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Member's Musings

Thoughts on Boston – Chip Bearden

That night, Josie texted me to say she’d gone to the Boston College library thinking homework might distract her. Tina called not long after and wanted to talk about seeing the video of the explosions with her Loyola running team at the end of that afternoon’s workout. One of her teammates had gone up to cheer for her father and met him at the finish line. They were in the section where the bombs detonated but escaped injury.
My twin daughters appreciate Boston more than most teenagers. They watched me struggle for nine years to qualify. When I finally did so the first time when they were 12, they had an appropriately decorated cake waiting for me when I got home. Earning that first BQ was one of the high points of my life. As I ran Boston proudly in the Nor’easter in 2007, they were waiting in the rain for me to finish. In 2009 they ran the BAA 5K the day before and got to cross the official marathon finish line themselves, then met me there the following day at mile 26.2. When I dragged myself through it the last time in 2011, struggling with Lyme disease, part of the deal I struck with them to run only 3 days after a cardiac catheterization was that I would text Tina every mile to say I was OK. It was she, typing furtively on her phone under the desk in school, who kept me going long after I would likely have given up in the final miles. The hugs I received when I got home that night exhausted but unharmed were intense.
Tina said the reason Monday affected her so profoundly was because she’s been to enough marathons–including escorting me part of the way with Josie several times–to experience the euphoria of hearing everyone cheering for you–spectators, perfect strangers, friends, family, fellow runners–in a sea of support and…safety. The explosions that ripped through the crowd in Boston shattered that.
Josie had been looking forward to cheering at BC since the day she arrived last fall. In fact, after running her first half marathon at Philly last November, she flirted briefly with the idea of training with the BC group to run Boston with them. When the race was stopped on Monday, the college instructed the students to return to their dorms. That’s where I finally located her via text to make sure she hadn’t gone to the finish line to spectate.
Certain moments in history are so searing in our collective memories that we can share our personal “where were you when you heard the news?” accounts. My first remains the day John Kennedy was assassinated. Others include the first moon landing, Team USA defeating the Soviet Union in hockey at Lake Placid, Reagan being shot, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, Princess Diana’s fatal accident, and, of course, 9/11. My girls were too young to really comprehend that last event. I suspect they will, however, always remember Monday, 15 Apr 2013, as will I.
Chip Bearden

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