Looking at Boston through a Crystal Ball

I have close to 100 friends (both internet wide and not) that ran Boston yesterday.  This Monday is always different in a runners heart.  Watching dreams happen, goals achieved, hard work and mental toughness tested.  For the morning I did just that, I watched and listened (ask my coworkers) as the majority of my friends ran PR’s, achieved their dreams and ran their hearts out.  Even if you are a non-runner or don’t follow running closely, chances are you have heard of the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon is the Gold Standard of distance running…one does not simply by fluke get there.   Many people have tried to qualify for years, spent countless years, time, patience and ran other marathons…simply in hopes of running the Boston Marathon.

Imagine the gold standard race as a prestigious college, for ease we’ll say Harvard.  You are a high school student who has dreamed of going to Harvard your entire life.  You work hard at school, you maintain a near perfect GPA, spending countless hours studying and missing countless high school social events because of tests the next day.  That isn’t good enough though and all while doing that you maintain a job and are in a couple of extracurricular clubs.  You have a few friends, but most of them are your study partners and classmates with the same motives as yourself.  You gave up prom because the SAT was the next morning and you wanted to get a full nights rest.

But come your senior year, you did it.  Your hard work payed off.  Four years of intense studying, missing social events and working has payed off.  You have been accepted to Harvard.  (in our case four years and you have qualified for the Boston).

You spend the summer preparing, laying out your schedule of how you’ll make time but still have fun in college.  You have a perfect schedule layed out, enjoy the summer off from schooling but come September you dive right into the next phase of your life.

College (or in our case the actual training portion for Boston).  College is rough, you are plagued with a hard first semester…you nearly give up and wonder if I can’t pass an entry level college course, how will I pass sophomore, junior and senior year?  It’s a mental battle and you periodically question yourself. You continue to maintain your grades though now you are with other students who are competitive with you.  As you train, you see that you will not be at the top of this race and you could graduate closer to the middle or the bottom.  But.  You will still graduate and cross that finish line.

Four years again go by and you are sitting at graduation.  About half your class is with you…the other half didn’t make it this far.  Injuries, poor GPA, mental struggle…it was not for them.

You are sitting alphabetical order at graduation and listening to the valedictorian, salutation, guest of honor and speeches.  Waiting for your time to walk the line, receive your diploma and officially graduate.  You’ve made it this far.  Nothing can stop you.

Finally they say it.  We will now start announcing the candidates to graduate.

And the race you have now trained 8 years for is off.  You have begun a 26.2 mile journey that will test you physically, mentally and emotionally.  Your eight years of training leads up to this.

Boston Marathon

Your last name starts with “M” so you listen as others are announced.  The valedictorian is announced first and you see him receive his diploma and sit back down.  All while you sit with anticipation.

Finally they are on graduating “I”s, now “J”s…K…L…It’s your turn now.  You stand up and are walking towards the stage.  You see the finish line and are smiling bigger than 1000 suns.  It seems like you have been here for hours waiting…It’s all caught on video and your parents, friends and family are watching.  You are finishing one of America’s most prestigious road races and your parents, friends, family could not be anymore proud.

NBC still image taken from video shows an explosion at the Boston Marathon

You walk on stage and that is when it happens.  Out of nowhere and without warning.  An explosion.  An explosion rocking our entire community.  Your community.  Your friends.  Your family.  Our crystal ball world.

Explosion at the 117th Boston Marathon, Boston, America - 15 Apr

In the coming minutes, the area is surrounded.  Who would have done this?  Why? How?  Graduation has been cancelled and without warning, those who didn’t graduate don’t.  They don’t get a second shot to graduate…even though (as yourself) spent the last 8 years preparing for this graduation…they don’t get the honor they deserve.


Those are the people that were stopped at mile 21, the ones that worked every bit as hard but never stepped on stage.

Then those who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Alphabetical order and your last name started with an L?  You were walking off stage when the explosion occurred.

Your friends and family stationed near the stage.


Your friends and family who could not attend the graduation, wondering if you were okay but have no way of reaching or knowing for an hour or two…

My point is this, as a running community, a community in general, what happened yesterday is no short of a tragedy.  An event so powerful to us, hit so hard.  We have risen together.  Though running brings us closer, this event has also brought us even closer.  We have come together.   Those training for a marathon, those training for a 5k..those training to lose weight.  We stand strong together as runners and non…we are a community.   Nothing will break us down and while this was a powerful reminder, Boston 2013, along with every single other Boston will never be forgotten.


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  1. Well said, I have no words as to why this tragic event happened. All we can do is be thankful for ourselves and pray for others!

  2. An absolute tragedy. Whether you’re a runner or not, this is a terrible terrible thing to happen. To cause so much damage and saddness anywhere is crazy, but at a marathon when a lot of people are raising money for charities and having fun with family and friends spectating…this is just so wrong.

  3. Well goodness Hollie well said to say the least and a great analogy. That was something that occurred to me in time as this went on yesterday and I heard more and more about it… something like this happening at an event that is full of pure joy, accomplishment, charity, hard word … and an awful thing like this then occurs. Just wow, how awful, tragic. What else is there to say? Thank you for this

  4. This is a fantastic post. I love the association. I was at mile 16 cheering on my friends and coworkers who were luckily not physically hurt in yesterday’s chaos. It’s sure to be an emotional week here in Boston, but we will overcome! Going out for a run today for the victims of yesterday’s tragedy.

  5. I very much wish that you prefaced this post by warning me to have some Kleenex handy. Holy misty eyes over here. Beautifully written post, Hollie. Even though I’m not a runner, what happened in Boston hit me hard, so I can only imagine how much worse it must be for runners and those affected more directly. My heart is in Boston today…

  6. You never cease to amaze me, I’m lucky you have you as my friend. I have been tearing up constantly since yesterday afternoon, and I will continue to do so. Thank you for being such a great person, you remind me that there are still amazing people out there.

  7. <3 Great way to describe it to those who aren't runners. Not only was I sad, but I was mad. I'm mad now. It makes me sick.

  8. Great post. I’m only a “beginner” runner, but I’m human. That’s what this is about: humanity, lost lives, achieving goals, hard work, and a cowardly attack on all of that. Of course the loss of life and the many life-threatening injuries are tragic, but I find mysrlf mostly thinking of the racers, many who might’ve run this race for the first time, who didn’t get to finish. Everybody understands hard work, perseverance, and even disappointment. My thoughts and love go to both Boston & the running community. It is encouraging, though, to see the positive, helpful response from so many.

  9. I think this post really highlights how it hits home to all, those that know what is like to be at a marathon, to run one and to watch one. A marathon is an intimidating feat and to put more fear into it seems so wrong. Thank you for sharing this Hollie.

  10. This put me in tears, such a tragedy put so eloquently into words!
    I think everyone in some way was impacted by this, we had quite a few aussies running over there and a lot friends from our squad, thankfully all ok, but still doesn’t make it any better, it’s still so hard to believe… 🙁

  11. i randomly pop over to read your blog from time to time. usually, i skim through, am in awe of the amount/pace you run, glace at your cute smiling face, and move on. today though, i wanted to say THANK YOU for this very well written post that i think everyone (marathon runners, hobby joggers [me], cross fitters, swimmers, video gamers …) can relate to and understand. this event touched us all.

  12. I love this post. I have to say, before the incident yesterday – being at the marathon and seeing all those runners was AMAZING. I was volunteering at a hydration station and it was such a great experience to see everyone from the elites to handicapped athletes to barefoot runners to a man on stilts to charity groups to everyone else who worked so hard to be there. I cheered for everyone I could and just wished that I could stop and get to know all of them – I know how much people put into that race and I wanted to know all of their stories. It was such a happy exciting day, and it’s just tragic that it was ruined by this. It is so sad that such a joyful event came to a terrifying and chaotic end. I live about a mile and a half from Copley and on our way back home every ambulance and cop car in the city was screaming down the streets – not having seen the news yet we only knew what we’d heard by word-of-mouth at the time (we’d been at mile 14). It was really crazy.

  13. I still can’t believe it….. How sad that such an amazing day for runners, families, and friends has to be become such a horrific day. I think of the races I have done here in st louis, and although not that big, I would never think that something would happen. My heart goes out to everyone who was there

  14. Hollie this posit is absolutely wonderful and truly beautiful. It is a great analogy to show how it’s not just the running community. I have not yet wrapped my head around it myself yet and then there had to be a gunmen at a college real close to my hometown today. Child cares, college, places of employment all on lockdown. Such an ugly world.

  15. I don’t know what to say other than this is extremely well-written and your analogy is very apt indeed. It would be appropriate, I feel, if runners who didn’t get the chance to finish the race this year were given a free pass for next year’s race. I think most UK spring marathons are going to suggest black ribbons and/or armbands as a show of respect for Boston, and so they should.


  16. Beautiful post, Hollie! My hometown is hosting a marathon next Sunday with around 15.000 runners, and even though it feels surreal, I will make sure to cheer for them. They deserve it, and we will not take our happy place away from us by the evil.

  17. Wonderfully put, and I love the analogy. You’re right – graduating from a high-standard college, running the Boston Marathon…the work people put in to get there is grueling, and when the day comes it’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life….and this tragedy ruined it. Doesn’t matter whether you are a runner or not – we’re all humans, all of our lives and hopes and dreams matter…and it’s a tragedy when any of them are struck down. But because we all understand that general theme, we all come together and stand strong….the one good thing about such tragedies is they truly bring out the best and the brightest in us.

  18. Great analogy. Definitely makes people who are perhaps not familiar with running and the running community able to identify with what happened and how devastating it really is for all involved.

  19. Hollie, I have tears from this. You have expressed a tragedy that has no words perfectly. I cannot understand why these horrible events continue to occur in our world today. Why children and adults do not get to finish in this world. Thank you for sharing this, I know this was not easy to write

  20. Well said. You compared it well with school and graduation.. That is how exactly it is. I was in Boston for the weekend marathon events. I left on sunday and got spared by the bombing. If we have chosen to stay, we would have been right there. My prayers to those affected. #prayforboston,

  21. I love this post so much, Hollie. Today is the first day I’ve started reading blogs again since Monday; I needed to process my own thoughts about Boston before reading others. I love how you compare Boston to Harvard and graduating. In my opinion, that’s something the media hasn’t focused enough on and most non-runners don’t realize how much dedication went into training, qualifying, getting the acceptance e-mail – the race was supposed to be the icing on the cake, the easy part. My heart absolutely breaks when I think about the runners that DNF.

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