my dad’s work sponsors the boston marathon so i was really excited when my mom told me i could come down and watch the race with them at the finish line if i could get some time off work. i immediately jumped at the opportunity and booked off the weekend.

i got into boston and headed south to our home in hingham. its a beautiful small town, the complete opposite of our previous life in tokyo. hingham is close to the water, has great beaches and is seriously sports oriented (great for my two little brothers aged nine and ten). anyways our house in being renovated so it’s kind of hectic as of late with the whole downstairs torn apart. we stayed one night however then headed into the city early the next morning for brunch with my dad’s work crew who were running the race, followed by a red sox game- a perfect bostonian way to spend our saturday! we were running late, naturally, but made it just in time to wolf down some fenway franks (yum!) and listen to my dad give a speech to his employees who were set to run the race this coming monday. a summary of how proud he was that 150 of them had been training for this day and how we (him and his family) would all be there at the finish line cheering them on. (emphasis on not running the race ourselves but just simply cheering them on… our family isn’t exactly the best group of runners!)

we were staying at the marathon headquarters, the fairmont hotel right in copley square. athlete central. if you felt out of shape or discouraged about working out, this was your prime location to hang out. literally everywhere you looked you saw lean muscular legs walking/running around, prepping for the big race. needless to say i made many visits to the gym that weekend.

later that night i saw one of my best friends for din as we babysat the boys for the night while my parents attended dinner and drinks with the sponsors and whatnot. next day we had off, i met up with another good friend for a lazy day of shopping and lunching in newbury street (awesome lunch/shopping district in the downtown core). later that night we had dinner in the hotel with all the runners and met athletes who had previously run the race and who set up funds for their charity for the race. we talked to neb who had won silver at one of the olympics and if i remember correctly he won the boston marathon a few years back. he took this year off due to an injury. truly inspiring hearing his stories and experiences with running nonetheless. the boys got his autograph and we then met gronkowski, a football player on the pats who had set up funds in his charity for the race. afterwards i spoke with a lady who was prepping for her second marathon. i asked her how she prepared, what time she went to bed the night before, what she ate, how she trained for such a long race, etc. she told me how she was never a good runner but that she incrementally increased the distance she ran and eventually found running 20 miles possible. it was very cool to hear the inside details on how they prepare for for such a notoriously difficult event! i told her a bit about modeling and new york and how i trained to get in shape for this lifestyle, still in awe imagining having to run further and harder than i ever did. (my limit is about 5k in 30 mins, these people were training to complete 42k in roughly 4 hours… unbelievable!)

the next morning was marathon monday. motivating monday. we woke up, headed to the westin for breaky then quickly made our way over to the finish line as the men’s wheelchair racers would soon be arriving. this is around 10:30am if i remember correctly. we got to meet the head of the BAA among many other interesting people, all whom had their special ties to the race. we were sitting in the VIP stand right across the street from the main spectators area, right in front of the finish line. really, really amazing opportunity! i’m not even sure if writing does justice for how moving it was to be right at the finish line to view the runners complete this massive race, one they had been training a whole year for! we heard over the speaker that the first man for the wheelchair race was coming in. yamamoto- a japanese!!! so awesome! i looked to my mom, we were both preparing to get a shot of him the exact moment as he crossed. she was crying (obviously, she’s quite emotional) but i have to admit i was trying VERY hard not to cry!! it was so special to see him cross- firstly in the time he did and then next in a wheelchair. he came over to the podium, right in front of us to accept his medal. they played the japanese anthem and my dad lined up to congratulate him. i was trying to get craig’s attention so i could mouth to him to say ‘omedetou gozaimasu’, the japanese way of saying congratulations! they shook hands, exchanged bows and then we prepared to see the rest of the racers coming in. this was only the first racer to come in and it was already so exciting.

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we then saw the first woman in a wheelchair to come through, then the first woman marathon racer followed by lelisa benti, men’s #1 runner. craig got to hand out the medal to lelisa as we all watched, holding back our tears watching him accept something he had no doubt been training months for. my favourite part of the whole marathon was watching the runners cross the finish line. some would completely collapse and go 100% limp while the medics transferred them to a chair and wheeled them off to the medical hut nearby. others screamed and threw their hands up in the air, so proud of themselves for completing their goal. we watched the first few thousand come in, all within the first couple hours. there were barefoot runners, army men fully equipped with their entire gear, a few men pushing their sons through on wheelchairs who weren’t able to do the race themselves. a truly inspiring morning that i will never forget.

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we decided to go get a quick bite for lunch and then come back around the four hour mark when my dad’s work crew would start to make their way in. i took a quick hot shower back at the hotel to warm up before heading back out. the boys decided to stay in the room and watch some tv while the three of us, my mom, craig and i went back out to see the rest of the runners coming in.

our dog yuki was with us at the hotel so i decided to take her for a walk while my parents went in the grand stand and i would meet them there. i took yuki out just around the block, brought her back in with the boys then made my way through security. i saw my mom just past the library at the part right after the runners get past the finish line. we met up with craig and decided to hit up the stands as one of his closest friends from work would soon be crossing the finish line (we were able to tell from an app my dad had downloaded that tracks where the runners are).

we showed are badges and walked through the stands, which were emptier than the beginning of the day when the elites first started coming in. we were standing up looking around seeing the volume of runners continuously flow through the finish line. then BOOM!!! a realllllly loud noise right across the street literally in the middle of where we had been looking all day where i knew there were A LOT of people waiting for their friends and family members to finish. i was standing in shock and confusion, thinking it maybe was a speaker that blew up or something. there was smoke, a lot of confused people and lots of screaming. my mom yelled at me to run as she darted for the exit and towards where we had come from, back to the hotel. i was kind of in a state of shock. my dad was beside me to my left, my mom already running away. should i take a picture, what was this?? it really hurt my ears!! i kind of thought my mom was being a bit dramatic, running and all then BOOM, another one. okay then it hit me it was most likely a freaking bomb and they could be going off anywhere at anytime!! i heard someone behind me telling me to duck, but my dad was telling me to run so we kind of squat/ran as fast as we could through the exit and past the library. IT WAS A BOMB IT WAS A BOMB!!! my mom screamed as she grabbed my hand and we sprinted back to the hotel. there were tons of police at the security check point telling us to calm down. they hadn’t seen what we just saw, they had heard a boom but no one really knew what it was.

we saw police sprinting towards the explosion while we headed back to the hotel. it was weird running away from something that we knew had to be extremely devastating-my dad had thought to stay and help. but one, the boys were still in the hotel (the marathon headquarters) and two, we weren’t sure if there would be more going off. we ran through the hotel, my mom notified the front desk there was a bomb (i was still uncertain what the explosions were but she was very sure they were bombs) and she suggested the hotel go on lock down. shaking and trying not to cry myself, we made our way to the elevators to go up and check on the boys. my mom stayed downstairs as she met up  with one of craigs employees to make sure her son who was running the race was okay. everyone was crying and shaking. i put the key in the slot in the elevator to get to our room, a difficult task when my hand was shaking as much as it was, and ran into the room to see if the boys were okay. i didn’t want to freak them out but i immediately burst into tears the second i walked in. they were okay but very confused why i was crying so much. “there was an explosion at the finish line, we’re all okay don’t worry, but we have to stay in the room and wait for mommy and daddy to come back” they didn’t believe me at first but once my mom came in and they saw her current state, they knew something was wrong. they said they heard a boom but weren’t really sure what had happened. we all went down to the lobby, yuki, the boys my mom and i to see what was happening and if craig had any news on the explosions. he informed us they were in fact  bombs and that we should go wait in the room as he had to make sure everyone in the firm was okay, followed by an immediate conference on how the company, the marathon’s main sponsor, was going to handle this. we turned on the news, the boys in the other room watching a kids movie as my mom and i saw if we could get anymore details on what was going on. i felt really sick to my stomach and still quite shaky. my face was really hot and we still were in shock at what had just happened.

i still didn’t feel safe, i just wanted to be with craig, the family all together and get out of the city. an hour or so later we went back downstairs to one of the meeting rooms where craig had been talking with the fellow sponsors. he told us we were safe in the hotel and that it would be best if we waited upstairs as the whole hotel was on lockdown for the time being. i had told him i heard some noise on the roof above us, we were on the top floor so it was a bit scary to hear that knowing there were no rooms above us. he said it was probably the security checking for any more bombs.

we then went to another meeting room where they had a bunch of food and stuff for the runners. we watched the news a bit more, got a few more updates and chilled out and tried to collect ourselves. a runner who had come in before the blast was in there and we all sat in silence, watching the news as she pet yuki, all of us trying to materialize what had just happened. we went back to the room and decided to wait there for craig before we could hopefully get out and leave. he finally came back around 5-6 ish and said it was okay for us to leave but we had to be escorted to the car by security. in the car ride home the boys were pretty talkative, asking lots of questions about what happened, why someone would do that, were there any more bombs, were we safe, would we be safe in hingham away from the city-things little nine-ten year olds shouldn’t have to worry about.

we made it back to hingham, had dinner, all of us very thankful we were safe. literally 50 feet in front of us we saw it go off. 50 feet! my mom said she was way more scared in this than the earthquake. i can’t say, they were both pretty scary and i didn’t really know what was going on as the blasts went off. craig was pretty quiet. the next few days he seemed very dazed.  it is sickening to think that any human being could cause so much pain, especially at an event where thousands of people come together to celebrate the accomplishments of others. i don’t think i’ll ever be able to get over this, even writing it now and reliving what happened is quite hard. i can only pray for a world where there is minimal violence and things like this don’t happen. unfortunately i think it will be a while before something like that ever happens. in this time it’s important to be thankful for those who helped boston throughout this difficult period and appreciate the good people there are in the world.