure they were OK. The media reports and Twitter made things worse because of the uncertainty surrounding the events.
Then my boss called. “Greg, you need to come into the office, there were some bombs at the Boston Marathon.”
You don’t think I know that? I’m freaking out over here. I thought about telling him “Forget it.”
“OK,” I think were my only words.
I headed into work and began researching any local runners who were competing and came up with a list of about 15. I couldn’t focus at all, to be honest.
Finally after about an hour after my dad’s second text I got a phone call. They were OK and back at the hotel. The phone signals had reportedly been poor, and they were using the navigation on their phones (data worked for some reason?) and wanted to get to safety first.
* * *
The next couple weeks were more retributive. The heinous people had been killed and captured. There was a sense of accomplishment from that.
Time continued to pass. The way my dad coped with it was under the theory that “tragedy breeds comedy.” He and I routinely made awful jokes about it. I knew it make him feel better.
My stepmom took it much harder. I think it was because she always felt safe running. To be fair, runners are the absolute nicest people in the world. How could somebody do that to the running community? There was a quiet intensity that was burning inside of her, I could see it.
She was going to run that race April 21, 2014, and nobody could stop her. Not even a set of broken ankles would have slowed her down.
The months went by and it only got stronger. Though she was a transplant from Wisconsin living in Illinois, she was the embodiment of “Boston Strong.”
Finally, today, it was race day. I wished her good luck again, today. She flew by the first half of the race but started having some stomach issues in the latter half. Regardless, she still put up a great time.
She needed a day like that.
Boston needed a day like that.
You and I needed a day like that.
I can only speak for my close family, but you see, it seems that each of us had an incredible amount of adversity to deal with this past year. I think we can draw inspiration from April 21, 2014.
There’s something to be said about the perseverance of people like my stepmom who were not going to let last year’s events dictate today. In fact, it only made her stronger. Same with the other thousands of runners who participated.
It’s almost as if to say, “You destroyed us last year. You destroyed me. But I’m going to do all I know how to do — put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You can’t beat me.”
“I’m better than you.”
And Boston proved that it was better than the terrorist acts of two individuals and they did it simply by running — one of the most pacifist acts you can do. How incredible is that? That’s something we can embrace and admire.
Like the rhythmic steps, continuous in their motion, we need to remember that: “You can’t beat me. I’m better than you.”