Just Let Me Run

The day before the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I was privileged to be a spectator at the Rotterdam Marathon & 10K in nearby Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Marathoners!

Marathoners! just starting out (note the grim determination and cautious optimism)

The full marathon began at 10:30, and the 10K followed from the same starting gate on a different route after a delay (to get all those marathoners on their long, long way). I don’t normally watch races, since I only started attending them around the time I began running them. But on Sunday, Tim was running the 10K, so after wishing him luck in startvak B, I set out to find a good viewing position.

And was promptly stuck in a suffocating, absolutely stationary crowd of fans.

I began to despair that I would ever get near the course, and even after I finally did—I realized that the course ran on a lot of divided roads (tram tracks or an underpass in the middle), making it very difficult to pick out a specific runner, unless you had predetermined on which side he intended to run (we had not). As the runners with B on their bibs faded to Cs and Ds, I realized I had missed him, and I was disappointed and frustrated. Together with an Israeli woman I had just met, I raced through more crowds to try and find a view of the back end of the course.

I finally saw Tim as he passed with about a mile to go. He ran right by with a big smile and thumbs up, as I pushed the button on my camera over and over again with no effect—I’d shut it off.

Passing under Rotterdam's famous Cube Houses

Passing under Rotterdam’s famous Cube Houses

Seriously, I was thinking, watching a race is so much more stressful than running it. Just let me run.

This was a day before spectators at Boston were blasted by explosives.

My sister (who ran a 3:31:40 in Boston’s heat-wave marathon of 2012) was a spectator at Boston on Monday. She wasn’t hurt. She would have been running, but for an injury. Yesterday she blogged her thoughts on the day, and I was so impressed that I wanted to share her reflections with you.

I’m pasting the entry below, but you can link to her original blog here:

One if by land, two if by sea.

I wandered the Boston Marathon expo on Saturday, picked up my packet and shirt, and shed a few tears about the race I wouldn’t run, thanks to continuing issues with my right hip. Thankfully it’s hard to stay sad at the Boston Marathon expo for long.

I watched what I can assume was a first-timer pick up his bib and just stare at it, as if it would bite him. I watched a mess of runners anxiously trying on their shirts, asking family members for advice on fit. I walked through the huge Adidas shop with the official marathon gear and saw excited runners purchasing their signature Boston Marathon jacket. I watched curious runners trying out The Stick (seriously, what runner hasn’t heard of The Stick by now?), and walked on to the pop-up shops of the big athletic companies.

One of my favorite things about the Boston Marathon expo is that several huge athletic brands make entire lines of clothing just for Boston every year, and every year each brand has a theme. These shops make us average runners feel like professionals, offering race gear tailored to our race, each with bigger and better slogans on the best new fabrics.

It may sound odd and a little tacky, but New Balance‘s Paul Revere theme brought me out of my funk, and reinforced my excitement to cheer.

from the Expo

from the Expo

I explained Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride to my boyfriend, not originally from the United States, as we wandered through the New Balance shop two days before the race:

The night of April 18th, 1775 Paul Revere eluded British patrol to alert church vestrymen to light two lanterns in the North Church of Charlestown, signifying that British troops were approaching Lexington via the Charles River. Revere then rode on horseback to Lexington to warn the Massachusetts Congress, alerting other riders and every house on his journey. The alarms enabled the militia to meet the British soldiers before they reached Lexington, who then retreated to Boston.

This day and the successes of the ensuing battles are celebrated in Massachusetts as Patriots’ Day, now a public holiday that includes the annual running of the Boston Marathon and a late morning Red Sox game.

Each brightly colored shirt, pair of shorts and tights, and even the shoes in the New Balance shop had a logo of Paul Revere riding to Lexington holding a glowing lantern, and the gear was loaded with reflective material. Super practical and so freaking cool. High five, New Balance.

One of the first solid facts to come out of the tragedy that occurred yesterday was that the police had no knowledge that this attack was coming. There was no warning, no one to light a lantern or ride through the streets. Boston did not have a modern-day Paul Revere to prevent the fatalities and injuries from the bombs on Boylston Street yesterday.

What Boston had was an enormous number of people with the same spirit Revere had in 1775, the spirit to help and protect friends, family, and total strangers, and minimize casualties. People from all over lit their own lanterns in Boston this Patriots’ Day.

Marathoners ran through the finish area straight to Mass General Hospital to donate blood. Race officials shut down the finish line immediately, preventing further injuries. Emergency personnel, law enforcement, marathon volunteers, and even off-duty army soldiers responded within seconds, running toward the blasts, ushering people to safety or getting them medical attention. Along the marathon course, spectators rushed into their houses to get blankets, water, and food for the thousands of marathoners stopped short of the city. Hundreds of Bostonians offered up their cell phones, cars, spare rooms, and even their living room couches to displaced runners and their families when hotels went on lockdown.

It’s impossible to count or name all of the heroes that lit their lanterns yesterday, and that’s what makes the aftermath of this atrocity bearable.

Ride on, Reveres.

You can follow my sister’s running blog at http://liannerunslikeagirl.wordpress.com and on twitter @runlikeagirl85 . She’s guest-blogged here once before about, of all things, kale.

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2 Comments

Filed under Our Dutch Adventure, Running and Race Reviews

2 responses to “Just Let Me Run

  1. Thanks, Meg! I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “Just let me run,” on Monday! And pictures always work the same way- you see them, usually it’s sudden, so you wave and yell, remember the camera, and then you get a picture of their back… or the street 🙂

  2. This was such a good post! Putting the bombings aside, and looking at the race – 3:31 is an insanely good time in ANY weather at Boston! After running it, I am even more in awe. And just a little bit scared Lianne will overtake me in a marathon some day 🙂

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