The marathon is over, amidst all its glory and tragedy. But the healing of Boston and the work of Tenacity goes on....

April 16, 2013

Dear Family and Friends, For all of us, the 117th Boston Marathon is one we will never forget. The mark of terror on an event that is usually full of celebration puts gratitude for life and the love of family and friends at the top of the list. Amidst tragedy, there is ironically so much to be grateful for, AND so much to do and be for others.

When the two explosions went off, I was at mile 25.8 - so close to the finish, yet thankfully so far. All of us runners looked at each other, wondering what the loud noises were. We kept running, and then encountered confusion when the course bottlenecked. All of the sudden, my elation about an impending finish turned into something I still can't put words to. None of us knew what was happening until spectators along the course shared details of the explosions. It was an odd combination of choas and compassion. Fellow runners were cramping up in pain, and some panicked as they were pondering the status of those who were to meet them at the finish line. Those with cell phones discovered that they did not work. Yet amidst all of this confusion, generous spectators brought us bottles of water, from which we all shared gulps; runners were huddled in hugs in order to stay warm; a stranger gave me her solar blanket... I was also thankful to have the companionship of two fellow Tenacity runners.

About an hour later, we were allowed to walk to the buses that had our belongings. It was a surreal feeling watching fellow runners wander the streets, unable to get to their destinations or receive aide. With no public transportation and no cell phone connectivity, it was difficult to connect with loved ones. There were oddly few officials present in the streets, perhaps because their attention was diverted to the task of making sure other explosions were not in the works. I was fortunate to eventually connect with my husband, John, via text and meet him for pick up several blocks away. I had to hop over a security fence to get to him.

I was later shocked to hear of vivid details from a friend of mine who was working in the medical tent at the finish line. He saw limbs flying before his very eyes. Despite the terror, he was honored to be of help to the victims, spectators and runners. It is people like this friend that were the day's heros.

The marathon was, in so many ways, not the one I had hoped for, yet full of lessons that ended up to be more important that the goal I had set out for myself. I ran a strong first hour, but then succumbed to severe unexplained stomach cramps that left me walking through much of miles 8-10. At that point, I shed a few tears, thinking I would need to end my race in Wellesley. Ironically, the walking enabled me to refocus and start running again. Instead of worrying about the finish line, I simply focused on the getting through the mile at hand. I turned off my "tunes" and gained strength from the crowd, including the cheers of friends and Tenacity supporters. The highlight of the race was seeing the smiling faces of my family at mile 19.

The highlights of this marathon journey have been many. Firstly, it is through your financial support that I have been able to raise over $6300 for the important work of Tenacity. Our entire Tenacity team has raised over $100,000! If you haven't had a chance to make a donation and are interested in doing so, you may do so on this website, or send a check to "Tenacity" to me: 470 Chestnut St., Needham, MA 02492. Our fundraising deadline is May 1, 2013.

It is also through your support in spirit that I have been able to make it through six months of marathon training, over 800 miles logged. I have felt your wind beneath my wings. In my training journey, I learned a lot about listening to the needs of my body, employing techniques for learning to run faster, honoring my limitations, the value of commitment...

After my first marathon a couple years ago, I didn't know whether I wanted to run another one again. After this one, despite its mark of terror, I WANT to run again. Will I do some things differently according to what I have learned? YES. But most important to me is honoring my love of running for its own sake, taking advantage of the opportunity to raise money for an important cause like Tenacity, and finally, helping to restore the Boston Marathon to its place of greatness in this city of resiliency and vitality. No act of terror can overcome the outpouring of community and compassion that I experienced amidst the chaos of yesterday's events. And this is a reason to celebrate, and to RUN!

With love and thanks to all,

Gretchen, #22048

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    (617) 562-0900
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    38 Everett Street
    BOSTON, MA 02134
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