Boston, you're (now) my home.

Sunday morning brought a routine that's been absent from my weekends for quite some time.

My alarm woke me at 6am and I fumbled to the bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and strap my heart rate monitor on.  As a cup of coffee brewed, I pulled on my new Lululemon running top and laced up my ol' faithful Brooks, calling to Brian one last time that it was "REALLY time to get up."

After 5 months of pretty much zero running, I was going to run a 5k.  A few months ago, at the insistence of my friend and coworker Meridith, I agreed to sign up to run the Boston Athletic Association Distance Medley-- a 5k in April (the day before the Boston Marathon), a 10k in June, and a half in October.  While I've been working out, it certainly hasn't been with the intention of running a race, so to say that the 5k snuck up on me is a bit of an understatement.  After a lot of self-talk, both positive and negative, I came to an agreement with myself-- this was not going to be my best 5k.  It would not be my fastest race, and I honestly wasn't even sure if I would be able to run the full race (yes, that would be 3.1 mile doubts from the girl who trained to run a marathon half a year ago), BUT... I was going to try and I would give it my all.

View of the Hancock Tower, driving in to the city

Brian, my ever-faithful photographer and cheerer on-er, drove me in and walked with me through the thousands of runners to pick-up my number and race shirt, gave me a good luck kiss, and headed off to set-up further down the course.  After ten minutes or so of jumping around to keep warm (it was FREEZING), the clock struck 8am and we were off.  

As I chugged my way down Boylston Street towards the Common and around the Public Garden, I couldn't help but smile to myself and think how much I love running through downtown Boston.  We all made the curve down Newbury Street then wove over to Comm Ave and I was reminded of how much I love this street, full of old brownstones, couples walking to brunch, families sitting on their front stoops to cheer the runners on.  As we headed towards Charlesgate I looked up and saw the infamous Citgo sign ahead of me and felt a surge of energy to push myself up the last little hill.  My eyes started searching for the street that I was so looking forward to running down and then I saw it: Hereford, and as myself and the other 10+ minute milers made the turn onto that little street and a left onto Boylston, the cheering of the crowd absolutely amplified and I looked up to see the famous Boston Marathon finish line ahead of me right in the heart of Copley Square.  Not knowing what else to do, I pulled my earbuds out and let the moment soak in, and as I crossed the finish line I couldn't help but break into the biggest grin.

26.2 miles it was not, but I had run a 5k, my first race in months, without stopping and with the final step across the finish line of THE Boston Marathon.  My heart was full and happy, in a way that I think only fellow runners could understand.  My race was much smaller compared to what 27,000 runners would face the following day, but I crossed in the same spot that the most elite runners in the world would also stand, and that feeling is amazing.

A quick picture in Copley Square-- please excuse the shine.  
The finish line is behind me (you can see the tiny bit of orange right above my head).  
The Boston Public Library is directly covered by the tree on the left, and Trinity Church is on the right.

Yesterday, April 15th, was Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts.  My company observes the holiday so I had the day off, but Brian had to go in so I dropped him off at the train and proceeded with my Day of Katie, which sounds much more indulgent than it was.  I wrapped up on the couch with George, Sam, Robin and Josh while enjoying a blueberry iced coffee and delightful breakfast, courtesy of moi.  I had big plans to try out a new running path later in the afternoon but knew that I wanted to watch as much of the marathon coverage as I could.

As I sat there, sipping my coffee and watching the local news people interview the spectators and chat with runners before the race began, I felt teary.  I think that a part of it was craving that moment for myself, to be at the start of the marathon and about to endure something that you've trained so hard for, but the majority of me just felt pure excitement for every single person on that course.  Whether it was for the elite athletes racing to place with their time, or the average athlete (that would be me) lining up for their first official 26.2 miles, the excitement was THERE.  It was palpable and strong enough to have me considering going in to watch the race near Kenmore Square, walking distance from my office.  At one point I started picking up around the apartment and doing the little things that I wanted to do before the end of the day, thinking that if I was going to go in to watch the race, that I'd want it all taken care of when we came home later that evening.  

But something made me sit back down.  I was riding high on my large coffee and could probably have shot energy through my fingertips, but somewhere in between scrubbing the stove and fluffing/Febreezing the couch cushions, this overwhelming sense of tired came over me, and I thought "Meh, I'll hang home and avoid the crazy crowds today."  

I've never in all of my life felt so grateful for exhaustion.

So I parked myself back on the couch and simultaneously Googled "how to qualify for Boston marathon" (liquid coffee courage) while watching the winners break the tape, the elite athletes follow closely behind, and then the normal runners-- my favorites-- start to trickle through.  

Coverage ended around 1:30, so I decided to head out and tackle my run at the park.  It was a gorgeous day-- sunny enough to warm the chilled air but not balmy by any means, so perfect running weather.  Driving back home, I felt very at peace and content.  I was thinking of all of the runners on the course and how it was such a perfect day to run a marathon.  The first thing I did when I walked in my door was check the status of the runner friends whom I was tracking.  I noticed that one, running mama Kristin, was right at Mile 25, so I figured I'd have enough time to jump in the shower and be out in time to see her "cross" the finish online.  

It was about 2:45pm.

As I stood to walk to the shower, one of Brian's cousins who works for a prominent news show in New York called me.

"Katie, do you have Jeff's phone number?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"There are reports that there was a bombing at the marathon finish line."
"... He's working at the finish line today."
"I know, I have to try and get in touch with him."

Honestly, after giving her the number, I hung up and didn't think anything of it.  Part of her job is to get informed tips before anyone else, so my thought process was "It's the BOSTON MARATHON-- nothing like that would ever happen.  I'm sure everything is fine."

Post-shower, I could hear my phone vibrating like crazy.  I knew that my mom had the day off and figured that it was likely her, calling to tell me something cute that their newly adopted cat (deemed Brother Alex by the brother and I, since Mom insists on calling it our sibling...) had done, so I ignored it and got dressed, dawdling in my room a bit.

When I picked up my phone and saw 6 missed calls from home and a screen full of text messages, I felt all of the color drain from my face.  I didn't think that that actually happened, but I can tell you-- I'm pretty sure it can happen because I went from feeling wonderful to absolutely terrified in a matter of seconds.  "Home" calling again so I answered as I changed the channel to the local news station... and there it all was.

And I lost it a little.

My first instinct was to find people.  I knew that I had runners who hadn't yet finished, and that their families and friends were waiting somewhere along the course.  I had friends working the race-- Brian's cousin's company monitors the time tracking, so he was at the finish line all day, and two coworkers were volunteering in the area.  My friend Meridith had VIP tickets to sit in the grandstands right at mile 26 to watch and cheer people through the end.  I've never felt that feeling before, of knowing that something horrendous has happened, that you have people in the middle of it, and that you have no. idea. how to find them and make sure they're okay.

Slowly, in between calling home just to have my mom and dad on the phone and bawling my eyes out, I called and texted everyone that I needed to find.

Brian's office is close to 20 minutes away from the area, so I knew that he would technically be "safe," but in that moment there was nothing that I needed to hear more than his voice on the other end of the phone, saying the words "I'm okay."  His office wasn't releasing anyone early, so he ended up staying until a little before 5pm and taking the train home.

Jeff, Brian's cousin, had been released from his position at the finish at 2:30, just 20 minutes before the explosions, and was halfway home.  

Meridith was sitting in the bleachers in between the two explosions but across the street, and made her way back to her apartment in Cambridge, courtesy of a ride offered by a stranger, around 4pm.

Caitlin and Andrew were at a friend's apartment a significant ways away from the incident but still in the city and about 2 miles away-- close, according to my own standards.  They stayed put for awhile and eventually made their way back home.  

My runner friends were stopped around Mile 25 and at least one managed to cross the alternate finish line.  She knew that her husband and one of her daughters were waiting for her at the end and she ran those last 1.2 miles knowing that an explosion had happened but having no idea where her family had ended up-- I cannot even begin to fathom that feeling (they did reunite later, healthy and safe).

For the next two hours, I couldn't move from in front of the TV-- I felt like I just couldn't absorb enough of the coverage and I didn't want to stop watching or even turn the television off.  I sat with my hair in a towel, crying, answering texts and calls from family and friends to let them know I was okay, and thank God for keeping me home and away from it all.  

At one point I decided to put Facebook to use and posted a note that Brian and I were both safe and away from downtown, and logged off.  

When I checked in two hours later, the number of messages and prayers that My People sent my way sent me into tears again.  It may sound silly, but while I always know that my loved ones love me, it's amazing to see that love on full display.  Everyone from aunts and uncles to people I graduated high school with left a comment to let me know that I was in their thoughts and prayers.  One guy, whom I've never technically been "friends" with but have known since preschool, said this: 

Good to hear. I know I don't know you well but I heard "Boston" and "marathon" and remembered your running blog/living in Boston. Didn't know whether you ran today but good that everyone is safe.

People came out of the woodwork to say that they were thinking of me and Brian, and we were lucky enough to not have been directly affected at all.  Few things have ever made me feel so blessed, so cared for, and so loved.

The rest of the evening was just... unsettling.  The news channels started playing the same video over and over, and I reached a point where I just couldn't watch it anymore.  Brian poured me a glass of wine and I watched Rachel and Brad on Bravo and tried to zone out, for just a little bit to clear my mind.

Didn't work.  

An hour of tossing and turning finally gave way to sleep, but I must have woken up three other times throughout the night to check my phone for updates.  I was wide awake when my alarm went off at 6:15am, and today was "business as usual" for both of us in the city, so I woke up and started to go about my day.

I'm not going to lie and say that I felt awesome and confident about coming into Boston today.  I work in a largely populated area and take public transportation-- I was scared.  A part of me feels like that's the wrong emotion to have because that's what they, whoever did this, want.  They want us to feel scared and worry about the chance that this may not be over.  What if this wasn't a one-time thing and as soon as we all collect our thoughts, another incident happens?  I'm a very positive person, and I try not to dwell on the past and on the negatives, but I've never been this close to something like this before and the thought that our city has been hurt and is threatened is so scary.  

A small consolation is that it's not just me-- everyone is on edge.  Walking in to my office today, I couldn't help but notice how everyone still looked a little stunned.  A man dropped his phone by accident on my bus this morning and when it hit the floor and made a loud noise, a woman screamed.  There were lines of state police officers and National Guard soldiers lined up at my train stop, and that's a pretty unsettling sight usually... but it completely comforted me today.

This may not be my hometown, but Boston is now my home, and as scared as I am about what has happened, I am also ANGRY.  I am angry for the families who have lost loved ones.  I am angry for the victims who have suffered this horrendous tragedy and for the injuries that they've sustained.  I am angry for the spectators who came out to cheer on the runners at the part of the race when that last push means the world-- through the finish.  

Most significantly to me, I am angry for the runners.  The day of the Boston Marathon is such an amazing, celebrated day.  People come out in droves to cheer on these amazing athletes, from the fastest ultramarathoner who qualified without even trying, to the 62 year old grandmother who's running for a charity.  To be there and cheering with all of your heart is something to be experienced, a feeling that you can't quite put your finger on but that just makes you feel so content and happy and united on Marathon Monday.  

The glory and celebration of this day was robbed from the runners, and I feel for them.  How can you truly feel victorious at this accomplishment when there's such tragedy overshadowing it?  My heart goes out to every single runner, whether they crossed the finish line or not, because they deserve to feel proud and accomplished for tackling this goal and finishing as much as they could finish before they were stopped on the course.  I would pray that they do not feel guilt for wanting to feel proud of their accomplishment, because they so deserve that moment to shine, if anything to shine through all of the shadows right now.  The stories that blew my mind yesterday were of runners crossing the finish line and continuing to run to the hospitals to donate blood, or turning right back around to help the victims.  

I don't know what the purpose of this attack was.  I don't know why it happened at such a celebratory event, why it happened at the time that it did, what the terrorists aimed to accomplish.  What I do know is that the last thing that this did was push Boston apart.  If anything, this city is the strongest that I've ever seen it.  There's very much a "If you mess with one of us, you've messed with us all" kind of vibe, and that puts my mind at ease just a little bit more than it was yesterday.

The running community has come together and vowed that we will not stop running.  This will not prevent us from putting one foot in front of the other and pounding the pavement all across the city.  Is it scary to think that events like this are being targeted?  Yes.  I'm running NYC this fall and am terrified-- now a marathon has been struck and it's in Boston; what could happen in New York?

But I can't let myself think like that because I'll honestly never leave my bed.  I'm facing the world and Boston today with my faith and hope for the victims and their families, for law enforcement to find who did this, for all people who were in the area and were first responders without a thought in their mind to stop them.  

As for me, I'm going to just keep on doing what I feel like I'm meant to do- run without pause, without doubt, always with meaning, always with purpose.

Driving home from the 5k on Sunday morning-- with my medal.


  1. You were the first person I thought of when I heard the news. Glad you are safe. Praying for those that aren't.


  2. I was so worried about you! So glad you're okay. I realized other than blogs I really have no way to contact you :) I'll be praying for you and Brian and all of your people. I'm so sorry you had to experience this.

  3. I am glad you and your friends are safe. It was so scary to hear. There are thousands of people doing something they enjoy and this happens. I hope they catch the person fast.
    And I am sure you will do fine completing all the races.