When Running a Marathon is of Little Importance

By Carissa

Excerpt from a statement from the Boston Athletic Association 

"Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.  What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance."

Yesterday I ran the Boston Marathon.  The biggest and most significant race of my life.  
finish line photo
Shortly after finishing, tragedy struck.  

The race I had just run was insignificant.  It was a distant memory in light of what I experienced, what I saw, and heard.  

I was in the post race finishers area on Berkeley Street.  I had just parted ways with my family who came to support me: my eight-year-old son, my mother-in-law, and my husband's aunt.  I was on the phone with my mom when I heard the explosions at 2:50 pm.  They were loud.

I scanned the horizon and among the thousands of people lining the streets, no one reacted.  At that point the cause of the sounds remained a mystery.  

I came back to Boylston and Berkely to wait for my roommate Holly.  Within minutes, emergency vehicles began to be mobilized.  To my left was a medical tent.  Volunteers were lined up and one worker was sobbing.  Several others were crowded around her, comforting her.  The two events were enough for me to clue in that something was wrong.

Around 2:53 p.m., I asked a volunteer what was going on.  That's when I learned that two bombs had gone off at the finish.  I was overwhelmed with sadness.

If you have ever run a marathon or other endurance event you know that once you finish, you experience a swell of emotions. My roommate Holly put it perfectly.

"When you finish a marathon you need someone to come up along side you and hold your hand.  You can literally hardly walk or think for yourself."

When the city sprang to action in response to the bombs, my roommates and I were all separated.  We were left alone to navigate the tragedy on our own. 

I knew Holly had already finished the race, but neither of us had heard from Devon.  Was she at the finish line?  Was she okay? 

The emotions started spilling out of me.  I sobbed as I aimlessly navigated the streets away from the finish line.  No tears fell from my eyes.  My body was too ravished to produce them.  Where was my family?  Were they okay?  

At 2:56 p.m. a text came in from my mother-in-law asking where I was.  They were headed to the train station.  When the bomb went off they were close enough that they could smell it.  People started running toward them to get away from the area.  Their attempt to get on the subway was thwarted because the system was shut down.  They spent the next hour and a half walking to the train station.

By 5:00 p.m. my boy was on a train headed out of the city and back to Connecticut.  That was just what this mama needed.  When tragedy strikes you don't want your child around it and out of your loving, protective arms.

At 2:57 p.m. I called Holly to try to connect with her, but it was loud.  She had been close enough to see the plume of smoke and knew immediately that a bomb had gone off.  Police told everyone where she was to evacuate the area.  I heard her tell me she was getting away from the area as quickly as possible and the phone cut off.  That was the last of my ability to communicate via phone for the next several hours. 

Moments later Devon sent us a text that she was on the subway.  You can read about Devon's experience yesterday here.

Thank God.  Those closest to me had been accounted for.  

I had the where-with-all during all this to post a quick update to Facebook.  "I am fine but I heard two bombs went off at the finish area."  That post became an important check in for many friends and family.  I couldn't use my phone to make calls, but Facebook and texting (though spotty) allowed me to communicate my safety and know of the safety of others.  Yesterday would have been even scarier had I not been able to do that.

I continued down the streets of Boston sobbing.  At first many people seemed unaware of what had happened.  Maybe they assumed I was upset about my race?  But as time passed and the city filled with the sounds of emergency vehicles, more and more people were aware of what had happened.

I got to the subway station at the Boston Commons.  I wasn't 100% sure it would be safe to get on it, but I wanted to get back to my hotel as soon as possible.  It was a moot point.  The doors were locked and the station shut down. 

I tried to pull up Google maps to direct me back to my hotel but the lines were jammed and it wasn't working properly.  Some locals gave me directions and I spent the next forty minutes slowly walking back to the hotel.  When Devon opened the door it was my first time to connect with someone I knew.  I gave her a big hug and held on tight with relief.

For the rest of the day and into the night we gathered around the television.  All of us worked full time to respond to texts, calls (when we had service), emails, Facebook and Instagram.  We were raw.  Our minds and emotions were (and still are) reeling from the shock.  We didn't even have a legitimate meal until 7:30 p.m.!  Though we didn't go to bed until 11:30 p.m. we were still wide awake seven hours later trying to process this day.  Still awake.  Still mourning.  

I put on my Boston marathon hoodie this morning with mixed emotions.  Before yesterday, the Boston Marathon was full of positive mental associations for me.  Now I know that every time I wear my sweatshirt or jacket I will be reminded of the sadness of this day.  
Devon, me and Holly
I'm still processing this terrible event and I know you are too.  Later this week I will blog about my race.  This needed to come first.


  1. Awesome account, Carissa. Can't even imagine what you saw was like. So thankful that your alright. We live in a very broken world that the only hope it has is a relationship with a loving heavenly Father and Jesus. This was never his intention for us.
    I know you will glorify Him through this experience.
    Love and blessings,
    Judy Charlton

  2. Love you friend. I will be happy to see and hug you tomorrow. Safe travels today.

  3. Carissa,

    When I heard that you were there my heart dropped! So glad to know that you are physically ok. Take the time to let your heart mend. Your writing will help you do so! Safe travels home!

    Margie McAuley

    1. Margie - that is such wise advice. "Take time to let your heart mend." I think we needed to hear that. Thank you!

  4. Praying for you as you process all this and so thankful you are safe and Cav's buddy too. I'm sure he has a lot to going on inside of him as well. Love, K