Monday, April 22, 2013

"What Is My Barrier?", Thoughts From a Boston Marathon Runner

Brian, a friend of ours, ran in the Boston Marathon last week.  Brian ran to raise money for the Boston Medical Center Cancer Support Group in honor of his dear friend Jamie who passed away last October.  He has very generously agreed to let me share his story from last Monday with you.  It is powerfully encouraging, challenging and something that everyone should hear...

First and foremost, I want to thank ALL of you for your texts, calls, emails, and posts checking on how my wife and I are doing after the tragic events in Boston.  They have been a source of comfort in a difficult time.

I am not sure where to begin with all of this, but to say that we are very thankful that we are safe. Sometimes it rings a bit hollow to me knowing that there were many, who either lost their lives, or were severely injured.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who were there and their families.

I have written and re-written this several times and have decided to leave out a lot of the details about what I saw, felt, etc.   In hindsight, things are fortunately okay; but at the time, without the details we now know, there were some tough moments.

The race, in and of itself, was awesome!  The crowds were great and I felt pretty good the whole way.  In fact, I felt like I could have run 30 miles. expected, the Newton Hills pretty much hurt. Very cool to see Liz True, Scott Bishop and Margo Saulnier on the course! 

I had no idea that anything was so terribly wrong until my wife caught me at Mile 25.  She told me that two bombs went off at the finish line. It was surreal and I felt as if I was watching myself in a movie.  This couldn’t really be happening could it?  The fear in my wife’s face immediately confirmed the reality of the situation.  But I still had no grasp of how big the devastation was.

Everyone’s experience through all of this was different.  Even though I was still a few miles out when the explosions happened, that doesn’t mean that as I got close,that I didn’t see the emotional toll on peoples’ faces, the ambulances, bomb squads in full gear, etc. 

At this point, I feel it’s important to focus on the good I saw throughout this ordeal and not dwell on personal details.

What I saw, was a city (in the midst of tragedy) open their hearts to each other, care for another, and give to another – no pre-conditions, no race, no political affiliations, no barriers.

As we were re-routed about another mile, people came out of their homes and provided us with water, food, places to stay.  Since it was about 47 degrees out,hypothermia was a real issue for all of us as our bodies lost heat.  A young woman came out with a big roll of kitchen garbage bags and was handing them to runners to wear for warmth. 

She apologized to me that it might not fit well, and I smiled at her and thanked her…it didn’t matter. I asked her to text my wife and let her know “I was ok, and to head to the hotel.”  She did without hesitation.  She ran ahead and continued to help people with a smile on her face. I never knew her name.

As we got to the “Gear Buses” a few blocks east of the finish line, those blessed volunteers were still there, handing us mylar blankets.  I don’t know how many people would stay to do that job amongst a terror incident.  Most people would want to “get the heck out of there and get to their families.” They defined the phrase “service before self.” Amazing.

It took me another two and a half hours to get to my hotel as it had been evacuated then eventually “locked-down” – no one in or out.

Thank you to the Boston PD officer who personally escorted my wife to the hotel so she and I could be reunited.  We hugged and didn’t let go for a long time.

Thank you to all of the Boston PD, FBI, and Mass.National Guard, who in a very tense situation, still kept us safe and doing so with compassion.

Thank you to the Marriott Hotel Copley who served all of the guests a complimentary dinner when no one could leave.

Thank you to all of the citizens of Boston who opened your hearts and homes to those suffering.

Thank you to those who helped inform my family that we were ok and offering your homes to us.

Thank you to all of my friends for your thoughts, prayers,and caring.

Thank you to my wife, Beth, for being you.

And thank you God for reminding me that life is precious and to live it for You, now…not tomorrow, or possibly next week when I am not so busy.

Final Thought:
Why is it that we as people, wait for tragedy to bring out the goodness that we’re all capable of? Ask yourself, “What is my barrier?” “Why is it a barrier?”
Knock it down and get busy.  You’d be amazed at what a difference you can make in peoples’ lives.
I am forever a changed man.

Brian, thank you so much for your message of hope and encouragement.  You have challenged Pete and I to examine our own personal "barriers" and to getting busy knocking them down.

Also, congratulations friend!  You ran a marathon!  You rock, Brian!!!



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