"You're taking her?!"
A few months ago, I was happily telling a mother-runner friend about how this year's Boston Marathon so nicely lined up with my fourth grader's spring break. She could come with me without missing school! Everyone wins!
My friend's eyes widened with shock and horror. "You're taking her with you to Boston?!?"
Well, yes. I never considered NOT taking her.
Last year in the Boston Marathon I had just turned onto Boylston Street (see photo) when the first bomb went off. Like so many people, I had enough time to think Hmmm, something is amiss, but just keep plodding to finish line. When the second bomb went off, I was close enough to see flames but not close enough to be hurt or see anyone hurt (thank God).
I was in Boston as a Runner's World employee -- to speak in seminars, attend functions, meet and greet runners -- and also to run the race, my tenth Boston marathon. While I was there with many colleagues, I had traveled solo: my daughter was home with her dad (no longer my husband), my two closest running buddies hadn't signed up, and neither had my sister. Amid all the families and buzz and hoopla and celebration, I felt, quite honestly, very lonely. Even before anything happened, I vowed never to come to Boston alone again.
When that second bomb went off, I completely forgot that I was a journalist working for the leading running magazine in America who probably should, you know, do her JOB, reporting the scene at the finish line, and took off: for my bag, for my flight, for my home. (I did go to work in PA the next day, but everyone else was still in Boston. Duh!)
So when the good people of the Boston Athletic Association decided to extend a guaranteed entry to all the 2013 runners who hadn't been able to finish, of course I accepted. No question. (And of course I had to try to requalify, which I did -- with a 3:54 in Vermont Cities, thank you very much!) "You didn't cross the finish line," my fourth grader said. "You have to cross the finish line."
But why am I taking my daughter?
I put this question to my training pal Fast Teacher Friend on a cold and snowy long run in February. She's teaches first grade, so she's really good at distilling complex ideas down to their essence. And she's bringing her own children, ages 14 and 17, to Boston too. (Her super-supportive husband will take all the kids while we race. Thank you, Bret!)
Why are we taking our kids to Boston?
"Because by going we are setting an example," she said. "We are showing the kids we're not going to let last year's events change what we do. By going, and by bringing them, we're showing bravery and resilience, perseverance and even patriotism."
Bravery, resilience, perseverance, patriotism. Well said! (You see why I love her.)
The Boston Marathon has a long and rich tradition extending way back before 2013 and hopefully way into the future. As 1968 Boston champ Amby Burfoot and RW contrib and Wait! Wait! host Peter Sagal have both said, it's our honor and privilege and duty to take Boston back from the criminals and give it back to the people. It's going to be a very emotional journey, with both tears for the unfathomable heartbreak of the affected families and shouts of joy for everyone running from Hopkinton all the way to the finish line.
And yes, I want my daughter there.