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Kim Cowart: Returning to the Boston Marathon after 2013 bombings in search of closure

Published: Monday, April 21 2014 8:00 a.m. MDT

This year has been a struggle. While others sought solace in racing, I sought solace in solitary running. Anger came, but in unexpected ways. When I see pictures of the bombers, I feel nothing. But when I see someone being less than kind to another, or when someone complains about something as mundane as too much pepper in their fettucine alfredo, my patience wears thin.

I’ve changed, for better or worse. I know first-hand that bad things happen and they can happen to me and my loved ones. I’m a little less trusting, a little more on edge. The sound of sirens sends my heart racing. The orchestral sounds announcing “breaking news” on TV makes my palms sweat. I avoid pictures and video of the finish line, but when I do see them, I can’t take my eyes off them, even though I usually end up looking at them through a watery lens.

On the other hand, my appreciation for my blessings is greater than ever. Not every moment is a joy, but I recognize those joyous moments more than I did before. My passion for racing has waned, but my passion for running has grown as it has been my greatest therapy. Perhaps the biggest change has been in my priorities.

Throughout our return trip home I wore my Boston Marathon jacket. Strangers would hug me. Out of one horrific act came millions of heroic, selfless acts of love and kindness. But the best moment happened at the Salt Lake Airport as we made our way down the escalator to the baggage claim. From the top step I could see my two daughters, my mom and my dad. Every emotion I’d felt came gushing out as I ran down the steps and hugged them all. Squeezing my sweet girls, I imagined this is what heaven must feel like.

As I return to Boston this spring to rewrite the end of my story, I look forward to many more hugs with my Boston Family. I feel as though I’ve been hanging in limbo this past year. I’m not fearful, but I am anxious about how I will react when I see that finish line again. I’m not returning to show the bombers they can’t keep me down. I’m returning because I need to close this chapter. I need to start fresh.

This Boston Marathon will truly be a rebirth.

Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner who will be running marathons from Boston to Berlin in 2014 with gratitude and joy.

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