When I watched the Twin Towers fall on CNN in 2001, I didn't really get it.  I mean, yes, I understood that it was a terrorist attack and that people were dying, but I had only been to New York once before and my frame of reference was off.  Even though I only lived a bit over 2 hours from Manhattan, it felt like a foreign country.  Those images couldn't possibly be from my country.

The subsequent train bombing in Madrid didn't resonate with me at all.

And London, well, I just couldn't fathom. 

I didn't know these places.  I’d never been there.  Beyond the human tragedy, I couldn't really situate myself in those people’s shoes.  All I knew was that it was a horrible situation and that I would never feel entirely safe in a plane, train, or subway again.

Fast-forward to Boston.  It’s a city that I barely know, but just one week after the Paris marathon, it’s a situation I could see myself in, that I lived myself.  The clock, timed at 4 hours and 7 minutes as the first bomb went off during the marathon, hit too close to home.  I would have been at the finish line drinking my water and having a banana just as the chaos struck. 

How it should look...

Watching the footage over and over on NBC, I could see myself there, feeling what everyone was feeling just before the explosion.  The emotional distance that I could take from the World Trade Centers or the London metros no longer existed.  I cried – more tears of anger than anything else – that one more sphere has been taken from us.

Roger Robinson of Runner’s World describes it perfectly, saying he feared this would happen one day.  Perhaps one can argue that it's a giant show of vanity or self-indulgence to celebrate a physical feat that only a privileged few can participate in, but did an eight-year-old boy need to die to prove that point?  Did anyone?

A Google Image search for “Boston Marathon” reveals more pain, blood, and tears than smiling finishers.  This isn't how it needs to be.  Marathons are joyous, celebratory, unifying, and as Robinson says, the one sport where no one gets booed. 
How it shouldn't look...
As if running a marathon weren't hard enough, will we be able to cross the finish-line without a sinking feeling in our stomachs – the same feeling that many feel during takeoff, or when the subway unexpectedly stops between stations, or when parents drop their children off at elementary school, or when we go to see a movie…how much more ridiculous will this get?

Photos: Google Images Search