"No one in. No one out. Boston is shut," blared the bullhorns. Yellow police tape forbade my progress.
It was two years ago today when I and 30,000 others ran the Boston Marathon. It was my 43rd consecutive annual marathon, but this one was unlike any prior marathon anywhere, ever. It was a perfect day. I felt great. I was even contemplating sprinting the last straightaway to the finish yet 5 miles ahead. My sprint is everyone else's slow motion, but I felt like celebrating this glorious day by pushing at the end
But then the unthinkable. Police cars herded several hundred of us slow runners into the Newton City Hall, most of the way up Heartbreak Hill, at 21 miles. It was chaos. Incarcerated at a marathon! WILD! Hundreds of befuddled, sweaty runners hadn't the slightest idea what was going on. Neither did any of the cell phones yield evidence. The police were in the dark. All that we knew was that "Boston was shut."
After several hours of turmoil the word "bomb" was heard, but no details. Terrorist? My wife, several hours behind me, has a sister who lives just several miles off the route. We got a call to her, and shortly she picked us up to take her to her place where television was still scanty in any reporting. We showered, had a beer and a pizza. We slept restlessly. We had a cab pick us up at 2 a.m. which furtively got us to our hotel, which was very near the bomb site. It was nearly 4 a.m. Psychedelic! Machine guns, armored cars, searchlights, silent. It was surreal in the extreme. No substantial information had come out. By the time that this was going on the first fiendish perpetrator had already been killed. The other was eventually discovered hiding in a boat on a driveway on Mount Auburn Street in Watertown only a few doors from Ruth Anne's childhood home.
All of this was unknown at the time. All we wanted was to get out of Boston ASAP. Ruth Anne caught her 8 a.m. flight back to SFO. I jumped a train to New York. Hundreds of concerned emails flooded in. Our children were assured by understanding that our slow pace meant that we were not there for the explosions, still five miles to the rear. The full story was still several days in the future.
That was exactly two years ago from this moment, one of the most indelible experiences of our lives. The organizers generously acknowledged that many of us slow runners were prohibited from finishing our 26 miles. They sent us a finisher's medal, which I proudly survey as I sit here at my desk, and celebrate that Boston "being shut" was only a blip on history's ledger.
The lesson emerges that sometimes the turtle wins.
Exactly two years ago.