Moments before, we had heard two big booms but thought they were dump trucks. Marathon crowds do produce a lot of trash. Sirens were going off like crazy, but I dismissed them as the norm. Maybe runners pushed too hard on such a gorgeous day... —Kim Cowart, Participant in the Boston Marathon
Editor's note: Kim Cowart is a wife, mother and fitness instructor. She completed her fourth Boston Marathon Monday prior to the explosions.
BOSTON, Mass — We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. After last year's Boston Marathon inferno, runners were overjoyed at near-perfect conditions.
The mood at the athletes' village was one of joy and celebration. For many, this race was the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice, and triumph. It's not just another marathon. It requires so much more. It's the only race I know of where the people in the streets congratulate you before you've even started to run. There's a reason I keep returning.
As I ran with my friend Debbie Tebbs, we reveled in the electricity we felt from the crowds. Around mile 5, talk turned to gratitude. Gratitude for the health we have. Gratitude for the opportunity to take part in such a legendary event. Gratitude to be together. I believe my exact words were, "I'm running to express my gratitude today."
Once I got back to my hotel room and started fielding congratulatory texts and calls, this perfect day changed drastically.
"Are you OK?" texted my friend Jessica.
"Um, yes. I just ate my second donut. Why? Are you worried?" I texted back, thinking she was just being funny.
"Yes," she answered.
Moments before, we had heard two big booms but thought they were dump trucks. Marathon crowds do produce a lot of trash. Sirens were going off like crazy, but I dismissed them as the norm. Maybe runners pushed too hard on such a gorgeous day, I thought.
Jessica didn't text back. She called, and that's how I heard the news. I turned on the television and was assaulted by a live image of the scene of the blast. Just yards from the finish line, the same finish line I was at only an hour before — just yards away from where my husband, Christian, and our friend Bryant stood by waiting to see their wives finish a dream of a race.
The bombs went off in an area densely packed with spectators, only feet away from finishers. An area filled with joyous celebration was now filled with chaos, shock, panic, and at last sadness.
As I write this, two people have died. Many more are injured. The view from my hotel window is hectic. Our hotel is surrounded by fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and officers on bikes helping lost runners and spectators find their way through the maze of closed streets. Sirens are blaring. People gathering, some in shock, some in anger. Most in sadness.
We've been told to avoid congregating in large crowds and to stay in our hotel rooms as other devices have been found and dismantled. Celebratory dinners in our area have been canceled. It would be hard to celebrate anyway.
Whoever did this wanted to do more than physically hurt people. Whoever did this wanted to steal away the accomplishments so many have worked for. I will admit that right now, that's exactly what's happened for me. The day turned from perfect to tragic in mere seconds. I haven't yet wrapped my mind around what has happened.
What I do know is that runners are resilient. Runners persevere. Runners can work through all sorts of pain and discomfort. This time it's just a different sort of pain and discomfort we have to battle through.