NPR

8 runners take on the 2014 Boston Marathon

Thank You!

This isn’t a regular post, just a few words to say thank you to everyone who has been following our NPR Tumblr blog! I have not missed a single comment and would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of you who have responded with supportive and encouraging words. I have taken them all to heart!

— Jannine Myers

One Year Later …

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4.15.13 — Kristy and me before the race started

Last year on this day Kristy and I showed up early to join the Boston community in celebrating one of its most prized days. The third Monday in April is a sacred tradition. This was Kristy and me just after receiving our jackets, a block or so up from the finish line.

The devastating events that would unfold later that day have been a daily part of my life. While I did not have physical injuries, mentally I have struggled with what happened all year. This last week I have been very anxious with the anniversary approaching.

I woke up this morning to a gray humid day and all I wanted was sunshine. So I put on a bright green dress under my BAA volunteer jacket, hoping to will the weather to change. Kristy and I once again met on Boylston. This time we headed to the Hynes Convention Center for The Tribute.

A room of 2,000+ people gathered to remember those that we have lost, honor those who were injured and say thank you to all of those that have come together in support. And although I have been anxious and dreaded the arrival of this day for months … even with tears in my eyes I felt comfort surrounded by this community and a great sense of relief knowing that we have survived through tho year together.

The overall theme was that of resilience, strength, courage and pride in our city of Boston. The courage of those first responders who ran toward the bombs, the courage of the survivors during their healing and rehab, the courage of our police officers who helped protect our city and finally the courage of a city to move forward.

We heard touching music from the Pops with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Children’s Chorus. We also had the exceptional opportunity to hear words of inspiration from survivors and government leaders. Mayor Menino has been an inspiration and leader in this community for years, especially so during this tragedy. I attended the church service just after the bombing last year and, although I don’t remember much of the service, what I remember is Mayor Menino being wheeled up to the pulpit and grabbing with both hands to pull himself up on his own two feet. This display of resolve, strength and determination has stayed with me all year. Today he walked to the stage with his famous baseball bat cane and had the same power on the people in the room. In his speech he made a solemn promise that the injured will never be forgotten and will forever be supported and cared for. 

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After The Tribute, in the rain and wind, we all walked together as one toward the finish line. As Deval Patrick told us during The Tribute, none of us are strangers anymore, we are all now one. At this point I realized it was just right that it should be raining on this day. We joined together in prayer and a moment of silence.

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And so, one year later, after joining together with 2,000 people to both remember and show our love for each other and those we lost, we are healing. We are moving forward. And we are so wicked excited for the 118th Boston Marathon, less than a week away! We will run again and finish the race!!!

— Amelia Nelson

imageMy Zone One Warriors 1 year later …

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My co-workers from BIDMC.

This weekend was packed full. Saturday morning I went with my mom and some friends from work to the Sports Illustrated cover shoot at the marathon finish line. The sun was out and I had some of my absolute favorite people around. The group in the picture above are some of my incredible co-workers from Beth Israel. I also had the opportunity to finally meet fellow #npr8 blogger Dawn Harper. Copley was packed with spirited, incredible Boston people. What an exceptional display of the Boston Community!!

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My incredible mom … who was a volunteer last year too!

I went directly from Copley to Logan Airport to fly to Virginia. My roommate and I went to see our dear friend Linmarie. This year she has had a terrible battle of her own with cancer. Only a few weeks ago we thought that — in her normal fashion — she had kicked cancer’s ass. Unfortunately that is no longer true.

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Linmarie is someone who will make you laugh until you are crying and your stomach hurts. She is a spirited, stubborn, powerful, loving woman who has taught me an incredible amount about how to be a strong female. She was the friend in college who cut my hair so it had some semblance of a style, plucked all of our eyebrows, helped me dress fashionably and desperately tried to teach my how to apply make-up; a skill I still can’t master. She has been a friend, a mentor, teammate and so much more.

This is our team reunited after many years in support of our teammate. It is her unwavering strength that pushes and motivates me further. This is for Linma, my incredible friend! Thank you for all of your spirit and inspiration … I love you!

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— Amelia Nelson

DawnyMonster, One Year Ago - 4.15.13

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Yep, that’s my nickname. An ex-boyfriend coined it and, well, both have stuck.

The nickname was a spin-off of my Twitter and Instagram names: Dawnytime. Dawnytime was used for, well, I guess, the everyday perky version of myself. And, well, as you can imagine, the other — DawnyMonster — was the not-so-best version of myself. I laugh as I type this because I now know when I become “DawnyMonster.”

But, as cute as the nickname may be, it has also been a huge part of my personal growth over the last 6 months. I have learned to let go, to let go of all things that I cannot control, and to dump all of those thoughts/emotions into my own personal mental “trash bin.” So, now, I try to be less of DawnyMonster and more of Dawnytime.

As you can probably imagine, being a runner and, more importantly, daring to run 26.2 miles, I have a pretty Type-A personality which also tees up with my choice of occupation. Almost four years ago, I migrated from the Dirty Dirty South to pursue a legal practice in Boston. Yep, born in D.C. but grew up in Louisiana.

Last week, I did an interview with my local TV station in Louisiana and the reporter asked: “Do you still identify with Louisiana?” I smiled and replied: “Of course I do. in fact, it is a great conversation starter with New Englanders because they automatically assume that I should have an accent.” But, you see, I have learned that, for me, my childhood allowed me to grow up in an environment where we were all children going to school and playing outside. It truly allowed me to grow up in an innocent, carefree environment. I would not trade that experience in for a second.

Since in Boston, life has not been 100 percent glamorous by any means.  I’ve had a severe case of the rude awakenings into “adult life.” I’ve been knocked down a few times.

But, as a friend recently told me: “You always find something positive to cling onto even when things are really shitty.” Today, I think all my friends would agree, that no matter what, I get my ass back up, and I do it again, and I’ll do it better than before. Over the past 6 months, I have become a more compassionate, caring and vulnerable person. “The world needs more people like you” is the email I received from someone reading my marathon fundraising page. Unfortunately, even as recently as a year ago, my friends would probably not describe me as that person, but as a brat instead.

Without a doubt in my mind, the last year and, more importantly, the last 6 months have forever changed my heart, body and soul in the best way possible.

I know I am still here, still here with my family and friends, and I will live life as fully as possible because it could have been very different one year ago today. I have been thinking that crossing the finish line this year will represent a new beginning for me, so to speak. A chance to cross and release those painful 4.15.2013 moments, a chance to release those growing pains, those failures, all of those things that have happened that I want to leave behind (but, not forget).

Despite all the painful memories of that day, I know that without those moments, I would not be here today, on this anniversary day with a chance to live, a chance to lead a more compassionate life with a stronger heart.

#bostonstrong #weruntogether “United, we will always preserve.”

— Dawn Castillo Harper 

A Shout-Out To My Husband

My husband rarely takes time off; he’s one of those workers who takes his job seriously and invests a lot of time and energy into making sure that things are being done as they are supposed to be done and that no loose ends are left hanging. In his line of work — infantry operations in the Marine Corps — loose ends can’t be afforded. I admire my husband’s dedication and accept that his sense of loyalty often limits our time with him. But I also know that, when it comes down to it, his family always comes first.

Last year, when my husband learned of the Boston Marathon bombings, he was relieved that I had opted earlier to run the Napa Valley marathon instead. When I informed him that I wanted to go to the Boston Marathon in 2014, his natural protective tendency had him insisting that he would have to go with me. Keep in mind that I have traveled alone to other overseas races without him feeling concerned.

Erik (my husband) isn’t naive by the way; he doesn’t believe that he is capable of keeping me out of harm’s way. But he is also not the kind of guy who will stand back and leave things to chance. As long as I have been married to him he has always done his best to to serve, protect and offer assistance.

In fact, through the help of our host Suzanne (who I mentioned in a previous post), Erik will be out there helping other runners, too.

Next Monday, you’ll find my husband waiting for me at the finish line later in the afternoon. But before that you’ll see him volunteering in the Red Cross DOC (Disaster Operations Center).

My husband always tells me how proud he is of me. But today I am shouting out how proud I am of him!

— Jannine Myers

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My husband made sure to pack his Red Cross shirt. In Okinawa he volunteers for the Red Cross on weekends, teaching First Aid and CPR classes.

Let Us Bind Together In Love, Not Hate

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Last week I had the incredible opportunity to go to “Dear Boston” a memorial to the Boston Marathon bombings. After the bombings last year there was a memorial that formed in Copley square. People left thousands of tokens of prayers, gratitude, love and remembrance. These items were removed and reassembled in this display.

It was extremely emotional. I happened to arrive with a group of high school students from out of state that didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation at first. The exhibit was bright and engaging. The displays encouraged you to get closer and read the individual, inspiring notes. This poster above caught my eye and stuck with me throughout the day.  The quote came from Richard Martin’s school poster.

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There were running sneakers, posters, banners, hats and ribbons with touching words and then a chance to add to the exhibit. In the back left corner there were four trees. All four were just budding, with daffodils blooming around their trunks. From these trees hung hundreds of small white tags with messages of hope, love and strength. Now, if you haven’t started crying by this point I will be shocked.

It was here that I found the majority of the high school students silent and focused on writing meaningful messages to leave behind. This was exceptionally touching. At the Boston Public Library they have created a truly exceptional display of the hope, love, strength and resilience this city embodies. It was also a display of the love and support that exists in the running community and in cities all over the world. Let us take this as an opportunity to bind together in love and not hate.

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— Amelia Nelson

One year later: I took this same picture last year. These were the shirts I bought at the expo. Last year … they were excited, jumping up and down cheering for me. This morning they both went and took these shirts out and asked if it would be OK to wear them.
Instead of cheering for me they are asking permission: “If anyone tries to ‘do’ anything this year, mom, can we punch them in the face?” They are asking so many questions.
It’s going to be a very emotional week on all fronts. We are ready. We are Boston Strong! Natalie is anxious about her brother not being with her this year. Camden refuses to go. She told him this morning: “I just want you to be with me.”
— Amanda Burgess

One year later: I took this same picture last year. These were the shirts I bought at the expo. Last year … they were excited, jumping up and down cheering for me. This morning they both went and took these shirts out and asked if it would be OK to wear them.

Instead of cheering for me they are asking permission: “If anyone tries to ‘do’ anything this year, mom, can we punch them in the face?” They are asking so many questions.

It’s going to be a very emotional week on all fronts. We are ready. We are Boston Strong! Natalie is anxious about her brother not being with her this year. Camden refuses to go. She told him this morning: “I just want you to be with me.”

— Amanda Burgess

Why I’m Running Boston

A year ago today, I watched friends and competitors from my apartment at the 23-mile mark on the course, competing to their fullest potential in one of the most prestigious races in the world.

A  year ago today, I saw individuals and a city hurt and in shock and my friends and competitors performances go unappreciated after a horrific act of terror.

A year ago today, I decided to join those friends and competitors in training relentlessly for this year’s race, representing my team and city, going unafraid.

— Eric Ashe

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This Year’s Boston Marathon A Bitter Sweet Achievement

Yesterday, after arriving at the airport, I tried to feel happy and excited. But it was hard. My younger daughter — Jade — had cried several times already and I felt guilty. It is, after all, because of my own selfish pursuits that I am leaving for a period of time to go and run a marathon that could potentially be the target of another terrorist attack. Jade was anxious about me leaving, but she was more worried about where I was going.

Seeing fear in the eyes of your own child is a terrible thing, and even more so when you know that you’re the one responsible for creating that fear. Even my older daughter Chantal, who calmly played it off as if she were not anxious at all, sent me the following text right before we boarded our first flight:

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I’ve spoken to both girls since we left and they’re doing fine, but I know I will think of them often while I’m in Boston (and worry, just a little). 

Boston-bound is where I am headed. And while I’m thrilled to be one of the many thousands of runners participating in this year’s marathon, I never anticipated the cost of getting there including such an emotional separation from my girls.

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— Jannine Myers