Sunday, June 30th, marked the last day of the One Run for Boston relay. The relay had started 3 weeks ago in LA and had made its way through 14 states and was making it’s final way to Boston.
I had the amazing chance to have been part of this experience. Having been just a few blocks away at the time of the bombings (after spending a good couple hours outside of Marathon Sports), this relay started out as something cool to do to raise money for The One Fund.
It turned out to be so much more.
On 4/15, I headed out by myself in order to watch a friend cross the Boston Marathon finish line. When the bombs went off, I was just by myself. For some reason, I was very very aware that I was by myself, and I was terrified. Phones were out, people were crying, no one really knew what was going on. But suddenly, all of us just had started moving as one large group from Boylston to the Boston Commons. I won’t go into the whole story again, because you can read it right here.
My family, my boyfriend and my friends have been so incredibly supportive. But, they just weren’t physically there. Everyone has seen the videos and the pictures of what happened, but no one else knew what it was like down there. I’ve ran two runs (Marine Corp Honor Run, and the BAA 10K), but there was still something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I was headed to Newton City Hall on Sunday.
I needed to heal on my own.
Since the relay was running 5 hours behind schedule, what was originally planned as an 8 mile run at 7PM, turned out to be a 7.8 mile run that started at 11:45PM. Because it was so late, my boyfriend dropped me off at Newton City Hall around 9:45 PM and I mingled with 650 runners who came out to be a part of this epic event.
The energy was contagious. I mean, it’s not every day that 650 runners head out for a midnight run. People who ran the Boston Marathon wore their bib numbers for the day. People hugged. People took pictures. Big Bird even made an appearance. When one of the three race organizers gave us an update on when we would be leaving – he was greeted with a massive applause.
The baton arrived around 11:30 PM, we cheered them into Newton, and the baton was passed around for a couple people to take pictures. That baton had traveled from LA to Boston, non stop, over 3 weeks. More than 1,500 runners ran along with the baton, making sure that it was able to arrive in Boston.
In a sea of runners wearing reflective gear and head lamps (yes, I wore a headlamp. For the first time ever. There is even a picture for proof), emotions were running high. We were running the last 8 miles of the Boston Marathon. We were going to run up Heartbreak Hill, through Kenmore Square, past the spot where 5700 runners were stopped just ½ mile from the finish line, past Forum, past Marathon Sports and we were going to cross the finish line.
The night was humid. Running up Heartbreak Hill, even when it was at mile 2, made me feel like I was on fire. Then just as quickly, it started to mist. There was a giant cheer that erupted from Commonwealth Ave near Boston College as it started to rain. We were moving as a pretty cohesive group, and people who had read about the run in the news started coming out of their apartments in the PJs to cheer us on. Cars honked and screamed “go runners” and other words of encouragement. Police officers blocked some intersections to help the group not get split up. Kids lined up for high fives. Before I knew it, I was in Coolidge Corner.
Running down Beacon Street, was when it really started to sink in. I ran by places that I had watched & cheered on the Boston Marathon runners while in college. I ran by places I had lived. When I came up the Beacon Street bridge and saw the Citgo sign, I forgot about the pain in my knee (yes, my knee/IT band was not as excited as I was about the run), and I’m pretty sure I had the goofiest smile on my face. We ran past Hotel Commonwealth, where people waiting for a cab cheered at us and cab drivers honked their horns.
I ran past the Mass Ave underpass, where 5,700 people were stopped in their tracks. There was a couple running next to me, and the man told his wife that this is exactly where he was when he was stopped. He took out his phone and started recording the last ½ mile. It was then, that it really started to hit me. This is what I had been waiting for.
We turned “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston”, and we could see the finish line in the distance. You could hear the roar of a crowd of about 1,000 people right from there. Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Running towards the finish line, I realized that this was what I needed. I needed to come back to Boylston, and I needed to do it on my own. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, boyfriend and friends – but I needed to face what happened and heal at my own pace and on my own accord. I needed to reclaim the finish line for myself.
When I crossed the finish line, a lady seemed to just pop out and give me a hug. We hugged and I cried. I knelt down and had her take a picture of me at the finish line. Shortly after, John Odom, who lost his leg on 4/15 while waiting for his daughter to cross the finish line, got to reclaim the finish line for himself. His daughter Nicole pushed him, and the baton, across the finish line, for an emotional end to a 3 week relay.
(photo courtesy of Boston Globe)
This is what it was all about. At 1:00AM everyone had crossed the line. In the middle of the night, we reclaimed the finish line. 1,500 runners showed up across the country, to pass on not only a baton to Boston, but a sense of healing and hope. When the baton crossed the finish line (it was later presented to the BAA), everyone knew we had accomplished something amazing.
It was the healing moment that I needed. I needed to spend 1 hour and 18 minutes running 7.9 miles, to really come to terms with what happened. There was no hiding it, there was no way to fake emotion during that run. Raw emotion and human kindness won. I got to come to terms with the Boston Marathon finish line face to face. And I’m so happy that I did.
Not only that, but I did something that I had never done before – run 7.9 miles.
I will remember this moment forever – we accomplished something that a) had never been done before and b) helped raise over $70,000 for The One Fund. We came together as runners from across the country to reclaim the finish line.
Runners are never alone.
I am extremely humbled to have been a part of One Run for Boston, and it is truly something that I will never forget. Thank you One Run for Boston for showing the world what people are able to accomplish.