My Thoughts on Boston - Dr. Freddie So
I normally write my post Boston Marathon article with what I learned about life and the metaphors it teaches me physically, mentally, and spiritually. As you undoubtedly have heard, this one has taught me much deeper lessons about life.
This was my 9th straight Boston Marathon and it has always been a privilege to race with the top runners in the world. My race itself was going great – perfect 12C weather (compared to last year’s 31C scorcher), my wife and friends were here with me. After I finished in 3:02 (1:05pm EST), I looked up at my wife who was looking out our 4th floor window of the Charlesmark Hotel where we have stayed for the past 5 years. It has the best view of the finish line on Boylston Street, and I have always put a huge Canada flag outside our window to show our patriotism (you can see it on the TV coverage).
I was in our room at 2:50pm when the first bomb blew up. It sounded like a cannon, I initially thought it was fireworks, but it sounded much deeper and it shook the entire building. Our room is only 20m from the site of the first explosion and I went to the window and saw lots of smoke and people screaming. My wife came in and said ‘it’s a bomb!’ My friend yelled ‘there’s blood and body parts everywhere!’
12 seconds later, the second bomb went off.
We didn’t know if there were more bombs or if our shaken room would stay standing. We hurriedly threw shoes on and ran down the hallway and banged as hard as I could on everyone’s door on our floor yelling to warn them, yelling ‘it’s a bomb!’. We ran down the back stairway into the back alley and ran as far as we could away from the blast. We didn’t know if there were more bombs or what was going on but just kept running, or as fast as I could have considering I just finished a marathon.
We ran all the way to the Charles River, with little clothing and stayed in as open an area as possible. We started walking (ended up walking 10k) and saw thousands of people walking across the bridges from Boston to Cambridge. It was surreal.
Having no money, passports, any ID, or jackets we went to a restaurant and hung out while listening to the news.
Thankfully, a generous stranger who knows one of my colleagues let us stay at his house last night only 1 mile from the blast site and another lady lent us her hotel room for a few hours today. Thank you Gordon and Lisa (both Canadians)!
As of this moment, we are still waiting to be let back to our hotel to get our things. As my wife had a view no one else had and took photos of the finish line, we may have to go leave witness testimony with the FBI, and see when we can come home. Flights have been grounded at the airport.
This whole ordeal feels like it is from a war movie. As I write this there are SWAT teams, National Guardsmen with machine guns everywhere, bomb sniffing dogs, and crime scene tape right within my view. I ran right through the bombed area 1.5 hours earlier. My wife walked right through that spot that morning. I walked that sidewalk the day before. I have regularly been in the Marathon Sports Store whose windows were blown out. A fellow runner left our room after the race and turned LEFT instead of right leaving our hotel. The bomb went off to the right 1 minute later.
I can’t help but think ‘what if?’ I feel nauseous when I see the scenes of the explosions and see my room with the Canada flag outside our window in the news. But in the end, I know that God has my salvation and I have to live my life without fear.
If there’s one thing I will remember from this tragedy, it will be the generosity of people who helped us in times of need. That is what I always saw my role as a Doctor of Chiropractic, but with everything I went through this year with my near death experiences at the New York City Ironman and now at the Boston Marathon, I am so appreciative of other’s gifts and the love that God has put in their hearts to help others. It is a lesson we can all learn from this tragedy.
My prayers go out to the 8yr old child who died and his family (I have a 9 and 11 yr old) and to the others who have lost loved ones or have injured family members. It reminds me to hug my kids longer, tell more people that I love them, and to not worry about the unimportant things in life.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can drive out darkness. May God’s light shine on this terrible tragedy.
Dr Freddie So