We were all hit one way or another with complete fear, shock, sadness and/or terror since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. We ve also witnessed amazing acts of kindness, heroism and true human strength, both physically and emotionally. One of my very best friends in the entire world ran the race that day as well as many other loved ones and associates. I faced all of the emotions mentioned above but can not imagine how the people who were there that day felt: the injured, the loved ones of those killed, the brave men and women who ran the 26.2 miles race or the thousands of spectators who witness the tragic events. I was driving home with my children, Samantha and Jake (both 7 at the time). We just saw Alicia cross the 13.1 mile mark in Wellesley dropped off Dawn and Lydia at the train station (they were heading into the finish line to see Alicia) when I got a call from my hubby, Billy, to tell me what had happened. FEAR, PANIC, CHAOS! Did Dawn and Lydia make it in town? Where was Alicia. I got news that another friend, Joy, was also in Boston and she found Dawn and Lydia and quickly they all left in Joy’s car. However, it was hours before I finally spoke with Alicia and knew she was safe. Hours before I heard her voice. This is how I felt….I couldn’t imagine how everyone else felt.
Weeks later, I asked Alicia if she could share HER story with us! And here it is:
When I reflect on the past few months, I am reminded that life is full of twists, turns, curves, ups, downs…you name it.
It all started for me on Feb. 14(Valentine’s Day). I woke up on this day feeling happy and looking forward to dinner and maybe even a little surprise from my boyfriend Brad that night; at least I was hoping ….lol.
It was around 11:00 am and I was getting ready for a meeting with my boss. As the meeting was getting closer and she told me a few times she wasn’t quite ready, I was getting an uneasy feeling. I am known for my constant overthinking, so I immediately tried to stop it. Unfortunately, when I heard HR was joining this meeting, I knew what was coming. Yes, I could have been mad. Yes, I could have logged off that moment. Yes, I could have said what was on my mind to my boss. However, I decided to do none of these things. What can I do? I could use this time to thank my boss for helping me move from a job I did not love and continue training for the Boston Marathon. Yes, that is what I did! I left my job with class and my head held high.
The next chapter for me was to train wisely, yes wisely, for the Boston Marathon. I was given this wonderful opportunity by my fantastic club, the Mystic Runners. While most were supportive, some were concerned and thought I was out of my mind due to my multiple injuries and pain last year. Truth be told, I was a little out of my mind. Now, I don’t think I am a complainer (some would disagree – haha) but the pain last year was beyond pain and brought me to tears often. So, why was I doing this? I questioned myself as well. I am a fighter. I have fought more than this before and ended up on top. I can do this and that I did. I trained wisely, I used my down time to strengthen my core (something I did not do last year), and I did not over run (something I did do last year). I cut down on my races, and ran with the Melrose Club. Without them, I could not have done this. They have a great Sunday Long Run program and I tried to make this every Sunday. Yes, that meant a 6 am wake up, a low key Sat. night, and often times, running through snow storms(15, 18, 20 miles). Although this was not an easy task, I could do this. I knew I could.
The big day was finally here. Even friends that were not able to make it that day were so supportive and in my heart. A wonderful dinner was held with Carmela and Tanis the night before. I also had a wonderful dinner on Saturday night with my very dear friend Walter who flew here from Florida to see me. Lydia, Dawn, Keith and Joslyn were also there. Thank goodness I saw Walter that day and night because Monday did not happen. I had a great breakfast with Mikey H. Sunday morning. I got a million emails, calls and text messages. I felt fantastic. Nobody was more excited than me. Jose and Christina had offered to run with me. They did most of the race with me. I had a wonderful family that took time off from work and rented a hotel room for me that night. I had wonderful friends that also took time off and were going to be either at the finish line or somewhere during the race where I needed them so I could get my mind off the lactic acid build up. Rose, Lydia, Dawn, Samantha, Jake, Molly, and Jane were all there at mile 13. So happy I was. I pushed on. I can do this. Mile 22 came and the pain was getting greater. There Jen was jumping in to help me. She had medical challenges of her own and for her to do this for me was beyond words. She also was a god sent during my training. Even when she wasn’t feeling well, she was there. Unreal! As I was running with Jen by my side, my body wanted to stop. She wouldn’t let me and I knew Marcie, Paul (and the kids – Sofia and Gabrielle) as well as Walter were going to be there. Kristin, my brother, and Kelly, Lydia and Dawn would also be there. Brad was working the finish. Meg was giving out medals. I saw the Mystics, I saw the Melrose group. I got this. Work through it. I got this. Then my gut kicked in. Why was there police cars going down the road? Why did someone yell “be careful at the finish”? “Bomb?” What? I could not wrap my head around this. “Don’t pay attention Alicia. You are doing great”, said Jen. Ok, I need to listen to Jen. At mile 25.5, the police officer told me and many others, “The marathon is over. You need to stop”. I need to what? Stop? Not acceptable. I start to feel my eyes fill. No, I couldn’t process. I was sick to my stomach. Jen got me food. We sat down at the medical tent. I got a drink. We needed to get somewhere. I could hardly walk, but manage to do so. We got to our hotel but they thought there was a bomb there too. What was happening? I needed to sit down. Jen came up with the idea of going into a nail salon where they couldn’t have been nicer. We sat, had some water, and used their facilities. They were amazing. We finally had to leave there. They were closing and we had already stayed longer then we should. I had no idea what happened to my family and friends because I did not have a phone. Cell service was down, and when we did get service (Jen had her phone), I didn’t know anyone’s number off the top of my head. I did start the marathon with a phone but the weight was pulling down my pants (lol). Truth be told, I did not know who was alive. Somehow, I managed to stay calm (I think). Jen recommended going back to the hotel. We got in finally. She was so calm and don’t think we would have gotten in if not for her. They were looking for room keys and we did not have one. The rest is a blur. I saw Brad. We started to cry. He said my brother and Kelly were fine. I ended up talking to Walter and Marcie. They were fine too although very close to what had happen. Way too close. Angels (or several) were watching over them and Paul and the kids. I don’t even think I allowed my mind to entirely go there. Lydia and Dawn were stopped on the Green Line thank goodness. I am also thankful that Joy was ok and she was able to help Lydia and Dawn. She is an angel herself. Rose was home. I ended up talking to Rose at night as we both cried pretty hard. Kristin was safe. A huge deep breath. I tried to make the best of it that night with my brother, Kelly and Brad. I was so off. Numb.
I cried for weeks. These poor victims and their families. It all just so senseless. Why did this happen? Such a beautiful day and such a sad ending. I continued to cry. At least I was processing all of this.
The following week I got a few lumps removed on my head that ended up being skin cancer (basil cell – very common). The doctor ended up being a runner. The two hours flew by as we talked running, and he ended up releasing me to exercise way before I was supposed to be released. That is the benefit I get from getting a doctor who is a runner. I am well. Just a few headaches but will always be careful now and will always wear a hat when I run.
I am grateful to be running for the two Norton brothers’ on May 19th with my new found friends from Stoneham. We will run the marathon route (I will be doing about 4 and hoping Jen will run by my side). I would be lying to say that I am not a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish this year. I told myself I will never do another marathon for so many reasons, but trust me when I tell you I WILL make it happen next year.
Yes, it has been a crazy few months. I could handle all of this with anger and frustration but I choose to be a fighter and will fight even harder for I that I believe in and deserve. I will get a job. I will run again, and I will live a healthy life. I am thankful for having great friends (and all are safe) and a wonderful family. I am thankful for having good health and just waking up in the morning. I am thankful for being alive. Things can only get better!!! Life is full of twist, turns, curves, ups, downs but in the end, it is all about how you see things and your attitude towards life. Someone always has it a lot worse then you. My heart and prayers are with all of the Boston Marathon victims and families.