Monday, April 29, 2013

I Can't Blend In

I’d since discovered that the guy that interviewed me near Copley had been with the New Yorker, and his article had been posted shortly after we spoke. As a result I’d had a reporter from McClatchy Newspapers reach out looking for an interview.  Now for the first time, I did not want the coverage, yet it had found me.  But my New Yorker interview had been a revelation for me.  I did have something to share: positivity.  No talk of atrocities from me.  What I saw and experienced on Marathon Monday was the goodness and heroism of those around me.  Maybe that was why I was there

I ended up flying back early.  I had a flight booked the next evening with AA out of Logan.  The same flight I had taken pretty much every year.  I was back in CT now, and especially considering the circumstances wouldn’t be flying out of Logan that night.  AA had refused to help, insisting that I pay close to $500 to change my flight.  (That flight I was supposed to be on ended up being about five hours late anyway, so I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that on top of everything else.)  So we called JetBlue, who waived as many fees as possible to make the cost of a new last minute flight a bit more palatable.  Now instead of returning home that night, I would get home early afternoon, and in the meantime I’d chat with another reporter from the airport

A friend had posted on Facebook that one of the local run clubs would be doing a silent run in honor of those effected in Boston.  I knew I needed to be there.  It wasn’t my normal Tuesday night run club, but this wasn’t an ordinary Tuesday.  I debated whether I should wear Boston gear, or even bring my finishers medal.  I decided against it.  I wanted to blend in.  I was going to this run for the same reason as every other runner who would be there.  I was going to show my support for those most affected by the previous days tragedies.  This was bigger than me, and it was not my time for any sort of spotlight.  I went without anything Boston on me, the only link being the running shoes that had carried me to Boston the day before, still with bits of red paint on them

I stopped by the Miami Beach Police Department at 6:30.  I wouldn’t be running with the R.A.M. Runners today, but I wanted to stop in and say hello, just to let them all know I was alright.  Next I hoped on the bike and hauled to the mainland to catch the Brickell Run Club for their silent run.  This being South Florida, it was no surprise that some crazy driver ran me off the road along the way, literally driving in the bike lane inches in front of me

As I approached the area where the group meets, I had to stop.  The turnout was amazing.  Every local news crew was there, and probably a thousand runners were crammed into a little parking lot.  I have said for years that Boston is home, I just live in Miami.  At this moment I finally embraced Miami as being home as well.  Boston will always be home, but now I had a second city as well.  And now everything that had happened the day before was quickly sinking in

I needed to stop to regain my composure.  I wouldn’t blend in if I was crying.  I suspected I would be the only person there who was in Boston the day before, and certainly who had been as close to everything as I had been.  I took a few seconds and then rode in, just in time for the welcome from the groups organizer.   He invited previous Boston Marathon runners to come to the front, so I joined the decent sized group of runners who had completed Boston at some point, and carefully positioned myself behind a couple people to remain out of sight (sometimes its a good thing to be short).   I managed to keep my composure through the national anthem and for a few minutes after.  Then I saw a couple of friends, friends who knew I had been there, and one of them gave me a hug.  I broke down.  The horror of what had happened behind my back just a day earlier finally hit me full force, but I was blessed to again be in the company of friends and fellow runners

Unfortunately, with that first tear I shed, my anonymity disappeared.  The media were like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  Although I initially refused to be interviewed, I eventually gave in.  By this point I’d decided that this was at least part of the reason I was there.  So I gave the first reporter an interview, and promised a second that they could interview me after the run

Then the run started.  I started out slow.  My legs hurt, a lot.  I hadn’t gotten to properly cool down after my first 26 mile run in 3 years, and fastest in about 7.  But I had both legs, and I was going to do this run in honor of those who couldn’t, pain be damned.  Apparently the camera crew had decided they wanted to film me running.  This pissed me off.  This was not about me.  This was about Miami showing solidarity with Boston.  Yes, I was the link between the two here, but it was NOT about me.  I picked up the pace as much as I could and tried to evade the camera guy as much as possible.  Attempting to sprint away from the camera made this run a lot more painful than I had hoped.  I wasn’t very successful at it either

After the very painful run, I grabbed one of the shirts they were selling to raise money for the victims.  Bright yellow with 4:09:43 and #runforboston printed on it, I knew I needed one.  Since the profits were being donated, I could have a shirt to show solidarity and contribute a bit financially.  Then there was the issue of the interview I had promised…  but I was a bit worried.  The first interview had ended up being too much about me for my liking.  So I agreed to additional interviews so long as the reporters promised that the segment would not be about me.  Now I had to trust they would uphold their end of the bargain, and I found out later that night they did

Going into this years race, I had hoped to get some more media coverage.  I could have never imagined the circumstances under which I would get it

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