Monday, April 29, 2013

4:09:44 into the 3rd Wave

Some people wake up on Monday mornings
Barring maelstrom and red flare warnings
With no explosion and no surprises
Perform a series of exercises

Andrew Bird, Simple x from the album Armchair Apocrypha
"After you've run 26 miles you're not going to stop there." 
Bill Iffrig, 3 meters from the finish line.
At 4 hours, 9 minutes and 44 seconds into the third wave 78 year old Bill Iffrig was steps away from completing his 3rd Boston Marathon when the first of two bombs detonated.  The concussive force knocked him off his feet and rendered him temporarily deaf.  As he lay crumpled, stunned on Boylston Street he attempted to make sense of the incomprehensible.  He saw the second bomb explode and his mind seized. He was immediately surrounded by police and race officials. As he lay on the pavement a volunteer helped him to his feet and offered him a wheel chair. Bill declined the chair and crossed the line on wobbly legs with ears ringing.  He then walked another 6 blocks to his hotel.    

A reporter later asked Bill why he declined the wheelchair to which he replied "After you've run 26 miles you're not going to stop there."

At 4:09:44 into the third wave chaos erupted and terror seized Boston. This is the exact instant that smart phones world wide lit up, including mine.  This is the nano-second that social media sites flooded the airwaves.  This is when the images of dismembered bodies and blood pouring flashed world wide.  We saw the chaos and the insanity... we saw it all in internet real time.

Of all the images from this tragic event this is the one that continues to haunts me. I am drawn to the fluorescent yellow police vests and the bright red of Bill's singlet. The vibrant colours show strength and yet they are contrasted with incredible vulnerability.  The wisp of Bill's grey hair, his age, the faded white line, the multi-national flags blowing stiff from the blast, the smoke, the chaos. 

But it's the wisp of hair that is the focal point.  I carried a blurry image of this photograph on my long run this morning. The wisp of hair. The red singlet.  The thinness of body. Legs buckling. Crumpled body. The incredible pragmatism of Bill's words ... you're not going to stop there... as if to challenge the evil head on.  A wisp of hair. A wisp of fate.  A wisp of humanity. 

Life is but a wisp.

I received an email from a friend at the finish line. He witnessed the carnage and the insanity in technicolor. He paraphrased Jack Layton's final words to our beloved nation... love is stronger than hate...  In the context of the evil abounding the words cause my eyes to brim with tears. It seems abundantly appropriate to repeat the words here in their entirety. 
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we'll change the world.
Yes friends, it's a good day to be alive, but it is also sad.  Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic on this day and on all days. 

When will you run today?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We are with you Boston

An unbelievable, awful day. It started out so beautifully. Pure joy on so many faces. Then this thing of evil. I am struggling to comprehend. My friends are all safe, although some families have lost loved ones. Such pure evil. All of Boston is in shock. But I know this: love is stronger than hate.

Bill Dieh-Jones, 4.15.13

I had just passed 0.2 miles to go on Bolylston. I heard and saw the first blast but I thought it was a celebratory fireworks thing. The second was a block closer. Now a little scary (but I was SO close to the finish line. Then, police, ambulances, fire trucks, black SUV's and men in uniform with automatic rifles. I'm from Canada. Now it was getting scary. I could smell the smoke. I went into the Mandarin Hotel to use the restroom. They closed Boylston with baracades from along the sidewalks. Then they sent us out of the hotel into the mall. Then into the street. Thankfully I met my wife (by LUCK!!). We could not get to our hotel which was blocked off. I was in wet running clothes! We got around a back street and convinced them to let us in through the basement.  I didn't start shaking until I heard how many people were injured or killed. I haven't stopped shaking yet.
Bob Steinberg, 4.15.13

We are deeply saddened at the news coming from Boston today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the City of Boston and everyone affected by this tragedy

City Park Runners, 4.15.13

Oh my God! TWO explosions at the finish line of Boston marathon! Saw a photo of several runners down with police everywhere and quite a bit of blood where several runners were down. Still trying to find out some details. Very scary situation.
Gary Gobiel, 4.15.13

Vivian?  How is Vivian?
Michael Bennett, 4.15.13

Jake, Tim and I were waiting for Vivian at the family area a block away when the explosion happened.  I had crossed the finish line about 30 minutes before the explosion and made my way to the family area where Jake and Tim were waiting.  A few minutes later Kevin arrived just after the bombs went off.  He had finished five minutes before the blast and saw the smoke from the explosion.  The noise was terrifying especially after hearing the second blast.  After five minutes they cleared the streets for emergency vehicles. I had not heard from Vivian and she was due any minute so I was very worried. Later I learned that she had been stopped at mile 25.9.  She had fallen off her pace goal to stretch and walk a bit.  Had she kept on pace as planned it might have been terrible.  Thanks for thinking of us.
David Cormie, 4.15.13

We're all sitting here in a bar and just hugging each other.
Vivian Rachlis, 4.15.13

By attacking the marathon community, you're picking a fight with some of the most resilant, peaceful people on earth.  We are strong as individuals, but even stronger as a united running community.
Jean-Paul Bedard, 4.15.13

The images of evil are beyond human comprehension. We flood the airwaves with hope and love.  We are with you Boston.

We take some measure of comfort knowing our Manitoban runners and their families are safe and yet we mourn for the dead, the maimed, and the loss of innocence. 

With tears brimming and with a heavy heart I say to you friends, it is a good day to be alive.


Gerald Boulet
David Cormie
Gordon Dalling
Doug DeJong
Bill Diehl-Jones
Kevin Donnelly
Brian Drummond
Jake Fehr
Fiona Fleming
Randy Gabel
Cathey Gornick
Marlis Jabs
Ray Jones
Mark Lawall
Justin Mangin
Mike McGovern
Peter Pazerniuk
John Power
Vivian Rachlis
David Ranta
Melanie Sifton
Marcel Sorin
Bob Steinberg
Tim Turner
David Watt
Julie Whelen

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Running San Antonio

Last week I had the good fortune of running in San Antonio, Texas.  I left on the Wednesday and returned late Sunday night.  I managed three little runs; 6 miles, 7, miles and then on Sunday, 15 miles. I was attending a national conference in this, the Home of the Alamo.

The first little run, 6 miles, was out the front door of the hotel and onto the river trail. The trail hugs the banks of the San Antoni River and meanders through the heart of the city. It's congested and touristy but very pretty.  Shops and restaurants line the trail and it's thick with pedestrians.  I saw the odd runner but truly, as gorgeous as it is, it's not the best place to run because of the crowds.  The river walk branches off into several directions so it's easy to get spun around.  You're also well below street level so there are virtually no reference points. I made my way back to the Hyatt showered and returned to the area where I discovered Springer, a local beer with a bit of a bite.  

The second little run was away from the crowds.  I planned 6 mile route that led out of the downtown area.  I planned a circle route but I managed to get myself lost.  It was all fine until I found myself under this huge freeway with roadways zigging and zagging about 20 feet overhead.  The area was a little run down and I must say I was feeling a little unsafe.  

The third little run was the most pleasant. I was well fuelled from the previous evening's meal and I managed to convince the front desk to extend my check-out to noon. I left the hotel after a mediocre Starbucks coffee (does Starbucks serve anything but mediocre?).  I ran from city centre to the San Antonio Zoo, met up with some local runners and had a nice chat.  I was out of water so one of them gave me chilled bottle of water; nice that.  I ran through a forested area and over a bridge.  A man flagged me down to chat about my Minneapolis Marathon tee-shirt.  He was from Wisconsin and was feeling a little homesick. 

Watching the clock I realized I better head on back to the hotel.  I passed by the San Antonio School of Art so I had to detour to see it up close... stunning. I realized I had about 45 minutes to spare so I ran beyond my hotel into the wealthy end of San An.  Back on the river trail which is now the back yard of zillion dollar gated condo developments.  I ran and I ran.  I just did not want to stop.  Finally I ran out of trail.  There was a group on bicycles so I chatted. I asked how to get back to the hotel and they gave me a couple of options.  I asked if the lived in the area and they chuckled and replied they were housekeepers for several different homes in the area.  

Back at the hotel just before noon, showered, packed, sitting on the patio of my favourite restaurant with a very chilled Springer, thinking yes, it is indeed a good day to be alive.. all pumped up on vitamin D.

Back in Winnipeg I ran 22 miles today on dry pavement with warm sun and I was strong right to the finish. The Ottawa Marathon is about 40 days away and it don't seem so scary anymore.

It's a good day to be alive.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Running the Alamo

I told my wife that I've been slacking on the blog writing lately.  She said I was just being blazy I did have the good fortune of running in San Antonio Texas for 5 days last week.  I promise I will blog it, but man, I'm busy.. and, truth be told,  a little blazy.  

You all be good and know that you're wonderful folks, all of you.  You might not realize it because of your life circumstance, but believe me, it's a good day to be alive.

:)  Mike