17 Apr

My marathon

Almost.

There were any number of times that I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the Boston Marathon (my first). Monday was not one of those days.

It was a perfect day to run. I remember marveling several times during the day just how lovely it felt to be outside. To be running. To be a part of all this for the first time.

I was running for 4,000 kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester. I was also running for myself — to prove to myself that I could train that long and that hard, that I could run that long and that hard, that I could raise the money the Boys and Girls Clubs so desperately need. To prove it all was possible.

But I was running injured. Five weeks ago I was sidelined, for the second time, by shin splints, and had already faced down the very real possibility that my legs literally would not hold me for 26.2 miles. I didn’t know that I could finish, but I sure as hell was going to start.

And I did. Once I knew my legs would hold, I also knew I would — could — finish. And I felt so grateful. I was grateful to be running. Grateful to be so miraculously pain-free. Grateful to be with so many people running for others. I remember tearing up in the starting corral looking at the messages and names written and sewn on to the backs of so many runners in front of me. Names in marker, on ribbons, taped on — people carrying their inspiration with them, literally, on their backs.

We were only stopped for a few minutes, before the crowd of runners surged forward. One step, two steps, legs holding, moving forward. The crowd dropped down and to the right, and then there I was, crossing the start. I was slow — very slow — still testing my shins, still finding the gait and foot strike that would keep my shins from barking. And just like that, there was the Mile 1 marker, and with it my husband and running partner. He was meeting me there to join me for the rest of the race, entering the course as a “bandit” and sticking with me stride-for-stride. I remember clapping my hands together in excitement when I saw him. Excited to have made it a mile in what felt like no time, excited that our plan to meet worked, excited that he hadn’t been stopped. Excited to know that, whatever the race brought, we’d face it together.

And so we ran. Slow and steady, each of us tending to injuries that half a year of training had wrought. For him, a tender calf, knee, and back. For me, my shins and left heel. But no matter how fast, 90 steps a minute, a beat kept relentlessly by the music in our ears. Everlasting Light. Bad Moon Rising. 16 Military Wives.

We had such fun on the course. We’d start dancing to the music we were listening to, calling out lyrics so that the other would know what we were hearing. Singing the songs Tom had obligated himself to sing as part of fundraising. High-fiving all the kids who had their hands outstretched, hoping runners would brush their hands as we ran by.

I remember being too far away from one little boy to get his hand, as I passed by I heard him say aloud, “Anyone?” And so I stopped, turned around and ran back, gave him a high-five, and thanked him for being there.

I remember seeing the signs as we moved from Hopkinton to Ashland. Then Framingham. Natick. I remember crossing the rubber bumps at the 10K mark that I knew would finally send an alert to those tracking us that we’d made it that far. I also knew that was the sign that Tom and I could open up our run a bit, as we’d successfully managed the first 6 miles conservatively, which meant we’d have a lot left in the tank when we needed it on the hills of Wellesley and Newton.

Mile 10: Look left, my coworker Brian said. Red house. And there he was, grilling in his front yard. Bear hug at the ready.

And on we ran. Time flew, it really did. We hit the half-marathon mark feeling strong, and relatively pain-free. We knew we were running slow — easily 2 minutes a mile off our uninjured pace. But we also felt like we had a ton of energy left. Plenty to make it the rest of the way. It was easy. It hurt like hell, but it was easy. “Run easy, run easy,” rang the mantra in my head.

We were slow enough that the water stops began to be staffed with fewer and fewer people. Volunteers that had been handing out cups were now using rakes and snow shovels to clear the streets. We were at the back of the race, but still running. Still doing it.

Mile 15: our coach, mentor, and guiding light, Rick Muhr, reminding us that once we hit the Newton firehouse, we were in single digits the rest of the way. Mile 15.5: my parents and cousin, waiting with teary eyes and pain-relief spray
Mile 17: the firehouse. Single digits left to go. Just past, kids from the Boys and Girls clubs cheering on “their” runners.
Mile 18: home turf, the route Tom and I had run week after week with the Marathon Coalition. The mid-century modern house on the left. Country club on the right. Hills we’d run over and over again to remove their sting, their power. We crossed the rubber bumpers at the 30K mark. One more alert out to our trackers.

At 2:55 pm. Five minutes after the bombs went off.

The motorcycle cops started driving the course around then. I remember thinking it was odd, because there was no warning, they were just suddenly on the course, but it was my first marathon, we were clearly the tail end of runners, and I figured it was part of them getting ready to reopen the streets. Though, even then, I was thinking that we weren’t that far behind, and that they didn’t close the course until six hours after the last official runner started. We’d be on the line, but we’d make it, I thought.

We were almost at Heartbreak. We hurt, but we had plenty of energy. Just crest the hill, and it would all, literally, be down hill from there. Down into Cleveland Circle, past the supermarket, Washington Square, Coolidge Corner to see Chel (and Case, FaceTimed in from Maryland) and Trish, Brookline Holiday Inn on the left (three miles to go from there), Audobon Circle, the windy bridge over the Pike, past the Hotel Buckminster and the shadow of the Citgo sign, one mile left, past the Braemore, under the Storrow underpass, jog to the left to go under Mass. Ave., then in a series of turns I’d run dozens of times by now, Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. Hynes Convention Center. Apple Store. Mandarin Oriental. Lord & Taylor. The Lenox. Marathon Sports. FINISH.

Get to the top of this hill, I knew, and we were home free.

But somewhere between Mile 19 and 20, Tom cut in front of me, saying, “We have to stop, we have to stop. Something’s going on.” Tom said he’d looked up and suddenly there weren’t any runners in front of us. That was wrong. We’d had runners in front of us all day. He took out his earphones and kept hearing “bomb bomb bomb bomb” all around him, as word spread from fans and volunteers to us on the course.

We were both running with our phones with us, and on, in case we weren’t able to meet up at Mile 1. Phones out, phones on…and all the messages asking if we were okay. Race officials telling us to get out of the road and onto the carriage path where’d we’d trained for weeks. The carriage road was for training. The road road was for racing. Something was definitely wrong.

We walked and ran to the corner of Comm. Ave. and Centre Street, Mile 20, the base of Heartbreak. Two friends there to meet us. But I’ll remember their faces forever. That’s when it was first real. Almost. “Have you heard?” they said. “Yes.” The father of my sons was the first call through, his voice like I’ve never heard it. Fear. Relief. “I’m okay. We’re okay. We’re six miles out.”

It’s amazing how much we knew, and how quickly. We knew there were bombs. We heard car bombs at first. But we knew they were at the finish. We knew they were in front of Marathon Sports, where we’d been Saturday picking up last-minute gear for the run. Where I’d bought every pair of shoes I’d worn in training. The place with its windows blown out now. Destruction out front. There were a million thoughts in my head at once:

Were my boys there to surprise me at the finish? No? Thank god.
Where were my parents, who were supposed to be eating lunch at L’Espalier, almost directly across the street from where the second bomb went off? Lunch cancelled because we were so off-pace.

The information was jumbled, too. At first volunteers told us to keep running, that they’d reroute us to a different finish. But fewer than five minutes later, we were stopped for the final time, “We Are Young” on my iPod. They diverted us to the next aid station, and told us they were stopping the race. It was bad on Boylston.

“I don’t understand.” I kept saying. I must have said that a hundred times. “Why would they do that? Why would they bomb the marathon? Who would do that? I don’t understand.”

And the worst part: just about the only people crossing the finish line four hours in are the charity runners, and the older qualifiers. The people in my corral at the start of the race. People I saw, and started with. Tsugumi, a colleague of my ex-husband’s, running for Children’s Hospital, hoping to qualify for her next Boston. Pam, the 52-year-old qualifier who sat next to me on the bus to Hopkinton, who didn’t want to know about the course, as not knowing made the miles fly quicker.

Tsugumi crossed 10 minutes before the bombs, missing her qualifying time by under a minute. I don’t know what happened to Pam.

So we stopped at the aid station. We took the mylar blankets we would have gotten at the finish line, but six miles too early. I sat on the curb and cried.

I remember the flow of cars that started steadily coming down the carriage road. People fleeing the city in a steady, gruesome stream, passing just past my toes.

Not moving was driving me crazy. We were caught halfway up Heartbreak Hill, my GPS watch stopped — now, for good — at 20.45 miles. I wanted to walk home, but knew it was best to stay off the road. We headed back down the hill, back down to Devon and Sam who had met us at Centre Street, hoping they could get us home, or at least take us in if the city were locked down. But we were turned away again because of suspicious package in the intersection.

More reports: More devices found. Stay away from trash cans. Marathon cancelled. City locked down. Cell service off to prevent more detonations.

We turned off Comm. Ave., and started to walk parallel to it, trying to get back to Devon and Sam. A white van pulled up — a medical van for the Marathon — picking up the dispersed runners, getting us warm, handing us water, Gatorade, Stella d’Oro Breakfast Treats cookies. Chips.

Manna.

After a stop to consolidate the refugees, we got on a schoolbus that took us to the Newton War Memorial, which we’d passed earlier on our run. We checked in as we entered. Name. Address. Telephone number. They gave us more water. Answered what questions they could. Someone passed around oatmeal raisin cookies. We called my cousin who had seen us at Glen Road, who came to pick us up and drive us home. We signed out like we signed in. Name. Bib number.

We found my parents at their hotel, just a half block from our apartment. We ran into a finisher in the elevator, medal around her neck, cleaned up and dressed for an evening of celebration.

“Did you finish?” She asked us.
“No.”
“I’m so sorry.”

We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, still in our running clothes. Still in shock. Still not processing what had happened, but operating as if we had. Eating a meal that should have been a celebration, but felt more like a wake. Wine and martinis as recovery drinks. Hamburger. Shrimp with risotto. Home. Bed. Sleep.

We went to pick up my abandoned bag the next morning. Testing our abused bodies slowly. Shins okay. Back stiff. Hips on fire. But alive. Moving. Grateful.

We walked in the sun in the chilly air, even walking the long way around the Four Seasons to St. James Street to feel the warmth. I remember passing other runners with their reclaimed yellow bags in their arms, across their backs. A different kind of solidarity than in the days before. We were the ones that didn’t finish — couldn’t finish. Our bags left on lonely buses beyond the Finish Line that was now a crime scene.

As I walked up, I saw the volunteers hand someone their bag…and a finisher’s medal. And I started to cry again. The volunteer put it around the runner’s neck. “Congratulations.”

I got my bag, and our medal. I saw a photographer trying to get a shot. I turned away, and put the medal in my pocket.

I didn’t finish. We didn’t finish. The medal feels like it’s not really mine. I didn’t do what I pledged to do for 4,000 kids. I said I would do a thing and I haven’t done it.

The rational part of my brain tells me it’s like a rain-shortened baseball game. The winner is still the winner, even if they only played six innings. I can tell myself that this marathon, like those games, wasn’t based on distance, it was based on time. The time was up, and we ran as far as we could in the time we had. And I guess that’s what I’m left with: we all, every one of us, can only run as far and as well as we can in the time we have. Every step is precious. Every minute is. Every breath.

But I’m still struggling with the fact that none of this is over. We don’t know what happened. Or why. That marathon isn’t over. My marathon isn’t over. The reason I ran — those 4,000 kids — is still there. They need us, me, more than ever. They need to believe in possibility. And I haven’t shown it to them yet.

For those hurt and maimed at the finish line, and those who loved them, their marathon is only beginning. And it must be so, so hard to see possibility in any of this.

But I do. I will.

I. Will. Run.

I will run those last six miles, and I will run the whole damn thing again. Because that’s what I said I’d do. I said I’d show the power of possibility. And this is what’s possible:

It’s possible to never run at all two years ago and then run the Boston Freakin’ Marathon.
It’s possible to get hurt. Twice. So bad you had to stop running entirely. Twice. And still run the Boston Marathon.
It’s possible to raise more money than you every thought you could.
It’s possible to run when you don’t think your legs will hold you up.
It’s possible to run without a number.
It’s possible to get halfway up Heartbreak Hill and know – know – that you can finish.
It’s possible to be told you have to stop and know – know — that you will still finish it. Someday.
It’s possible to have your beloved city brought to its knees…and get right back up, swinging.
It’s possible to be lifted up by those around you, to let them be your strength for a little while.
It’s possible to be 39 years old and still so glad to see your Mom and Dad after the end of a really, really hard day, and to feel solace like no other in their tears and hugs.
It’s possible to be strong for your sons who don’t know you didn’t finish, and are just glad to find your name on a poster, and who love you anyway, because you’re Mama, and you’re home.
It’s possible to find yourself part of a community of runners, when you didn’t think you were one.
It’s possible to be part of a community of friends, most of whom you haven’t met, who will follow you on your crazy quest, and worry about you when it’s cut short.
It’s possible to feel gratitude even in the darkest times.
It’s possible to train for 26 weeks. To run over 570 miles. To be just six miles short of the end. And know you’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Because it’s possible.

That’s my marathon. And I’m still running it. We all are.

  • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

    I type this with a face full of tears. I didn’t want to start this since I knew how it finished and I know how hard you have worked.

    You and Tom were the first people I thought of when these horrible events began to unfold. I was so glad to find out you were safe.

    I’ll be there next year cheering you on and to see you finish!!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • http://stevegarfield.com Steve Garfield

      Thanks for sharing this.

      “…we all, every one of us, can only run as far and as well as we can in the time we have. Every step is precious. Every minute is. Every breath.”

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, C.C. You — all of our friends — were with us every step. We were so moved by everyone’s support before the marathon, and so touched by everyone’s concern once we had to stop.

      And damn right, we’ll finish. That’s what this is all about. :)

    • http://twitter.com/RhiannonSL Joyce Bettencourt

      I have tears after reading this too.

      Thank you Tamsen for being so vulnerable and powerful and sharing this with us.

      Much love & hugs to you & Tom!

  • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

    Beautiful. Real. Powerful. I’m talking about the writing, about you, about your commitment, about the family ties you expressed here. Beautiful. Real. Powerful.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Chris. It was a story I had to tell.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    This is why I so agree with the many, like our mutual friend Chel, who say that the people who perpetrated this crime have already lost. Whatever statement they hoped to make has been drowned out and shouted down by legitimate heroes like you, people who put the welfare and fortunes of others (4,000 kids) ahead of your own.

    I salute you!

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, sir. That’s what makes the marathon so special. We run for everyone.

  • http://www.gradontripp.com gradontripp

    Tamsen, you and Tom are an inspiration, and are part of the reason I committed over the weekend to running a 5K in June. The events of the last two days have only strengthened that resolve. I’m sure I’m not the only one that you’ve affected by your months of training, your sacrifice, and your dedication.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      It’s been an amazing, hard, beautiful, horrible, trying, and strengthening experience. I know I’m better for it, and so glad that you’ve found some inspiration in it all, too.

  • sethlipkin

    You earned your medal. If you need convenient pre-race lodgings in Hopkinton in any future year, just let me know.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Seth. Everyone on the course was so wonderful and supportive. That was my first trip to Hopkinton. It certainly won’t be my last.

  • http://twitter.com/jcqly Jacqueline Carly

    Dang it, here comes the waterworks! :) So beautiful, Tamsen. It is indeed all possible.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Chris and I are so grateful that you and Tom were out of harms way. We’ll be there to cheer you on next year. Or maybe even out there running with you. Sending infinite love, light, and hugs. xoxox

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      I would love to see you on the course! Let’s do it! “Ladies and gentlemen…”

  • http://chelpixie.com/ Chel Wolverton

    All I can think to say is that I love you. I love your mind, your grace, your strength, your conviction and your courage. I am proud of you, Tamsen. That medal is yours because you made the effort and the time and worked through the pain to keep at it and do what you promised. You didn’t fail at that promise, someone tried to take it away from you.

    But they didn’t know you. And they didn’t know this city.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      No, they didn’t. And they didn’t know runners. I’m proud to be part of that community now.

      And thank you for your unwavering love and support. It means so much.

  • Deb Ng

    Like @cc_chapman:disqus I’m typing this through tears. I don’t know what to say Tamsen except you’re my hero.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Deb. These have been hard days, to be sure, but I know there’s good here. And I know we’ll all find it together.

  • Jody Ballard

    As others have said, your story was beautifully written and moving, but let us help you now getting those funds for the Boston Boys & Girls Club. Please setup a donation account with a reputable bank that will accept both US and international donations. These evil terrorist bastards will NOT win.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Jody. The fundraising page for the marathon is still live, if you’re interested (it’s reputable, I assure you): http://bit.ly/BOSTAM

  • Ron Ploof

    Thanks for writing this, Tamsen. I really needed it. I’ve been dangling emotionally for the past few days. I’ve needed to talk with someone who truly understands the emotional ties between local residents and the events of Patriots Day. It’s not that my Southern California colleagues don’t feel the impact of the event. They truly care and are outraged by the attack on our country. But at the same time, they just don’t have the ability to connect with the subject on the emotional level that I needed to tackle my oscillation between sadness and rage.

    The ability to read the words of someone I know, recounting her day from the perspective of a local, is exactly what I’ve needed for the past two days. I’m feeling much more grounded. I thank you for that.

    Virtual bear hug from California. Be prepared to collect a real one next time I come home. :)

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      I will be DELIGHTED to collect that hug, Ron. And I’m glad that I could help, in some small way. That’s all I ever wanted to do with this run.

  • http://www.davedelaney.me/ Dave Delaney

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your experiences. I am still in shock about yesterday. It’s hard to believe it is real. Your post helps to make it real and to remind us that we are stronger than them – 100 times stronger.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Dave. It’s still surreal to me, too. But writing about it helped immeasurably. Thank you for reading.

  • Jen Wojcik

    Tears. Beautifully written, Tamsen.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Jen. I’ve had more than my share.

  • http://www.jasonkonopinski.com/ Jason Konopinski

    Aaaaaaaaaand tears.

    Thank you for sharing this and for the support and guidance that you’ve offered me.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank YOU, Jason.

  • http://twitter.com/andreacook andreacook

    Made me laugh. Made me cry. You have earned that medal.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story with us Tamsen. You are inspiring to me.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Andrea. I’m still uncomfortable with all of this — very. But writing helped, and I’m glad it resonated with you, too.

      • http://twitter.com/andreacook andreacook

        I’m glad you are processing it how ever you can! Grief is never fun, or comfortable. Thank you for being a genuine gal. I hope you are refreshed with healing words in the days to come.

  • Emily

    I realize that maybe the actual Marathon you want to complete is the Boston Marathon. But, The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 27th is allowing all Boston Marathon Runners who did not finish to run without the charge. maybe being the one who doesnt know the course will soothe you as you run.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      I love that idea. There are runners trying to organize a “last mile” event this weekend. I hope to take my two boys along on the run from Kenmore to Boylston.

  • http://www.RoninMarketeer.com John Wall

    That’s what gets you hooked on this race, you’re not even over the soreness and you can already see the Unicorn, a year away, on the horizon, giving you a wink and telling you to come along.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      We were running with the unicorn the whole way. We’ll be faster next year, I know. And prouder with every step.

  • jeffespo

    Tamsen,thanks for sharing this. I’ve been following along Team Webster’s quest for this goal and was thinking about you once I heard the bad news. I will support you next year as well and you are a winner in my book!! :)

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Jeff. We are so touched that you supported us TWICE. That means an extraordinary amount.

  • http://twitter.com/vanillabean45 Karen Nicole Costa

    You are someone I have admired for so long. Moreso now than ever. Your strength, love, compassion, wit, beauty and brilliance are so inspiring. Rewinding to my time in Boston, I wish there was more of you in it. Thank you for surprising me at sushi last year when I was in town the weekend before your wedding. Thank you for finding Tom and proving that love gets second chances. Thank you for being generous enough to dedicate your precious time to training. Thank you for raising money for kids in need. Thank you, most of all, for being okay. I look forward to cheering you on next year.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      I can’t wait to hear you, Karen, whether virtually or in person. Thank you.

      I always thought of you when I was training past Coolidge Corner and passed your building…and Party Favors. :)

      Sadly, mid-run is not the best time for a cupcake.

  • Whitney Hoffman

    I first found out about what happened by seeing a message from you that you were safe. I had the map in a browser window, tracking in the background, knowing how much you had trained and gone through, and I was so relieved you and Tom were safe, but also knew how frustrating and confusing it all must be at the same time. Thanks for sharing, and know how much we all love you and are proud of everything you’ve done and accomplished.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Whitney, for understanding so completely. Frustrating and confusing are exactly it.

      I remember talking to you about the unexpected c-section I had with my first son — after preparing (training!) for months for a natural birth, he was breech and never turned, so I had the most UNnatural birth imaginable. This feels much the same, in a strange way. The ending was chosen without me, but I’m still a part of it, and grateful for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kathleenvbuckley Kathleen Buckley

    And I will be there at the starting line to cheer you on when you run it next year. And I’ll hold out my hand for runners to slap in that thrilling solidarity we feel as spectators. And I’ll join some friends as a bandit further along the course and dance to our favorite songs feeling grateful and joyfully as you and your husband did.

    What a beautiful piece! What an inspiration!

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Kathleen! Can’t wait to see you on the course next year. :)

  • http://www.jodiontheweb.com/ jodiontheweb

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Tamsen. And thank you for still running.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      It’s a party of me now. I feel like I *have* to run.

  • http://jameskoole.com James Koole

    Please do go back and run again. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      You can count on it. And thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/CRMJen Jen Phillips

    There isn’t a word or phrase I can use to describe my feelings on what happened on Monday in Boston. Your post captures the heart of it. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank YOU, Jen. We’re all a part of it.

  • http://waldowsocial.com DJ Waldow

    I just went on a short run. Then I read this post when I got back. Wow, Tamsen. So beautifully written.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thanks for running, DJ. For yourself, for Boston. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more a part of something than I do now — the community of runners. And I never thought I was one.

  • http://twitter.com/shannonbphoto Shannon Baker

    Thank you for sharing this! I came across this post on a friends twitter and I found it profoundly inspiring. We are all still running in the marathon of life and things can happen on any given day to end it. Getting the strength to live with courage instead of fear after such a tragedy can seem impossible. Your post gives us all hope. :)

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Shannon. I hope it does.

  • http://alexinhighdef.blogspot.com/ Alex Hubbard

    I, like you, was stopped short on Monday. I was cresting Heartbreak when someone answered their phone and screamed about an explosion. It was just before 3pm. I was on track to finish before 4pm, my marathon goal. I just kept going, because I, like you, made a pledge to run 26.2 miles for my friend Dena, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. I told her I would do this. I told Dana-Farber I would. And so I did until just shy of the 25th mile marker, where I was unceremoniously stopped by barricades. I stood just before the Citgo sign and, like you, sat down on the curb and cried.

    You wrote many words that I haven’t been able to yet. When they put that medal around my neck on Tuesday morning, I felt like a fraud. I immediately took it off and held it and I haven’t put it back on since. We will get our marathon. We will do it. Because we are runners. And running is what we do. And we made promises. So we will come through on our promises.

    Thank you, for writing the words I can’t. For articulating everything I’ve been feeling these past two days. For understanding what it is to be one of the ones who didn’t finish. Not because we couldn’t. Because I have faith that you and I, we both would have crossed that finish line. But because cowards took it away from us. We will get our marathon. I hope I get to meet you at next year’s marathon.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      You’re welcome, Alex. I’m so sorry you didn’t get to finish the race you planned — but each of us finished the race we had in front of us. I take solace in that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Rafdarrow Raffi Darrow

    thank you.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you. I’m grateful for every reader on this post.

  • http://twitter.com/MarketingProfs Ann Handley

    Beautiful, raw, and awesome. The whole thing… But this? love. “And I guess that’s what I’m left with: we all, every one of us, can only run as far and as well as we can in the time we have. Every step is precious. Every minute is. Every breath.”

    I’ve been struggling to make sense of Monday. This helped. Thank you for writing it.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Writing it helped me enormously. I’m glad it’s helped you, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mindy.artze Mindy Artze

    This is beautiful! I will share it on my facebook page. Thank you for sharing and telling it from the heart! xxoo to you and your family. I am so glad to hear you are okay and safe!

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you so much, Mindy.

  • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

    What a moving story, Tamsen. Thank you so much for sharing it and for for choosing to see the possibility and goodness during such a dark time.

    As someone who wasn’t a “runner” until a few years ago either, I can relate to so much of your journey. It’s funny how you think running a marathon is absolutely crazy. But once you decide to do it, you pour your heart into training and fundraising. And, somewhere along the way, you realize that through it all, it IS possible. There’s something about this process that changes you. And, then once you step out on that course, the spirit of community – both from runners and everyone who supports them along the way – is truly remarkable.

    I’m proud of you and Tom. And, I’m glad you’re eager to get out there and do it again. I as I wrote in my blog post earlier this week, there’s nothing better we can do than to keep on running.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, Laura. I’m eager to get back out there and run. And run and run.

  • JoAnna French

    Brava, my friend.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Thank you, JoAnna. You are a very, very big reason I even thought I could to this. I’m deeply grateful for that, and for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/margaret.carter.357 Margaret Carter

    Tamsen, Your mum and dad are dear friends of mine..and I’m a runner. Never qualified for Boston…but was so glad to hear you were safe. If you want to break human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target, I heard it said. I am a runner. many marathons under my belt.You embody that spirit…. Run on, comrade!!

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      They speak of you often, Margaret! Thank you for your kind words.

  • http://twitter.com/megtripp Meg Fowler Tripp

    I bought running shoes yesterday. I haven’t owned any since 2009, despite my early days with spider legs and lungs that never gave up. You’ve shown me what it looks like to step out with grace and passion and determination. I’ll run in those footsteps, proudly. Love you.

    • http://personalcartography.com/ Tamsen Webster (@tamadear)

      Love *you*, Meg.

  • http://www.paigeworthy.com paigeworthy

    Oh this is just gorgeous. It sat open in my browser for more than a day while I waited to have the stillness of mind to read it, and I’m so glad I did. You will finish, even though this marathon will never be over, in a sense. I applaud your strength and the honesty in your pain.

  • http://twitter.com/bobledrew Bob LeDrew

    Tamsen, you were one of three runners I was tracking, and I was thankful that you were slow enough to not be caught up in what happened Monday. I’m sorry for your marathon interruptus, and sorrier for those who were hurt and killed. And Im glad that you used your talents as a communicator to share this story with us.

    Mayb this song will reinforce and support your spirit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT-aEcPgkuA I look forward to watching your times go all the way to the finish line and beyond soon.

  • http://twitter.com/mcurcuru Marissa Curcuru

    You are an inspiration Tamsen! Thank you for sharing.

  • Pingback: Internet Famous, Andrew Luck and Humanity Restored x2