It's hard to think that only a year ago everyone in Boston was still numb with the confusion and disbelief of what had happened. With conflicting feelings of pride and wishing to run away, I decided to stay in Boston for this weekend. I am so glad I did.
I experienced a city banding together to support runners, survivors and themselves in a display of what it truly means to be Boston Strong. My weekend started on Saturday with the Boston 5K. My friends and I descended on the Commons into what I can only describe as a carnival for healthy people. Runners were everywhere, enjoying free power bars and Gatorade from the Runner's Expo. The atmosphere was welcoming and exciting as amatuer and marathon runners alike were greeted with smiles and encouragement.
We took our place among the 10,000 runners all bouncing with anticipation for the starting gun.
Back at the 9:00 min/mile starting line, the air was anything but competitive as runners met each other and shared excitement in being part of the weekend.
Running through the streets of Boston was amazing and I never thought I'd run down Boylston Street without getting hit by a car. Kira and I nearly cried as we crossed the Marathon finish line (the halfway point for our race). It was more overwhelming than I ever thought, but also gave me the most closure I've had in a while. As we crossed our finish line everyone high-fived each other and gave rounds of congratulations.
Monday was a continuation and ramp-up of the excitement. After going through the equivalent of airport security to get onto Newbury St, we joined thousands of onlookers to cheer runners on as they crossed the finish. As I high-fived runners I felt like a fan touching the hands of the Beatles. The runners along with the cops on the street became my heroes for the day as we screamed encouragement and praise to everyone who ran by. As amputees from last year crossed the finish line I knew I wasn't the only one nearly in tears from the strength they showed.
The pride I felt watching the MIT team cross the finish line was immense.
I can honestly say I have never been more proud to be an MIT student and a Bostonian than I was on Monday. The love and support that filled the city was immense as everyone involved was treated like a hero. Applause broke out in the street for every runner who walked by in their jacket, and I hugged dozens of police officers.
I feel like our city can finally put last year behind us and be assured that our scars will heal. We will continue to the city that will always run as one as we go forward into Boston's next chapter.
Congratulations to all the runners. Boston will always be grateful for your strength.