I wasn’t going to write this post.
I debated over whether or not to write it. But two days post-tragedy, as life begins to get back to normal, I, like many others working at that finish line, have a story.
I woke up at 3AM Monday morning to get ready for a full day of coverage for Boston.com, beginning at the starting line in Hopkington and ending the day at the finish line on Boylston Street. I bundled up for a chilly morning, completing my outfit with my official 2013 Boston Marathon Adidas jacket that was 2 sizes too big. But I didn’t care. I was too excited.
I left my house at 4am, coffee in hand, and made my way to Brighton to meet up with my coworker, Steve Silva, a Boston.com sports producer. You may have seen him in the media for capturing this video. Surreal, I know. (He’s fine, thank goodness!)
We got to Hopkington around 6AM, checking out the scene and getting ready for live shots for the website at 7, 8 and 9. I even met the young man from my hometown who was going to walk the whole marathon on stilts to raise money for Shriners Hospital. The weather was warming up and it was becoming the perfect day for the Boston Marathon.
Steve and I went back to Brighton around 10AM to pick up his car. Originally, I had planned on driving with him, but decided to take my own at the last minute. After getting into the city, we found the media center and had lunch before heading out to the course. Steve had different credentials than me so he went in through the gate to stand just behind the finish line and capture video. I made my way to the media seating in the grandstand to cover the end of the elite women’s race.
Here’s the video I took of Rita Jeptoo winning the Boston Marathon for the women. Keep an eye on the flags she passes on the left as she finishes her race. They will look familiar.
I also got this shot of Shalane Flanagan, who placed fourth for women.
I wanted to get post-race interviews with Shalane and Kara Goucher, who finished a few minutes after her, so I left the grandstand area and went back behind the finish line.
I even got to meet running royalty, Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan is a previous winner of the Boston Marathon and the winner of the first ever Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984.
Just after 2pm, I saw a familiar face in the sea of race finishers, my friend and director of DanceWorks Boston, Lisa! She was obviously exhausted and mentioned cramping during the race, but pulled off her second Boston Marathon in just over 3:33, her Boston PR. We got her to the medical tent so she could rest. The next time I would talk to her was when we connected to make sure we were both okay.
The remaining hour flew by in a whirlwind. Around 2:40, I decided to go back into the grandstand to shoot a few more photos of the finishers coming it just after the 4-hour mark. But just as I got up to the sidewalk, I decided against the grandstand, turned left back towards the media center and decided to get my car, go home and relax after a successful day of live blogging instead.
I have no idea why I made that decision. But thank God I did.
About ten minutes later, I was two levels down in the parking garage under the media center when I heard a loud boom. I didn’t think much of it, thinking it might’ve been a celebration cannon going off at the Sox game at Fenway down the street. I’m surprised they even let me leave the garage, as they were beginning to lock down everything in that area. As police cruisers rushed past me with their sirens blaring, my phone began to buzz with phone calls and text messages asking if I was okay. Thankfully I called my mom and dad first because they hadn’t heard anything about the explosions and would’ve panicked if they had heard the news before hearing from me.
I kept it together until I got home and saw the news. The fact that I was right there, that I almost went back up into the grandstand, that my coworker was still there, that my day could’ve unfolded much differenly… was all a little more than I could handle. I got all of my crying out over the next few hours, talked to my family, Sean, and my friends and made sure everyone knew I was safe.
Now two days later, I feel okay. I’m sure many people who were in the area or could’ve been there who left early are feeling the same way. But then again, even if you weren’t there, we are all hurt by the same vicious acts that tried to destroy a city that we’ve always felt so safe in. But the words people have written about how strong Boston is, the images, the strength will carry the city through. I hope they find whoever did this as soon as possible.
Either way, Boston will pull together. Because that’s the type of people Bostonians are.