Three years ago I sprinted down Boylston Street and crossed the finish line of the 2010 Boston Marathon. It was the single-most thrilling experience of my life at that point and remains one of my most treasured highlights. My mom was on the sidelines along with the massive crowd, cheering like it was the Super Bowl. The noise was unbelievable, and I won't ever forget how much I wanted to cry, laugh, faint and dance all at the same time.
Today, the marathon was attacked. People died, were wounded, lost limbs, experienced trauma and simply suffered. And all I can do is sit in shock.
This is more than just a race. For the runners, it is the culmination of months of training and lifelong dreams. People work years, even decades, to qualify for Boston. Men and women who had imagined this day for years were finally realizing their goals. They'd run multiple marathons, iced muscles and trained through rain, ice, snow and heat. They'd committed themselves to a monstrous goal and sacrificed time, money and who knows what else to get to that point. It was supposed to be one of the best days of their lives.
It brings back so many memories for me, more than just the finish line. I remember the flight there and thinking, "What have I gotten myself into? I can't do this!" I remember the expo where I found a new 25,000-member family of runners who were sharing advice, encouragement and well-wishes. I had my mom with me for one of the most special mom-daughter experiences of our lives. I remember waking up on marathon morning and thinking that the race time would NEVER get there. I remember thinking that Heartbreak Hill wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and then feeling the "thigh smash" as I descended on tired legs. I remember thinking with three miles left that the crowd couldn't possibly get bigger and then being proven wrong. I remember finally finding my mom after the race and hugging her so tightly and crying. I remember the look in her eyes of pride and joy. It was unbelievable.
But it's not just about the runners. It's about their families. It's about history. It's about an entire subculture of endurance athletes who band together for one day a year to take the worldwide spotlight. It's about hopes. It's about dreams. It's about overcoming.
Training for Boston took more out of me than I was prepared to give, but it was worth it. I trained through thunderstorms, ice, wind and pain, and I know that so many others did the same. Through it all, I developed an intimacy with God that I hadn't found before as I allowed Him to speak to me in those miles and push myself beyond anywhere I'd gone before. I rode on His strength, and I opened my life up completely to His leading. There will never be a season like that one again, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I don't know how to deal with today. I wasn't even there. I didn't know many people who were running. All I know is that ever since 2010, my heart has been in Boston on Marathon Monday. It was there today and right now it's breaking, especially for the runners whose dreams or bodies were shattered. I don't know the purpose of this day in each of their lives, but I know that God has a plan to redeem what sin and evil tried to steal.