Like the rest of the country, I've been riveted by the bombings in Boston. When the news first broke, I thought they (the bad guys) were targeting runners. Explosions at the finish line? What? As my high school friend Jill eloquently pointed out on Facebook, the finish line is "for bananas and water." The finish line is a good thing - it's the goal, the accomplishment, the gold star. And at a race as prestigious and challenging as the Boston marathon, any kind of interruption would mess with the concentration of all of the participants.
Clearly, I had no idea the extent of what had really happened.
When I saw the footage for the first time (quite possibly the only time in my life I've willingly turned the channel to ESPN), the realization that someone was targeting the bleachers made tears come to my eyes and fury build in my chest. The bleachers. The stands. The place where family, friends, and race volunteers wait and cheer. My concern quickly turned into terror as I thought, "Who are we dealing with here? What kind of sicko would do this?" The bleachers are nothing but a happy, joyful, supportive place. Why?
The people in the bleachers get none of the glory. They may not be waking up at 5am to log their miles, but they do their part by emptying the dishwasher, folding the running socks, and endlessly entertaining the kid(s). Over and over again, Brian has taken Scotty out to dinner, to the park, or to breakfast in order to allow me time to get my runs in. Just a few weeks ago, he left work early to pick up the Bear because I was running a "fun" 5K. He left early so I could run around a park. Seriously. He didn't even complain.
Brian hasn't felt the sore muscles, but he's silently and without criticism tripped over the piles of running shoes by the door, allowed me to lay on the couch and moan, and run to the pharmacy to purchase whatever heat wrap/anti-inflammatory requested. He's accustomed to my early bedtime, fewer date nights. The night before last year's Summerlin half-marathon, he held my hand while offering numerous (cheesy) lines from sports movies, trying to calm me down and inspire to run my best. In the face of a weather forecast that was calling for gale force winds and rain, I was ready to cancel the whole thing. He told me to "die for that inch" (or something like that) and how did that translate? A new PR for me.
And what of the friends? Sonnya and Tiffany both sent candles and bath salts, along with letters of encouragement, before my first ever half-marathon. Or Michelle, who showed up in the dark of night at the Red Rock half, clutching a box of my favorite cupcakes? And my son, who innocently and joyfully ran with me through the last 10 feet of the Summerlin half so we could cross the finish line together?
This is who the bombers were targeting.
Vile. Repulsive. Horrifying.
All runners have a Brian, a Scotty or a Michelle in their lives. Runners get to enjoy the endorphin high, the medal and banana waiting for them, and the fun of posting pictures on Facebook, wearing their bibs and flashing the "#1" sign. Friends and family are the silent partners, the ones cheering us on, the ones getting none of the credit but still give their time, energy and love.
So thank you to everyone who's ever attended a race, sat in the hot sun, or froze in the bleachers. Thank you to the people who pass out medals, bananas, and water bottles. Thank you to those who don't get the Facebook shout-outs but instead, battle the crowds to park the car. To my husband, my son, my friends, and my family, volunteers, the good people of Boston, and race watchers everywhere:
For the bottom of my heart, thank you.