I had intended to write a blog entry on the flight back to Indy summarizing this entire trip, if only for my own memory. The last three days have been so impactful and potentially life changing that I want to record at least a few thoughts before my mind is even more muddled by the 26.2 mile emotional journey that I'll talk alongside 36,000 other runners.
The trip started on Friday with a 9 a.m. flight connection from Indy to Charlotte before flying into Boston. After a late night of packing, finishing the week and preparing for the trip I was in need of some rest so the first flight passed with the blink of an eye. Landing in Charlotte brought back memories of my time training there with friends Jeff Guadette, Meagan Nedlo and others. The flight into Boston became meaningful when, while boarding, I walked past the superintendent of our school district while I was in high school, Steve Waterman and his wife Carole. They are great people who I've stayed in touch over the years with while visiting home and seeing them at church. They were on their way to Boston to cheer for their son who is also running and had already asked my mom for my bib number so they could be sure to cheer for me too. Moments later, after I found my seat, the flight attendant requested a round of applause for all of the runners and their families headed to Boston this weekend. The ovation was overwhelming and the gravity of the weekend immediately sunk in. I suddenly had a much better understanding for the collective emotion attached to this weekend's marathon; before I could control my emotions big heavy tears poured down my cheeks.
After arriving in Boston and passing by the souvenir shops filled with Boston Marathon gear, I retrieved my bag from baggage claim but I wasn't able to catch up with the Watermans. On the shuttle to the T-stop a serviceman, with bags indicating that he was returning home from a long tour of duty, found a seat nearby. In thinking of where he was headed and where he'd been, I also thought of the little boy who'd sat in front of me on the flight. Something about watching the boy, roughly 8 years old, and then meeting the dedicated service man brought me to tears again on the bus. Whew! At this point, it became all too clear that this weekend was going to be cathartic for everybody and I was off to a head start.
After arriving in Boston and checking into the hotel I went for a short run around Boston Common and toward the finish. On my way back, I met a fantastic runner who happens to be planning on the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in the fall. We had a great chat but before we exchanged many more details than our first names I heard my name being called from across Tremont Street. It was long time friend and former training partner (summer, 2002), Kevin Beatty. It was absolutely great to see him and catch up with Kevin, even if only for a few minutes on Friday afternoon.
After a quick shower, I was off to the Team MR8 celebration reception. It was an amazing experience - Meb, Amby Burfoot (Runner's World editor and 1968 Boston Marathon Champion) and Dave McGillivray (Boston Marathon Race Director) all spoke. Meanwhile Doug Flutie and Joe Andruzzi celebrated the successes of their foundation's fundraising efforts. I met amazing members of Team MR8, Sarah Broderick and Vicky Shen and swapped stories of our connection to the Team. The night was inspirational to say the least. Local artists, Rhett Price and Dropkick Murphy's rocked the Harvard Club and the crowd, especially when Dropkick pounded out the unofficial song of the Red Socks - "I'm Shipping Up To Boston". Despite all the celebrities and poignant V.I.P. speeches the undebatable highlight of the night was getting to watch 8 year old Jane Richard set the example of how life goes on after tragedy. Her energy, passion and dancing were admired by all in attendance.
As amazing, emotional and inspirational as Friday was, Saturday was an equal growth experience for me. I slept in to catch a little sleep, which means I missed the B.A.A. 5k but I was sure to catch the survivor tribute run/walk. Watching Henry Richard near the front of the pack with a huge smile covering his face was as heartwarming a moment as anyone could ask. I was touched to be able to personally cheer for both Bill and Denise Richard before being impressed by other survivors who included amputees and many faces who have become familiar from race day photos and subsequent media appearances. The time watching these runners and walkers who were impacted by last year's events was as moving an experience as I've ever had as a participant, coach or spectator of a running event.
After a lunch with the Runners Connect group, including long time friends Jeff Gaudette and Brian Schmidt, it was off to the expo with Brian and his parents, including his dad who I admire greatly and know from my days as an undergraduate at SMS, Dr. Bruno Schmidt. The 2014 Boston Marathon expo can best be described as the running version of Black Friday, without the violence. After a walk back past the finish line, through Boston Common and back to the hotel, it was off to dinner with Jim Estes and friends before meeting long time good friend Travis McCathie for a night cap.
Without even mentioning my group run this morning, my stop at the Chicago Area Runners Association breakfast and a luncheon with Active.com today, I realize exactly why I'm so tired. I've done a lot in just three days! This note has basically turned into an inventory of all the great people that I have been able to spend time with this weekend so I'm going to cut it short. However, the more I type the more I realize how amazing this event is because it brings together so many outstanding people from all over the world. The city of Boston embraces it and every where you turn you see runners and their supporters. Without overstating the obvious, 2014 has taken on a whole new meaning for everyone that's here. The goodwill in the city and the common sense of togetherness is palpable and heartwarming. Tomorrow promises to be a special day, no matter how fast I'm able to run after the long weekend...