Local runner shares Boston marathon experience

Fleet Feet Orlando / adidas BOSTON365 group member shares his personal experience at Boston Marathon April 15, 2013

Many of you are aware that I ran the Boston Marathon on April 15, so I thought I would give you a brief perspective of this tragic day. It had been an unusual time for me as I trained to prepare for this race in that I have not been able to run for the last four weeks due to bronchitis and a serious sinus infection. And, I think I must have cracked a rib coughing last week, so when I run, it feels like I have an ice pick in my back. If it were any other race, I would never have attempted to run because I felt so bad. But, it is the Boston Marathon, after all, and the hardest part of the Boston Marathon is getting in, so I was just there for the ‘fun’.

woodBostonAt the starting line my plan was to just start out slow and enjoy this historic race and the absolutely beautiful day. All was going according to my race plan, but as I started up Heart Break Hill at mile 20, I had a very nasty bird poop a vile gray snotty mass all over both of my hands. I was shocked and had nothing to wipe it off with as it dried – like cement. Then, a lady in the crowd handed me a beer, which was actually perfect for washing it off.  I thought that was a funny story – until things got serious.

As I was just getting ready to make the final turn onto Boylston Street just few minutes from the finish line – I heard the two bombs go off. At first I thought it was cannon, given it was Patriot’s Day in Boston, but then a Boston police officer jumped out in front of me and halted the race. At that point I knew there must have been a terrorist attack at the finish line – exactly at the time the crowds would be the largest. The breeze was brisk and the temperature in the low 50’s and I was very wet – and started shivering. After waiting for at least an hour, the police finally said the race was cancelled and to go home.

Great. I didn’t know where “home” was exactly, and I only had less than 10% of battery capacity left on my iPhone due to all the calls, emails and texts that had been pouring in. I was also using my phone’s battery for the GPS map to help navigate a path to find my wife, Dana, who was waiting for me at the family meeting area near the finish line. She actually saw one bomb go off, which we believe was an intentional detonation by the police.

Our original plan was meet and then walk to a nearby hotel that was supposed to have transported and stored my race pack and warm clothes from the starting line. But, I texted my wife and asked her to meet me at the hotel instead the family meeting area. I felt she would be safer there instead of an exposed area outside. As she made her way there, I didn’t know they refused her entry into the hotel, with the police shouting for her and the crowd to “clear the area”. I was finally able to get into the hotel with my identification as a runner, but then I got trapped, because the police put the hotel into lock down right after I got in. At that point my iPhone battery was nearly dead. The police said I could not leave the third floor – indefinitely – where I was looking vainly for my clothes bag.  I immediately began to search the third floor and finally found an emergency stairwell exit – and escaped three floors down to the street to try to find Dana.

Another complication was that the police had shut down the entire downtown cell phone grid, so I couldn’t call her with my remaining minutes of battery life. Her last text to me said she was kept out of the hotel and she gave me two street intersection names.

By the grace of God, we finally connected, hours after we should have reunited. Still very cold – I didn’t get my race bag until the next day – we walked back to our hotel, which was about three miles away. A hot shower and a good dinner and sharing our stories of the day got us all caught up.

We are praying for the victims killed and maimed by this terrorist attack on our nation. I am so grateful Dana was not injured at the finish line and that I was a few minutes slower than the explosions — I think the bird poop delay and beer clean-up was about the right amount of time to save me from being in the blast zone.

EdWoodPlease pray for the families who lost loved ones and suffered critical injuries. This was a tragedy that will scar our nation, but not defeat us nor discourage us from running any marathon or attending any sporting event. I have already qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon and will be back to run it next year, God willing.

May God bless America.

Edward O. Wood, Jr.


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