APRIL 16, 2013
Boston. The name used to give me chills of elation. The knowledge that I had trained hard enough and raced fast enough to run that marathon above all other marathons was like a brush with immortality. It felt like the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup, the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series, the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl, and Dale Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500—all at the same time. It capped the Fatman journey. I had reached the summit of my Everest. Ahab got the whale. Pure Victory.
Now, the thought of that marathon just gives me the chills. Someone destroyed something sacred. Some barbarian(s) desecrated the sanctity of the Boston Marathon. Someone planted 2 bombs down the home stretch on Boylston Street killing (so far) 3 people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard, and maiming more than 100. This is simply appalling.
I remember seeing the sign for Boylston on the course. April 16, 2007, was a nasty, bone-chilling, rainy day; in fact, this was the year the Boston Marathon was nearly canceled. Just the day before, a brutal Nor'easter had hit the city. Yet, to me, it felt like it was 85 degrees and sunny. I came down the left side. The people were still there, despite the sloppy weather. I high-fived my way down the entire stretch. I crossed and, although it was far from my best time, I celebrated the victory of finishing. Reuniting with my wife and 2 of my best friends, Frank Krantz IV, and his wife, Beki Kosydar-Krantz, was a celebratory moment. A festive afternoon and evening with food, drinks, laughter, and fun followed.
Yesterday, runners at the end of the race were likewise trying to reunite with family and friends, wondering who would be there. About 125 were not. Death, lost limbs, and compound tissue and bone injuries inundated the fans. The aerial image of the blood stain in the sidewalk said it all. All Hell had broken loose.
A marathon is a celebration of life. It is a milestone (pun intended) in one’s time on this planet. Marathon competitors, from the elite to the 7-hour runner, breathe rarefied air. When we cross the finish line, we celebrate the air in our lungs. I thank the Lord as soon as I stop running. This time, people called on the Lord for completely different reasons. Boston will never be the same.
The Super Bowl trophy of the non-elite running crowd is the Boston Marathon official jacket. I don’t know of a non-qualifier who wears one. When people see the jacket, they know that you have a story to tell. Mine is about the year of the Nor’easter, and it takes up 3 chapters in my book. Those who ran in 2013 have a story that will never be forgotten in Boston Marathon history.
My heart goes out to every runner, family member, and fan of this race. Their jackets will forever be stained with blood, pain, and suffering. But make no mistake, the running community will rally, and Boston will return stronger than ever. Runners thrive on transforming agony into victory. In the end, good always bests evil in the race of life. Peace.
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is going running.