Is Boston Strong enough for what’s next?

It was a little over a month ago that I wrote about the verdict in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial. Yesterday, the jury came back from deliberations and pronounced that the twelve men and women decided he should be put to death for the horrific crimes he committed. He bombed innocent people. He helped kill an MIT police officer.

And now, the twelve ruled: LET HIS GLOBAL BUS PASS BE REVOKED.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the jury. After all, if the death penalty shouldn’t be applied in the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, when should it be applied?

There are those who say that it should never be applied, whether they believe in the concept of turning the other cheek, or whether they believe in some manner of redemption…or perhaps they believe that if even one wrongly accused person is put to death then we as a society are no better than those that we would hold in contempt.

I also don’t necessarily agree with the jury, either.

From the moment he was caught, I wanted him gone. Toss him in the deepest, darkest hole in our Federal penitentiary system, I said. Let him disappear forever where he can’t harm anyone else and he will never again experience the joys of freedom. He was guilty, so much so that even his defense team acknowledged his guilt from the outset and only worked to mitigate its impact by trying to deflect blame onto anyone and everything except for their client.

In that sense, barring some kind of overturning of his conviction on appeal, at least he will be in prison for the rest of his life. He will be off the streets. He won’t get to hang out with his friends in his dorm room or at a restaurant. He committed horrible, senseless, violent acts that are utterly inexcusable, and he should be punished.

I see so much blood lust on my personal Facebook and Twitter feeds; some friends and family seem gleeful at the idea of him being taken out back and put out of our misery. And rarely is it ever that simple. In practical reality, because the verdict of death triggers an automatic appeal, his story will be in the headlines for months and years to come. Of course, there are also the candle-wavers holding virtual vigil for the idea that the death penalty is so wrong that he must be spared from a rather immediate termination and instead have a lengthy life in prison…followed by termination–voluntary or otherwise.

It’s all enough to make you wish people were still posting copious videos of cats playing pianos.

I was chatting with a co-worker yesterday and I mentioned that I knew people who were there on the day of the bombing: people inside The Forum, people at the medical tent, people hovering near the finish line as they cheered on friends and complete strangers. Anyone with a connection to prior Boston Marathons was there in some way, shape, or form that day–even if we weren’t there physically. Yesterday only dredged up some of those feelings, giving neither comfort nor solace. It was only a mile marker in a much longer marathon.

We have such a small time on this Earth, in this universe. We have but years in which to build and enjoy lives of exploration, education, and emotion. We are a blink of an eye in a natural system that tells times in eons and epochs. We are transient. We should never hurry on death and destruction. We should never rejoice in it.

I wish the verdict brought peace, but it doesn’t. It allows twelve people to go back to their lives as they were before, knowing they will never be the same. It allows the rest of us to wait impatiently and uncomfortably for whatever size and manner of shoe is next to drop. This story won’t go away anytime soon. There is no fading into obscurity.

The trauma continues.

The marathon keeps going.

Are we Strong enough for this race?

I sure as hell hope so.

It took almost two years to get here (and still Boston Strong)

After weeks of hearing witness testimony, seeing horrific photos and physical evidence, and visiting the boat where he holed up during the latter portion of the manhunt in Watertown, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s jury has found him guilty on all 30 counts related to the Boston Marathon Bombing of 2013.

It’s been almost two years.

I still remember the day vividly, how I was in a conference room at work with a co-worker when frantic texts started pouring into my phone, a friend checking on me and asking if I was at the Boston Marathon. I had no idea why the concern until she told me there had been explosions. My blood ran cold.

My co-worker and I immediately stopped working and started pounding away at our laptops, trying to get any kind of news we could find that would tell us what had happened. I was panic-checking Twitter constantly, because I had friends working and hanging out at or near the finish line and I was terrified they would number among the dead and injured.

In the days that followed, the world became very strange. Boston became the Hub of the Universe for others, with reporters and federal agents flooding the city and surrounding suburbs. Work was stopped for many on the fateful day the Tsarnaevs went on the run in earnest, as Cambridge and Watertown were on lockdown. No one was to go anywhere. DH and I worked from home, checking the news websites, checking Twitter, hoping for news.

And then it happened: one brother dead, one captured. The stories that emerged of their attempt to escape are nearly as horrifying as the bombing that started all this madness: one brother running over the other with a car as he desperately tried to get away from law enforcement, and an MIT Police Officer, Sean Collier, shot dead.

It makes me sick thinking of it still.

The Boston Marathon is a symbol of hope. It’s the hope that you can be and do more than the average human should. It’s the hope that we can persevere in the face of pain, frustration, hills, and our own limitations as people.

We can’t and won’t let anyone tarnish our hope with their evil. The Boston Marathon will continue, and the route from Hopkinton to Boston will remain as storied and hallowed as it ever was.

And as for Tsarnaev, the guilty verdict was necessary and proper. He admitted to the bombing, and his lawyers were positioning their messages only so they could help him avoid the death penalty. He can be put to death or allowed to rot in the deepest, darkest hole in our Federal penitentiary system–either will suit him just fine. Nothing will bring back the four lives lost, the hundreds of limbs ripped from bodies, the peace of mind in the souls of those terrorized that fateful day.

He can now become a footnote in the annals of history.

The Boston Marathon will run on, and all those amazing runners and wheelchair racers will continue to be the symbols of hope they’ve been for decades. We will always be Boston Strong. Period.

My 3rd walking marathon

I’m still not entirely certain that it’s sane to walk 26.2 miles but, if I’m not altogether there, at least I’m in good company. On Sunday, I walked my third marathon in support of The Jimmy Fund – the fundraising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. That part is completely sane…so sane, in fact, that I’m super-proud to say that I made “Pacesetter” again this year (which, this year, meant raising a minimum of $1,500).

The day started early enough: my alarm was set for 4:00am. Since I get really edgy when I have my alarm set for very early times, I slept fairly poorly and woke up a few minutes before the alarm went off. DH and I crept out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door at 4:30am, heading to Copley Square to park the car. The theory is, if you park the car in Copley, you take the shuttle bus to Hopkinton and walk back to your car. And so, we repeated what we’d done in the two prior years, making great time to Copley and boarding the first bus we were able to get on. After a quiet drive out the Mass Pike and a quick pit stop at the registration area for dh’s hat, we grabbed a bagel (thanks, Dunkin Donuts!) and hit the course at 6:18am.

I know this sounds like I’m just making it up, but the first 9-10 miles are always the easiest. You’re excited. You’re enthusiastic. You’re fresh. We took a couple of stops along this part of the route, pausing to change socks at the 8mi “refueling” station (the first of three such changes I’d make during the walk), and then on we went. It was at this point that the bursitis I’d been fighting all week – and that randomly, rather cruelly hobbled me for DAYS preceding the walk – started to come into play. Following the advice from the nurse practitioner I’d seen earlier in the week, I iced my hip at the 8mi point, while we stretched and rested, and I took 600mg of ibuprofen at the start and partway through the walk. It helped, but it only really took the edge off and never really made the discomfort go away entirely.


Welcome to Ashland…town #2 along the route

I felt like I ate my way through the course, though really all I ate on the course pre-lunch was a peanut butter and honey sandwich. My breakfast was a hardboiled egg eaten in the car, along with a granola bar, and half of a wheat bagel (dry, untoasted) before hopping on the course. Mostly, I tried alternating between water and Gatorade, just to try to stay hydrated. Lunch was a turkey and cheese sandwich, some chips and a couple of brownie bites. It was a fantastic balance of carbs, protein, sugar and salt to refresh myself. I only snacked minimally after that, although I have to say the Ritz Bits cheese sandwiches I had when we turned onto Beacon Street were all kinds of awesome.

The weather was rather lovely for the start – brisk without being chilly, and cloudy to a fault. But then, once we were about a third of the way through the walk, the clouds started to give way to the sun, and things started to warm up a bit. When we stopped in Natick, I changed my shirt from the long-sleeved “2012 Pacesetter” shirt to a tank top. I teased dh that I was probably challenging town decency laws, but he shrugged it off as, “Enh, you see more skin in a Target flyer.” Touché.

Joel & Jesse

An institution for NINETEEN YEARS, they follow the walkers along the route

The latter portion of the middle third of the walk was probably the toughest. When we were deep into the hills of Newton – which are steep and tall – there was virtually no cloud cover and the trees were spaced out enough that there was very little shade to be had. Worse still, there was almost no breeze. For the last two years, our arrival at the Boston College refueling station was where I would hit a wall that I’d have to climb over. This year, I started to feel a bit out of it while climbing one of the last hills in The Heights (the area that includes BC), but I only needed a few minutes to sit in the shade and rehydrate to get myself back on track.

The Orange Guy

Manna from heaven…and The Orange Guy

Then, up I went..and up WE went. My slightly awkward gait from the bursitis flare-ups, combined with sweatier feet from heavier padded sneakers, led to a couple of blisters atop the balls of my feet. These managed to pop – or something – as we were making our way through the five miles from BC down to the finish, but I didn’t really mind. Fortune smiled on us during the last portion of the walk and most of the final stretch was done in shade and with a cool breeze blowing on us. I was loving every minute of it, while dh was actually complaining that he was getting chilly. I suppose it’s the few extra layers of fat I have on him that probably meant I’m better in cold than he is.

Finish Line


Regardless, right around 4:20pm – nearly 10hrs to the minute  from when we walked across the official start line in Hopkinton – we crossed the finish line in Copley Square. This includes about 1-1/2hrs of stops and breaks along the way, so we still made fairly decent time (averaging about 19-1/2mins per mile). We flew through the early miles, but the ones in Newton were much slower due to heat and hills. (I’m utterly convinced that the person who designed the Boston Marathon course loved hills and hated people.) In reality, the time we made is a little better than that, since we walked MORE than 26.2 miles (the finish line of the walk is a good block farther down Boylston than the official finish line of the Boston Marathon, and we start our walk from the official start line of the Boston Marathon, rather than the slightly-farther-down walk start). No womens tee here, folks.

Anyway, it was a great day…so great, in fact, that I did a post-walk, post-stretch plank, just to prove that I could. We had so many great supporters along the way, like Joel & Jesse, and The Orange Guy, and there were so many others who were new or regulars that clapped, cheered, gave us MOAR COWBELL and all that, and it was phenomenal to know that there are others out there who were helping us along the way.

Mile 19 marker: Keira

Why we walk…


I dedicated my walk to four people whose lives were directly affected by cancer. One year ago as of Saturday, we lost my dear, sweet aunt to lung cancer after a lengthy fight. Jackie had breast cancer twice before, and this was her second occurrence of lung cancer (most likely from having been a heavy smoker for years). Just a handful of weeks ago, we lost our friend Tim to mesothelioma after a battle that didn’t even last a year.  He will always be remembered as a sweet, kind, funny, and wonderful person. Within the last few months, a friend’s mother – Rosette – began her own battle with brain cancer. Rosette is another sweetheart, and she’s been quite perky in her updates as she has her appointments at the “Dana-Farber spa”, as she puts it. Clio is the only one of the four I haven’t yet met; she’s the young daughter of my sister’s neighbor, and she’s been fighting cancer for more than a year. It’s unfair that kids should have to deal with this crap. It’s bad enough that adults have to deal with it. If anyone ever asks me why I walk, why I’d be nuts enough to walk a marathon and spend a day on my feet, I can answer easily enough: because my marathon is nothing compared to that of a cancer patient.

I’ll leave with this quote, from a sign left to cheer on a walker up one of the nightmarish hills in Newton, because it made so many of us smile. It’s so true.

Your feet hurt because you're kicking butt!