Then my sister texted me "2 bombs detonated at marathon finish" and that was how I heard about the tragedy in Boston.
This morning some of my closest girlfriends, girls I had talked to only a couple days ago were out there-bibs on an ready to run-posting on Facebook "I run this town", "En route to the start!!", and "preparing to be inspired!!"
Having run a marathon there is nothing like the elation of finishing, the experience of pushing your body to its limit, the roar of the crowd, and the sheer camaraderie of fellow runners surrounding you. Boston is "the" marathon. One of the toughest in the world to qualify for, and known to anyone who runs as the best of the best.
The coverage throughout the morning, tracking the elites, made me miss my walk to work though Commonwealth Avenue and down Boylston street in front of the public library where I used to stop 2 or 3 times a week, the Marathon Sports store whose running group I was a part of for 3 years and where I was fitted for dozens of shoes, and the Finish line where for 2 years I had joined in the revelry that is Patriot's Day in Boston. I was monitoring my friends' times and feeling proud…and jealous.
And then around 2 o'clock this afternoon my phone started to buzz.
I saw the smoke in a place I am more familiar with than most places in Austin. I saw the my old office window in the photographs at the scene and my apartment in the aerial footage. I saw so many runners just collapsing and crying and running. I worried about my friends frantically refreshing all my social media and responded to other friends who worried that I was there. I thanked god that my sister had missed qualifying by 4 minutes, and hated myself for thanking god for that.
I am 3000 miles away, and I am sick with sadness because I can so perfectly picture every minute of it. I know what it is to finish, to be completely depleted-but I can't imagine what it is to run 20+ miles and have a bomb go off and be unable to run any faster than you have the previous 20. To have no place to run to. To worry about all the people who loved you enough to support you at the race and not know where they were or if they were okay. To know that the runner who passed you and gave you a pep talk for no other reason than runners take care of each other could be dead. That a place as familiar to you as the back your hand, a place where you knew the divits in the sidewalk was soaked in blood and screams.
I am a runner, so I can imagine the terror and depletion, and the annoyance of the runners as they were slowed to a stop before they knew what was going on. I am a runner so I know what "Boston" means-years of tradition, pride, athleticism, inspiration, and excellence and I hate that in an instant someone could change that connotation.
I am a nomad. No place has ever felt quite like home to me, but the streets of Back Bay and the Charles River where I ran almost daily and slipped into moments of quiet consciousness are some of the places that I've felt most at home.
Boston is where I learned to love to run. And maybe that, more than any other reason is why I feel guilty for not being there-my community was attacked, and I'm not sure if it hurts more because it was a place I called home or to a group of people that as a collective always make me feel like I'm home.
Pray for Boston.