Blood and Tears Replace Sweat on Boylston Street: Boston Marathon 2013 with Sponsored Athlete Joseph Gray

Posted by: Garden of Life on Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm in a plane making my way out of the city known as Beantown. I had hoped to be blogging about the energy I felt while taking part in the 117th running of one of the most historic marathons in history, but instead this blog will primarily cover my experience of terrorism on the home front.

As I lifted off from Seattle I noticed I was truly at peace. I wasn't nervous, I had no time expectations or goals, really, and I was excited to run one of the greatest marathons on this planet. Coming into the event I knew that I lacked specific marathon training since I had taken a break after winning the 50k Championship and focused on a few different types of races, so my main goal was to compete as best as I could and pass as many as I could as we entered the famous "Newton Hills."

There was a head wind which added to the difficulty of the course, but I think in the end that played to my strengths as the wind almost made flat sections feel like an uphill. I was able to pass a lot of guys in the midst of the Newton Hills and even picked up a few as we crested back down towards Downtown Boston. 2:18:45. I'll take it and I will learn from the race. I realize I need to learn a lot about tapering and even how to specifically train for a marathon as 26.2 miles and 13.1 miles are completely different animals.


The events following my finish were nothing more than the average muscle cramping and being assisted to a massage table. Shortly after the massage I quickly got showered up, did a quick interview and proceeded to meet up with MIO Global to do some photos with the Boston medal in the finish line area.


I received a message that my group was going to be a few minutes late which turned into about 10 minutes late.


After a small chat about one block away from Boylston Street, we were about to head to the finish area and a loud BOOM goes off. Initially my friends thought it was a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington. I was a little skeptical of that as I thought that it was a prank and someone lit a firework or something. In succession another bomb goes off. This one much louder and then it dawned on me, "That was a bomb," I said. Probably not the best things to say as many people nearby were starting to panic. I was almost certain it was a bomb.


The smoke that filled the sky was not from a canon of that I was certain. Outside near the plaza square you could hear all sorts of stories from, "it was a canon shot in remembrance of those that lost their lives in the school shooting," to people saying, "It was an explosion from a gas leak". You could see fear in the eyes of those who were all around. Nobody knew for sure what it was and that made the situation even more distressing. I hoped it was nothing more than a firecracker, but reality set in 45 secs after the second bomb. Ambulances were speeding around and law enforcement fully deployed. I see bus drivers telling everyone to get into the buses, I assume for shelter in case there were more bombs.


The mood completely transformed and now you see people crying and shouting. Nearly every person had a look of anguish in their eyes. The jokes, laughter, and immense energy that once filled Beantown had now gone astray. I immediately received many texts from friends and family. I would imagine 100% of people who were in Boston received some type of message asking if they were ok.


Thank you so much to everyone who got in touch with me. I was not able to get back to everyone as the phone towers were shut off and nearly everyone had issues getting connections for internet and call service.


Things got a little hectic and for the first time I was a little afraid of what was to come. I had a weird feeling that the drama wasn't quite over. I got a few messages confirming it was indeed a bomb and that there were possibly more bombs. As we walked away from where the bombs went off I couldn't help but be a little paranoid as who knows where the next bomb would be. Luckily we made it to a street and just outside everyone was gathered watching the news in a big bunch.


You usually don't get asked by strangers in a genuine manner, "How are you doing?" It's kind of sad when you think about it. It takes something like a bombing to bring people together. This was the first time we saw the bombs go off in a video from someone's phone. As it turned out the first bomb was right before the finish line. The news reported that 12-15 people were found to be injured. I was happy there were no deaths. Also glad that the injured numbers were low considering what I initially thought due to the colossal boom of the bomb. Those feelings quickly became fabrications and Boylston Street, already stained with blood now had 3 dead bodies beside it. The longer we watched the news the higher the injured total grew. 51…54…98…130. You begin to wonder when it will stop. You couldn't help but get a sharp throb of pain in your throat thinking that so many innocent victims were wounded. The youngest victim that lost their life was only 8 years old.


The drama continued as I tried to go back to my hotel which was completely barricaded due to being right near ground zero of the bombing. I was told that I couldn’t pass the barricade and I quickly started to wonder how I would get home without my luggage or identification. I told them I needed my ID at least so I can get through the airport. Thankfully I was escorted to the hotel by an ATF agent. Glad I was able to get a flight out of town as the airport was on lockdown at one point so I wasn't sure I'd make it home today. I was so shocked and upset that I didn’t even open my window to see the city on the way out of town. I was happy to be leaving with my life and health.

I watched the in-flight news. Dozens of victims in the cowardly bombing were receiving surgery for amputations as many people near the blast site were dismembered scarred, burned. Tears filled my eyes as I saw the photos and film of my fellow runners laying there on the ground bleeding in pain. Notice I did not say my fellow Americans even though this was on American soil. Whoever committed this heartless crime destroyed dreams and impaired individuals from all walks of life, from different countries, who spoke different languages. The one guilty of these crimes has no love for human nature or life in general. I don’t know if it was an act of terrorism against America but hopefully they know that their acts of violence harmed more than just Americans, this hurt mankind. I stared at a picture of my family and it must have been the longest I have ever stared at one picture (I have the attention span of a small child being taught phonics in front of a candy store). Difficult to digest the notion that you were close to never seeing that family again.


Thousands of runners may be upset as they were not allowed to cross the finish line, rightfully so. I couldn't imagine having a goal of finishing a marathon or having an intended finish time, and then being told by law enforcement you couldn't pass the barricade to cross the finish line just 100 meters away after running 26 miles. I'm sure many of the runners who were stopped were confused. In fact, the police blocking them were probably just as confused since there was the uncertainty of not knowing if this was a terrorist attack or explosion caused by a gas leak. In the long run I think the runners that were just about to make the final turn will be more than happy to know they may have lost the opportunity to finish a great race, but at least they have their lives. An abrupt and sad ending to such a special day. The attacks at the marathon have stained the soul of the city and sadly I think major sports competitions across the world will also be affected by this chilling event.


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