*Brace yourself – this is probably the longest post I’ll ever write. It’s a way for me to record my feelings while the experience is fresh in my mind and so, while sincere, my words may sound highly dramatic. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.*
Wow – today is the first time since Monday afternoon that I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Although I’ve been on vacation from work this week, it has by far been one of the most stressful weeks that I can recall. Not only was I faced with hearing about the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, my car broke down shortly after in Bar Harbor and left my mom and I with a big mess to deal with throughout our vacation.
I can say, though, that despite the bad things that happened this week, I’m left with an overwhelming sense of positivity, gratitude, and pride in humanity. This week is supposed to be my ‘peak week’ in training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, and it’s interesting how running became such a focus for me this week while also taking the backseat in many instances throughout the chaos. Unfortunately, I don’t have my camera to share all of the beautiful pictures my mom and I took during our stay because it’s with all of my stuff back in Maine with my car. So, here is a breakdown of this week’s events and a few scattered pictures to go along with it.
My mom and I drove to Bar Harbor from Biddeford – a beautiful, sunny 3.5 hour drive with no issues.
We checked into our bed & breakfast, ate lunch, and headed into Acadia National Park. Standing at the foot of Gorham Mountain, with no cell service, we asked a stranger who was walking her dog where the trail head was. After sharing that I was from Boston, she asked me if I had heard about the bombings and I thought for a moment that the woman might be a little nutty and didn’t believe her. I dug my phone out of my purse and found 8 missed calls and 20 text messages from people frantically trying to get a hold of me and figure out if I was alright. I’ve run the marathon the past 2 years and live on the marathon route, so many of my friends and relatives were justifiably worried.
We drove down to an area of Acadia where we could get cell service, and I contacted everyone to let them know I was okay, and found out more information about the bombings. I was literally in a state of shock watching the videos and just couldn’t believe it. We drove into town and stopped at a store to get some groceries, and when we came back, my car wouldn’t start. I really wasn’t sure how to react or what to do, and it seemed as though my body started going into panic mode with everything happening at once. The car was towed to Bar Harbor Auto Body across the street, and we went back to our hotel where I stared at the news coverage in disbelief under a pile of blankets.
We woke up early and headed to Bar Island, a small island off of Bar Harbor that is only accessible via a sand bar that is exposed during low tide. I was very, very upset about the bombings and getting out into nature made me feel a lot better. I told myself I’d go for a run later on in the day to explore Acadia some more and clear my thoughts, but it didn’t happen. After we got back to the Inn, we found out that the car would have to be towed 40 miles to Bangor, ME, since it was still under warranty. So, I got to ride in my first tow truck with Jeff – probably the nicest, “salt of the earth” tow truck guy I’ve ever met.
Jeff told us all about his fishing stories – he’s caught calico lobsters, blue lobsters, sea turtles, and seen killer whales off the coast of Maine. Needless to say, I had very little to contribute to the conversation, but it was actually really nice to talk about something that I literally had no knowledge of. We got to the Bangor dealership and they still didn’t know what was wrong with the car, so they loaned us Cookie Monster for the evening.
We got back just in time for dinner, where in an act of desperation, we ordered the most non-vegan, unforgiving mac & cheese I’ve ever had. I ate maybe 8 bites and wanted to roll to the car like Violet Beauregarde (ironically the same color as the car):
I woke up early and headed out into Acadia for a silent 6 mile run. I ran by the ocean along West St., up into Acadia via Duck Brook Rd., then onto the carriage roads around Witch Hole. It was breathtakingly beautiful and quiet – just what I needed. I stopped many times just to breathe in the fresh forest air and look out over the trees and the ocean. I thought a lot about what it is about running that I like so much, and how much I appreciate it as a major part of my life. I felt calm and relaxed and tried to send out some positive thoughts for everyone affected by the bombing before heading back into town.
My mom and I ate breakfast and walked along the Shore Path while we waited from a phone call from the dealership about the status of the car. It was our last day in Bar Harbor, so we were very worried about getting back to Boston in time for my mom’s train on Thursday – but we tried to make the most of our time since a lot of it had been cut short by the whole car fiasco anyway.
We found out the car had been fixed, swapped it for Cookie Monster in Bangor, then drove down to Portland.
We woke up, ate breakfast at the Inn, and drove to Biddeford to pick up Chuie from Derek’s parents’ house. Throughout the entire drive over, the car wreaked of gas and we couldn’t figure out why. Derek’s dad looked at the car and couldn’t figure it out either, so we drove it over to the mechanic just to be safe. Of course, since nothing had really worked out as we had planned during this vacation, he told us the car was unsafe to drive back to Boston and would need to be repaired. I basically just gave up at this point and surrendered to the karma of the week. With only a couple of hours before my mom’s train was scheduled to leave Boston, we literally just jumped in Derek’s dad’s car and he was kind enough to drive us to the city.
After saying good-bye to my mom, Chuie and I went home to our apartment and laid around like a sack of potatoes all afternoon. I was relieved to be back home in Boston, but filled with a sense of uneasiness because of how much had changed since I left on Sunday morning. Derek came home from work and we ran downtown to Copley, which was mostly my idea. Derek had been in the city since Tuesday and felt as though he had moved on from the shock of what had happened, but I felt like I needed to go down there in order to get over it. I brought one of the roses Derek had given me on my birthday, only 2 weeks ago, and we laid it by the makeshift memorial that people had set up over the past couple of days. I didn’t bring my camera or anything besides the flower because I wanted to just experience the moment of being there, but here is a photo that you may have already seen on the news and in the media:
There were so many news crews, electrical cords, reporters, and bright lights surrounding the area that it was just too overwhelming for me. We walked on the other side of the finish line and at one point I looked over and saw Trinity Church and that’s when it all hit me. I remembered when Derek and I had finished the marathon the past two years and laid down on the grass of the church completely exhausted and how awesome the grass felt underneath our tired bodies. I remembered how accomplished I felt and how there really was no better feeling than overcoming the doubts in your own mind. Then I realized that instead of pride and overwhelming joy, runners on Monday were overcome with fear and anxiety. I just couldn’t handle the thought of it, along with seeing my beloved finish line turned into a crime scene, and I broke down where I stood. After a few minutes, I wiped my face and ran back home with way too many thoughts going through my head.
I woke up to a phone call around 5am that I quickly silenced and then tried to go back to sleep. I got another call probably 30 minutes later, and did the same thing. My mom called me a few minutes after, and deciding that maybe something was happening, I answered. She told me that there had been a shoot out in Watertown with the bombing suspects, that one police officer was dead, another wounded, and one of the suspects was at large. Shocked, I woke Derek up and turned on the news to find out that the T had been closed and that we were being ordered to stay in our houses with our doors locked. I immediately became very, very scared. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and it just seemed so out of control and almost unbelievable. The area of Watertown where the gun fight took place is less than 2 miles from our apartment, and less than .5 miles from the school I work at. I was so, so thankful that it was vacation week and none of the kids were at school. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if we had been at work. Derek and I literally watched the news all day long until it felt like our eyeballs might fall out. I texted all of my friends and coworkers to make sure that they were alright, and we just watched in horror as our local Target became the headquarters of the FBI and pretty much every police department in New England.
It was very strange to sit in our house all day long and not see a single person walking on the street, but on the other hand, observe a black hawk helicopter flying over us. At one point, we heard something that sounded like pellets or bullets going off and I literally almost pooped my pants. Derek and I turned everything off and crept around the apartment, eventually figuring out that a bag of Chuie’s food had fallen off the refrigerator and spilled all over the floor. I guess you could say we were a little on edge.
Hours later, after the stay put ban had been lifted, we took Chuie for a walk in the neighborhood even though we were still pretty uneasy about the whole thing. The suspect still hadn’t been found, and he potentially could have been anywhere at that point. On our way back home, we peeked into a bar and saw the news saying that they had located his crazy a$$ in a boat in Watertown not far from where they had been looking. I swear this story is just so incredibly nutty, no one could ever make it up. Anyway, we walked back home and turned on the news again in complete disbelief. Once he had been arrested though – holy moly was that a good feeling. It was like the entire city just exploded into a party. We could hear people singing and shouting in the streets around us and we watched everyone clapping for the police on TV. It was such an awesome feeling and I honestly couldn’t have felt more proud to live in Boston. I am still so impressed by the courage and strength that our law enforcement showed throughout this whole thing. And did you all see Mayor Menino in his wheelchair? That poor man has been so sick and has had a hell of a year but he took eviery chance he could to talk about how resilient our city is. Loved that.
So now that I’ve blabbed on and on seemingly without end, if you’re still reading, here are my final thoughts on this week’s events:
Even though there are evil, sick people in this world, kindness, courage, and strength will always defeat them. It’s just a fact.
I love running marathons and will continue to do so without fear. I can’t wait to run the Pittsburgh Marathon in two weeks. I’m going to push harder than I ever have to honor my city, the victims of this tragedy, and everyone who was affected by it.
I am SO proud of the people of Boston, our law enforcement, first responders, and all of the people who risked their lives to keep us safe. Thank you for ensuring that I get to do what I love every day.
I saw this on my 10 mile run yesterday and it made me smile. If you look closely, you’ll see that they’re wearing medals from the 2012 Mount Desert Island Marathon that I ran in October. Seeing this really gave me a sense of hope that there is still good in the world. After all, the beauty of Mount Desert Island helped me get through the stress of this week when I was away, and here is a little piece of it in my backyard
Here’s a video to make you feel warm & fuzzy if you don’t already:
Boston strong. Boston proud. Goodnight!