The day she ran the marathon the weather was horrible. I had hoped it might just mist, a light drizzle that kept the runners cool, but this was a full-on storm. The rain never ceased and at times, it was a complete deluge, the kind where you can’t see too well, the rain is coming down so hard. The wind would be a headwind all the way into Boston.
Five years ago my daughter was running strong and less than a half mile from the Boston Marathon finish when the bombs went off. I ended up running against the runners that didn’t know what had happened yet trying to find her, hysterical and frightened, terrified that more might be coming. I was panicked that my daughter was alone without her phone and might be afraid or in danger. When we found her, she was still running and confused, angry that we were stopping her until we told her people had been hurt, likely killed and then all the glorious joy and excitement she had felt left her body and she deflated. We walked out of the area as fast as we could fielding phone calls and text messages until her now father in law, rescued us and drove us home.
Shocked, aware that we had been spared and others had not, the full weight of that day yet to come.
And it came in waves for days, weeks, months after that.
I hadn’t been worried about her at all in 2013.
But I was this time.
The weather was a ripe recipe for hypothermia, for pushing back any hopes for a personal best running time and kept some of the crowds away, crowds that have an enormous influence on screaming the runners home on the best of weather days.
But I am her mother and I hold both of my daughters worries and fears about what could go wrong so that they do not have to.
I worried that her drive in to the city to catch the bus to the start point with her running friends would be treacherous and that the wet roads might hide patches of ice. I worried that she would encounter traffic and miss the bus and not make it back to the start on time. I worried that she would not feel as positive and confident, but would succumb to the negativity that would be a death toll in an event this difficult. I worried she would become hypothermic and that worry amplified as we watched the wheelchairs and elite runners from inside the station where her father-in-law is now the fire chief and call after call came over the radio with hyperthermic runners before they even reached Mile 10.
How in the world would my daughter make it running outside for over four hours in this climate wearing soaking wet clothing?
We tracked her on the B.A.A app and went outside periodically to cheer on the wheelchair and hand cycle participants and then came back inside to warm up until our app showed her about 20 minutes away and we went outside until she arrived. Hannah spotted us and an enormous smile lit up her beautiful face as she stopped for less than five minutes to take off her rain poncho, grab her energy bar and was off again. I did not even notice the rain. Yet.
Nor did I notice the rain when we took the train to Boston to see her again and walked towards Boylston, just shy of the finish line.
We cheered on the runners, most of whom were runners for charities, the ordinary men and women who decided to do something extraordinary and did not give up despite epic conditions, the worst marathon weather in 30 years. The rain came in sheets with a wind that pushed it almost horizontal, but still wave after wave of runners ran down Boylston Street until our tracking app told us she had just turned the corner and we all watched for her. I saw my glorious girl and screamed HANNAH and her smile lit up the universe and I cried then, then I could finally exhale my worries and finally replace an old, frightening experience with a positive memory as my daughter ran right by us to the finish line to collect her medal. A medal that she earned. Boston Strong. Boston Proud.
We were meeting her at the Westin Hotel and had to backtrack down Newbury Street to Arlington Street to cross and that was when the headwind hit us and the rain and wind really let lose, though we didn’t think it could get any worse. All of us were dripping wet, soaked to the core at that point, any part of us that was not inside rain boots or hat or jacket now saturated and with the relief of Hannah crossing the finish line, I could finally feel the wet, the cold, and all I wanted to do was strip off the cloying, soggy material.
We had dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery, just making our reservation after a quick run to the car to change our clothing.
And then home to her house, where I slept, slept for over ten hours, slept in relief, slept in joy, slept in exhaustion. Proud of my amazing child.
I thought of all the runners, ordinary people like my daughter who had decided to take on an incredible challenge and do something extraordinary and I asked myself, “When was the last time you did something extraordinary, lady?”
And I realized it’s been too long, far too long since I took on a personal challenge of my own. I don’t know what it will be yet. But I do know it’s time.