Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Sore Throat - A Full Heart - A City That IS Boston Stronger

The 2014 Boston Marathon is in the books. The one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings is behind us. Today orange Marathon jackets, smiles and medals abound along with that tell tale post marathon walk. The City is calm and there is a sense of exhaustion, relief, joy and a quiet celebration that we made it through and will continue to make it through moving through healing.

The 5 year anniversary of our 2009 Boston Marathon run was on Sunday and what a celebration we had taking the field at Fenway. We were part of a corps of 50 volunteers representing the 10,000 BAA volunteers who are the epitome of #supportcrew for the Boston Marathon. There was a pre game ceremony to honor the Boston Marathon. There was commemoration and celebration; a look back and a look ahead to the running of the 118th Boston Marathon; moving forward as a community bound together by love on 4/15/13.

The group of runners representing the 36,000 runners, sporting Boston Strong t shirts ran out onto the field ahead of our group of volunteers. The front of the pack of volunteers took off running onto the field. I sprinted in a way I never had before being carried by the energy of the crowd and those surrounding me. Every other survivor or survivor's family had been honored at Fenway Park during the past year except the family of Lingzi Lu, the BU grad student who was killed on 4/15/13 - until Sunday night when they gathered around the mic to say with grace and encouragement to move forward to play our national past time and run the race that belongs to Boston, "Play ball!". I still get goosebumps remembering that moment. Here is a link to the video on MLB.

As we watched the coverage of Marathon Monday on WBZ, as we had last year before heading into the Mandarin, I could feel the shift that began at Fenway Sunday night. Our City was ready to race again!

Team McManus (my husband, my daughter and myself) packed up the car with chairs and provisions for the day and headed to the spot we chose for this year's marathon at the corner of Beacon Street and Dean Road just shy of the 23 mile marker in Washington Square Brookline.

The energy in the crowd was unique to this year's marathon. There was a sense of community and excitement. We screamed when Ernst Van Dyk raced by us far ahead of the 2nd place wheelchair. We were all hoping that this would be the year he captured his ever elusive 10th Boston Marathon win. We watched the news stream on Tom's iPhone and screamed when we found out he won.

The crowd went wild as Grand Marshall Bill Rodgers came down Beacon Street.

And then the story of amazing Meb.....

We saw the entourage that precedes the men's leader and everyone was excited to see who it would be. We anticipated it would be a Kenyan or an Ethopian perhaps possibly Ryan Hall.... We hadn't heard anything in the media about Meb being a possible contender to be the next American to win Boston. As he ran by, Tom spotted the name on his bib and we all screamed!

We followed the race to the finish on Tom's iPhone and we all cried that he had won.

Tom was so moved by his victory that he wanted to share the joy with the runners coming down Beacon Street. He took one of our posters that said GO with a space to write a runner's name on it and wrote MEB WON!

Runners were incredulous asking, "Did he really?" and then fist pumped, smiled, screamed and got their second wind to go the final 3+ miles to the finish line. People around us were asking what Tom had written on the sign to get people all revved up like that and we told them. Several people came over and hugged Tom. When his arms tired, Ruth Anne held it up. She got hugs and fist pumps and smiles.

We were amazed at how many of our runner friends we were able to spot. We screamed at them to get their attention. If there was a runner struggling, we screamed to cheer them along. There was so much inspiration as mobility and visually impaired runners ran by; hand cyclists including Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky who each lost a leg last year and then of course the crowd favorite Team Hoyt. Team Collier Strong, Team MIT Strong, Team MR8 Peace and running for Krystle, Lingzi, Martin, and Sean running shirts brought screams from us and the crowd.

We stayed until 5:00pm when we were fairly confident that everyone we had come to see would be making their way toward the finish line.

This morning, my alarm was set for 6:15am to head to Spaulding Rehab for Aquatics Therapy class. A new day begins. A new chapter begins and I move forward with a sore throat, a full heart in a city that IS Boston Stronger.

They say that the person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes a marathon. Here's a poem I wrote shortly after making the commitment to run the 2009 Boston Marathon in honor of National Poetry Month and all who were a part of yesterday's historical Boston Marathon:

Marathon Metamorphosis - May 7, 2008 from A Celebration of Life
Pounding pavement, feeling strength the journey now begun
training for the race of my life a 26.2 mile run.
Feeling God in every step in every beat of my heart
I undertake this challenge as a new chapter of my life I start.
I ran around in circles carrying baggage by the ton,
destination was survival hardened shell let in no one.
Fear and worry doubts prevailed, adrenaline in my veins
a headless horseman running wild no one to take the reins.
Stopping in my tracks I froze no longer could I move -
clawing, fighting had to cease there was nothing more to prove.
God's grace touched like a magic wand, a softness and a glow
emerging from a troubled past my blood began to flow.
Loving teachers lit the way their love a healing balm -
focusing on who I am now brings a sense of calm.
Stretching every muscle feeling God in every cell
wholeness now a blessing out of prison - no more hell.
The race is still a year away each day my dream I see
mind, body, spirit tuning turning toward the Voice of Thee.
Flexing what had once been stiff to brace against the pain
old habits die and I'm reborn to write a new refrain.
And when the starting gun goes off poised with strength grace
the thunder of the running feet will help me set my pace.
But the starting line's the finish my race already won
achieving the impossible preparing for this run.
The healing power of self love and faith to spark the flame
transformed me from a victim once filled with so much shame.
Unearth my buried treasures my inheritance I find
connected to my Loving God in my heart and mind.
And when I cross the finish line the greatest cheer of all
has been this magnificent journey of answering God's call.

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