21. April 2013 · Comments Off on FUT: Fear, Uncertainty, & Twitter · Categories: Boston

This week was a tough one. Following friends and co-workers as they ran the Boston Marathon is a part of every Patriot’s Day for me. I love watching the splits, aching for some of them as the split times decrease in the latter 5Ks, silently cheering as they cross the finish. With the splits shown real-time for every 5K through the end, you have to think about what they are going through as the miles tick by.

On Monday, the 5K splits took on a different meaning. Many of my friends had crossed the finish line in their normal, fast paced fashion. Former co-worker Mike from Richmond clocked in at just under 2:58; current co-worker Cheryl was a tad over 3:54. Just 16 minutes after Cheryl crossed the finish line, the city of Boston, hundreds of families, and my running community was turned upside down.

As I watched fellow runner Chris Russell during the race, he was slowing down particularly after the half. After the half, his mile pace went from sub-ten minute miles to 12:17, 13:44, 13:27, and at 40K, to 15:33. The final time that gets shown for all runners is after they cross the finish line. It was a few minutes after Chris passed the 40K that a co-worker came rushing back to his desk and told me that there were what appeared to be bombs that had exploded at the finish line. Unbelievable horror.

I anxiously checked Chris’ split since he was the last person I knew still on the course, and saw that his finish time was never recorded. If my calculation is right, he was less than a mile and a half from the finish at the 40K split, before disappearing from my visible radar. I cannot believe how his family felt not knowing where he was, if he was okay.

My running feed on twitter lit up. Everyone wanted to know that their friends and family were okay. Twitter seemed to be the best, real time source of news about individuals and about what was going on. I pretty much stopped working while I started following what was going on. There were many people that I follow on twitter checking in with simple tweets. I’m ok was probably the most tweeted phrase of the day, but it was enough. That simple message was all it took to have a family breath a sigh of relief. I’m guessing that it was an hour or more until word came through that someone had heard from Chris’ family had found him in the chaos and he was okay. Chris’ first tweet after he stopped said it all.

“I’m ok. Fucking horror show.”

Here’s a link to Chris’ Run Run Live podcast where he first interviews Dave McGillivray, Race Director for the 2013 Boston Marathon. This interview was done a week or so before the Marathon, before any of the madness started.

Starting just about 25 minutes into the podcast, Chris tells the story of his 2013 Boston Marathon. It’s great insight of what Chris experienced, and I’m thankful that he shared this incredibly difficult story. Please listen – it is well worth an hour of your time: CLICK HERE

Friday brought a Wear Boston Day at work. There was a sea of Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins shirts everywhere you looked. Everyone was supporting Boston, even though the murderers were still at large. Cheryl wore her bright yellow 2013 Boston Marathon technical shirt with pride. I can’t imagine just how many strangers came up to her and asked about the Marathon, and how difficult that must have been for her to answer. She had finished with a very respectable time, but wasn’t celebrating.

Finally, in the latest, special unnumbered The Extra Mile Podcast episode, one caller talks about how the support of our family and friends is so important. It really came home with how many of those friends and family were injured waiting for their runners at the finish in Boston. I’m certain that the events that unfolded on Monday and throughout the week will make everyone think twice about attending a race, and that it will be very difficult to stand at the finish line waiting for your athlete to cross that line without thinking about that fateful Monday. Hopefully, they will remember that this was two sick individuals, and that the greater goodness of the people of this great country of ours came together to stop it and start to heal.