A Letter to my Daughter about the Boston Marathon 4/17

race5Dear Alexandra,

It was Monday about 4 pm when I heard the devastating news about the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. You and I had just come in from a little walk with Sparty through the neighborhood and you were sleeping (something you rarerly do during the day). I looked at my phone and saw that I had missed text messages from family. When I started scrolling through I realized that something awful had happened and turned on the news, just as my dad (your grandpa) was calling to tell me.

With you still in your car seat sleeping, I stared at the tv screen in shock and horror at the video they were repeating over and over again.

You obviously won’t remember this day and had no idea what was going on as you slept peacefully. Someday though you will hear about the attack and I want to be able to tell you what exactly was going through my mind on that day.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the U.S. and its run every April on Patriots Day in Boston. Patriots Day in Boston is a huge celebration, similar to New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Most residents have the day off of work (except for emergency workers and restaurant and bar employees, etc) and come out to be spectators for the marathon that is the pride and joy of their great city. It is the best spectated marathon in the US.

The Boston Marathon also happens to be a very prestigious marathon, and only those that qualify are able to run it. Some runners attempt to qualify their whole life and it has become a sort of “bucket list” event for most if not all in the running community.

Just last year, your daddy and I ran it together. It was something we had both always wanted to do, and we both happened to be qualified at the same time. I remember when we signed up even. For the first time in history, the Boston Marathon Association had a tiered registration process because the year before the race had sold out in 1 hour! I had beat my qualifying time by over 20 minutes so I was able to sign up on the first day. Daddy at that point had beat his qualifying time by under two minutes so he was in the last wave and he was certain he wasn’t going to get in. He registered on line as soon as possible that last day and we waited anxiously to get confirmation that he would make it in. When his email finally came a few days later we were elated and he was shocked! He had made it in by about 17 seconds. That is really important, because if he hadn’t made the cut off that year, we may have very well been running the marathon this year…which also would mean that you wouldn’t have been born. Sometimes its so crazy when you stop and think in life how 17 seconds could have changed the course of your life so much.

So we made it in and immediately made reservations for hotels and flights. We planned to make a whole vacation out of it and explore the city. Well, since the Boston Marathon is a big race and mommy tends to not do so well at big races, we decided to do another marathon 8 weeks before Boston to try to run a fast time. All winter mommy and daddy trained together and our winter marathon in Myrtle Beach went great for mommy, not so great for daddy when his hamstring went out at mile 20. However, after the marathon it was mommy that got hurt. I strained my IT band pretty bad and was unable to run hardly at all in the 8 weeks leading up to Boston.

A few days before we left I also came down with a severe upper respiratory infection. I was still determined to run. We had already made our reservations and signed up and everything.

Once we arrived in Boston the city started experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Temperatures were predicted to be in the low 90’s on race day and the race directors kept sending out emails urging people to not run. And then they decided to allow people to defer their entry from the race and have guaranteed entry the following year (this year). Well, we actually thought about it. I was honestly in no shape to run a marathon. But since Tim and I had made it in and decided that 2012 was the year we were running, we started to also plan a big event we wanted in 2013…the birth of a baby. I knew I shouldn’t run that year…but I also knew that I really wanted to have a baby the next year…which meant, no running the Boston Marathon. So we made the decision to run in 2012. We finished the race in over 5 hours. It was dreadful. Mommy got severely dehydrated and we ended up walking the majority of the marathon. Daddy never left my side though, and was so supportive and it was then that I really knew we could get through anything togeher, and felt more ready than ever to have a baby.

All day on Monday I was thinking about the marathon and what daddy and I had been through together the year before. I had been looking at pictures and smiling at the memory of the whole experience. After I heard that someone placed bombs along the finish line my whole day completely changed.

I thought about how happy daddy and I were to finally see that finish line and imagined that all the other runners were feeling the same way. It was such an emotional and surreal experience to cross that finish line and I thought of all the runners that will forever have that memory of a moment that should have been pure delight be tainted with the hurt that someone deliberately caused. I looked at you sleeping in your carrier and cried for those runners and for the innocent spectators that were hurt and killed. Especially when they announced that one of the victims was an 8 year old boy. I thought of how he was probably there watching his mommy or daddy and I lost it completely and wept for his family.

The fact that in different circumstances this could have been us makes it hit home that much harder and made me realize everything in my life that I have to be thankful for, especially you.

Running is such a big part of mine and daddy’s lives and we plan to take you along to so many of our races. I sometimes think about the day that you’ll be cheering for me at the finish line and how it will motivate me even more to push during that final stretch of the race.

What I want to tell you about the horrible events on Monday is that I don’t want it to ruin your joy or make you afraid. Admist all the evil there was also a lot of good that was occuring. We saw images of workers rushing in to help, runners turning and around and going back to help other runners. I’ve heard of residents of Boston offering their homes to stranded runners with nothing but the sweaty clothes on their backs that couldn’t get into their hotels. So with all the evil that exists in this world, I chose to believe there is much more good.

At anytime, anywhere we are something could happen to any one of us. I choose to trust that God will take us when we’re needed and not go about my life living in fear. Terrorists, by definition aim to cause terror in people. I will not let them. I hope someday that your daddy and I will run the Boston Marathon again, maybe even with you if you should choose to and if mine and daddy’s bodies are still able enough to run a marathon.

I love you more than you will ever know (until you have a child of your own) and want to protect you from all the bad in the world, even though I know I cannot. Live your life to the fullest every day and never forget to appreciate everything you have (or it should be EVERYONE you have since things end up being of little importance). Even if you don’t ever want to run the Boston Marathon, I hope someday you will visit the city and experience the marathon and all that magic that it contains.

Love Always,

Mommy

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