The Shoes We Wore #BostonShoes

Janice Corkhum42

I need to write this down so I can get it out of my system, and express my thoughts and emotions on what occurred on April 15, 2013.

The moment I awoke, the day was special. The moment I put on my CHB shirt and remembered why I was running, the moment I got into my brother’s truck for the ride in to Boston at 5 a.m., the moment I got on the bus out to Hopkinton, and the sun rose over Boston, these were all great moments.

The moment of stepping in to the church hall where we waited anxiously for our corral to load, the moment in front of the sign “it all starts here” and taking my picture with David Wade, and looking up at the sky saying ”please sun, come out, its cold.” Texting and Facebooking all my photos and thoughts, reading my good luck posts from friends and family alike. This was the start to a great day. The coaches gave their pep talk, and we listened and wondered will I get to 26.2? I didn’t doubt it for a minute at that moment.

We stretched in the back of the church, and nervously arrived at our corral, the charity runners all eager to start, many first-time runners, many first-time moments. One careless runner who so spilled Gatorade on my leg and my new running shoes, a moment shared between a neurotic sneaker owner and a clumsy man. The moment the gun goes off signaling “get your ass in gear, it’s a long way to Boston.” The moment I crossed the starting line, blue and yellow flash before me and the descent down the street, people cheering, people throwing clothes. There is a sense of camaraderie you will not find elsewhere, for we are all sharing this moment.

The little kids, offering dirty oranges that have fallen to the ground, and we take one, because it makes them happy, and it gives them a moment of joy. The parents yelling “Go Children’s” or some even able to read my name, saying “you got this, Tootsie!” The moment of jealousy, as everyone is yelling “Go KIP” as his name is shorter and bigger than mine, and apparently Tootsie too long to say …

The moment of wishing I was just a little bit lighter and faster. The best moments of seeing my husband and kids waiting for me at mile 9 holding a sign and again at 14 and 22 , offering me candy and water and snacks, dressed in their bright green T-shirts. Meeting my patient partner and drinking blue Gatorade from a straw, seeing my nephew and sister-in-law holding their new puppy, made my moment at mile 13. The brief moments of leg aches and back aches, praying, Dear Jesus, let this go away. Let us not forget the sticky moments of going through the water stops where your shoes stick to the ground from the Gatorade, where you have to peel your foot off the cement. The moment I ran by Rick and Dick Hoyt, yelling “Go Team Hoyt!” and feeling inspired to the core. Taking a deep breath at the fire station at 17.5 and realizing, here come the hills. The moment where I tell myself that I will run up Heartbreak. Followed by the moment of saying “where in the hell is the Johnny Kelly Statue?” Getting to 21 and saying “it’s all downhill from here”—one of the best moments of the race. They are all great moments; these moments, they are mine. They are mine to remember for my lifetime.

Then, everything changed the moment I realized they were clearing sidewalks. Saying to myself “What the hell was that? Car backfired, I think?” Police barreling through runners and thinking, “wow someone must be really in bad shape.” The moment I see three volunteers at mile 25 and they are holding hands praying, and I ask “can you please tell me what’s going on?” The moment I heard the words “there was an explosion at the finish line.” The moment I realized my brother is ahead of me and where is he? The moment I decided I am not going to stay here and wait, I am going to find my brother and go to the Westin, our pre-arranged meeting spot if we got separated and if we didn’t cross the finish line together. This where all Children’s runners are meeting, this is where my bag is, this is where my cell phone is, this is where I MUST go.

The moment the police officer told us to “stay safe and take care of each other.” The moment of runners collapsing because they just had to stop running after 25.5 miles and have no food or water or heat sheet. The moment I borrowed a stranger’s cell phone only to discover there was no service, and texted in hopes of it going through. The moment I said to the man, “My name is Tootsie, I’m OK and going to the Westin if anyone texts you back.” The long minutes of walking endless streets to get to the Westin, going by the school buses of runners bags only to see runners literally pushing people to get their stuff and kicking out back doors of buses because they thought they were unsafe. The moment I walked through, grabbing a Mylar sheet that a volunteer was handing out, and telling us to go the The Common, knowing I was not going there. The moment another runner said to me “you are moving awfully fast for someone who just ran 25 miles.” I was on a mission.

I made my way to the Westin only to be stopped by a young Boston cop, who said “sorry, Ma’am, (love that word) you can’t get in, it’s in lockdown” Wait, what? The moment I realized no matter how much I begged and explained to this cop, he was not allowing me to go near it and told me to get back away and get across the street for my own safety. The moment I am staring down the street with people scattering and trying to find family members, cops with rifles, and the SWAT team, all telling us to stay back and to stay safe and to avoid large crowds.

The moment of standing on the sidewalk and wondering what do I do? Where do I go? Where is my brother? How am I getting home? I have no way to get to my clothes or cell phone or money. But never once did I think I was in danger, it never occurred to me that there were other bombs. No one knew what was going to happen next. No one could tell us. I decided I would go the family meeting area G and see if my brother was there, out of desperation. The moment I realized he was not. The moment I borrowed an out-of-towner’s cell phone and prayed I would get an answer. The moment my brother picked up after the fourth try—the moment I started to tear up because I knew he was safe and I wasn’t alone anymore. The moment I saw him and got my cell phone and it started to literally go crazy with texts and Facebook posts and emails. The moment I realized, people cared about me and my well-being.

The moment we realized that the next step was getting out. The moment we were turned away from the garage because it was also in lockdown, the garage that we had to walk the whole way around the block to get to. The moment we had to figure out how to get home, without a car, wallet, money, or trains. The long moments of walking to Storrow Drive and down into Leveret Circle. The moment of wanting to cry because my legs ached so bad. The moment of seeing my husband and kids. The moment of getting in a warm car and driving out of town. The moment I hugged my sister-in-law.

And … the moment I saw on TV what the hell had happened. And in that moment, I realized, just how grateful I was to be where I was and that there are really great people on this earth, and they just all happened to be at the same place at 2:50 p.m. on Monday, April 13, 2013.

Let us not forget the moments lived the days after, awaiting a capture, awaiting answers. And the greatest moment of relief when we heard of one death and one capture. These are all moments I have etched in my memory forever, but what isn;t in my memory are the moments stolen: Crossing the finish line, enjoying Boylston Street, getting a medal on my neck, celebrating my accomplishment with joy and happiness, eating an oatmeal raisin cookie and having a Diet Coke at the Westin, wearing my shirts and sweatshirt proudly for a different reason than I do now. I can never get these moments back. They will never be same. The runners who got the chance to finish had their moment of celebration stolen, the winners of the Boston Marathon. Who? The hundreds of innocent people injured. The three innocent people who had their moments stolen forever, and their loved ones being robbed of moments with them, never to share in any of life’s great moments again.

I am grieving the loss of this marathon, the loss of everyone’s happiness, triumphs, and moments. I vow to finish this race; I will run my last mile and not wear my medal until I do.

We now have new moments to share: The heroes of April 15, and the victims, who will so bravely share their moments with us, their triumphs and their defeats. And one of the best moments has yet to come: the third Monday in April, 2014. Where I will once again, alongside my brother, and this time, I will finish, we will finish, and we will not have our moments stolen again.

See you in Hopkinton, where it all starts again.