This is my real life story.
I’ve never been so excited, so nervous, so overwhelmed as I was to be able to run the Boston Marathon, especially after having my baby just 3 ½ months earlier. I was so proud I could share this experience with my mom, dad, husband, and my beautiful baby boy Brady. I just kept thinking one day Brady will look back at say “Wow, my mom ran the Boston Marathon and I was there!”
The race was everything to me and more. Words cannot even describe the emotions I felt running through each town, with the cheers of the crowd on both sides of the race. Everyone was so happy, screaming and shouting with joy because we were running this remarkable race: High fives, signs, and people handing out water, Gatorade, oranges, and popsicles, just to help us. It was wonderful.
As each mile passed, the more excited and accomplished I felt. I was one step closer to the finish line, and one step closer to seeing my family who were just as excited as I was. I hit mile 25 and knew this is it, I am almost there. I felt the crowds yell even louder, and the excitement among the other athletes grow stronger. I rounded the corner and heard, “YEH STEPH!!”
I glanced to my right and there they were! With all the pain I felt in my legs, I sprinted to my family and gave hugs and kisses, and looked over at my baby boy, peaceful as an angel. They all told me to keep going and we will meet you at the finish line, you can do this! I CAN do this I thought, I only have .2 of a mile left, that’s it, two tenths. What could happen in .2 of a mile?
I could see the finish. I got this. As I started to run, all of the pain I had felt throughout the race was fading away. I felt accomplished, I was going to finish this race, and no one is stopping me. It took me time after time trying to qualify, I had a baby, I trained, I worked hard, and this was my time.
Then, as I drew closer to the finish, I heard a big boom and saw smoke rising over the buildings to the left. I stopped and stared, trying to figure out what was happening. Was it fireworks? Before I could reallize what it was, I heard a big boom behind me, and when I looked, I saw the same thing, smoke rising over the buildings. These were explosions. There was something going on, something not right.
Before I could think, I heard screams and saw people falling to the ground. I was trapped in the middle of two bombs that had just exploded. For a moment, I didn’t move. I thought this is it, I’m going to die. Another bomb is going to go off and I have nowhere to go. How could my son be without his mother? How could the love of my life go on without me? Eight years together just hadn’t been enough! How could my parents just lose their daughter doing what she loves? I snapped out of these negative feelings and thought “run”! You need to find your family now, what if they are harmed?
I started running in the opposite direction from the finish line. The images I saw will haunt me forever. Everyone was screaming and shouting, “Get down, go that way, run this way!” I saw blood covering the streets, I saw people without their limbs, I saw people hurting, I saw scared people screaming, and I saw my life flash before my eyes.
As I sprinted down the street, I saw someone familiar coming towards me. It was my dad. He was screaming and crying and yelling my name as loud as he could. I ran into his arms and he just grabbed me and held me and told me everything was okay. I kept screaming, “Where is my baby? Where is everyone? Is everyone okay? Please tell me they are okay!” He grabbed me with tears coming down his face and said, “Everyone is okay, stay with me, we will be okay.” I held on to my dad and didn’t want to let him go.
The next thing I knew my husband was running towards me to make sure we were okay. He told me we needed to get out of there right away. We ran straight towards our hotel to get inside where we would be safe. I saw my mom protecting my precious, innocent baby. My innocent baby just 3 ½ months old had been part of something so horrible, so awful, so life changing. My baby who instead of one day saying he was able to see his mom run the Boston Marathon, would now say “I was 200 feet away from the bombings at the Boston Marathon.”
How can an experience that is supposed to be so wonderful turn so awful? How can one minute I be so excited, so overjoyed, and then that moment turn into fear for my life and my family’s life? How can someone or something somewhere hurt so many people in such a joyful place? People work so hard to get to this one moment in time and before their eyes their memories will now be a nightmare.
I have to say one thing, I will look at my life differently. I will tell my family I love them every day and I will hold my son tighter at night. I will thank God for every morning I wake up and enjoy every day he gives me. I will pray for hope and love for the victims in this tragedy. I will pray each victim can be emotionally and physically healed. I will pray for the families who have lost loved ones.
The Boston Marathon has changed many lives and has opened my eyes, but I will run the Boston Marathon again. I will run to show my love and support. You may have hurt me, but you have not broken me. You may have scared me, but I will not live in fear.
April 15, 2013
Age – 26
Bib # 12099
40k – 4:12:18
April 21, 2014
Age – 27
Bib # 14649