Boston: Fear, then relief, after finding group member

Posted4/15/2014 5:01 AM

I was nervous a year ago at this time. Although I had completed all the winter training, including three 20-mile runs with my running friends, it's at this time that marathoners begin to second guess everything. We try to anticipate all potential obstacles to success, like bad weather, wardrobe malfunctions, and aches and pains. Never in our wildest dreams, however, did we think we would remember Boston 2013 because of the finish line bombings.

There were five runners in our group. This was my fifth Boston marathon, but Peggy and Matt's first. The weather conditions were perfect, and my race went well. No one met me at the finish though, to share my joy. My son and his girlfriend saw me at mile 23, but then had to hurry to catch a flight. My wife stayed back in Palatine, since she had met me at the finish in my four previous races.

So instead, I sat in the noisy family reunite area, about a block from the finish line, waiting for the other Palatine runners. I heard the first explosion, naively wondering if a transformer blew up. The second explosion occurred seconds later, and this usually noisy area was eerily silent. The explosion sounded like it came from the finish line, but the tall buildings in-between made it difficult to discern.

Then the sirens started wailing, yet still, no one knew what happened. All of a sudden, the woman standing next to me shouts, "Oh my gosh! My boyfriend from Chicago just texted me saying there was an explosion at the marathon finish line."

I finally found Scott, Diana and Matt, but not Peggy. From our friends back in Palatine, we knew she had passed the 25-mile mark a while ago, but she did not have a finish time. Where was she? Was she OK?

Finally, an hour and a half later, we got a text from Peggy, "I'm okay." Best text ever! It took another 90 minutes for us to get to her, even though we were only a mile away. Finally reunited, with hugs and tears, we realized that although we trained for 18 weeks to achieve a great finish time, there are far more important things in life. Peggy and Matt are going back this year to run Boston 2014. I wish them a great finish time!

Paul Herzog


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