Friday, April 19, 2013

American Strong

When the first plane struck the Towers on September 11th, I was sleeping.  I was staying at a friends house and was scheduled to fly out of Boston at 4 pm that day.  I was a flight attendant.

It didn't take long before her phone rang with my mother in a panic asking if I was there. That was just the first of many phone calls that day and not just to me.  My parents friends were frantically calling them to see where I was.  My sisters friends did the same. In fact, she had people stop into where she was working just to find out about me. People I didn't even know.  That day our country changed forever.  I wrote sympathy cards for 33 people.  Not only did my country get hit, but my livelihood.  I had a job I loved with a company I was proud of and thought I would fly forever.  That did not happen.

On Monday, I woke up excited to watch the Boston Marathon.  I was excited to see Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan race.  It was also the first time I actually knew someone running in the race.  I also knew people who were going to the race just to watch.  I actually considered going myself.

I turned on the live stream and sat with my coffee enjoying every minute.  I watched the elites finish and then had to get ready for an appointment at 1 pm.

I had been tracking my friend Michelle and was getting text messages automatically sent to my phone once she passed different points.  I was so happy to see she had finished and hit her goal.

Once I was home and turned on my computer, everything changed.  I saw the first post. It was someone saying that they couldn't believe this has happened.  I did not understand right away.  Then I got my first message.  "Where are you?"

We turned on the news.  I sat in shock for quite some time.  I cried, I was sad.  The first phone call was, of course, my mom and she basically told me to forget about Philly.

I was so humbled by the many messages I got from people who were worried, once again, about me.  I was not kidding in my last post when I wrote that I would have to be 70 before I qualified for Boston.  I really wasn't.  I was not running Boston, but I could have been spectating and I knew people there.

I knew Michelle was finished, but where was she? Was she with her friends and family? Maybe she wanted to go back and cheer on some of the other runners?  My heart sank.

Deb, a great friend of Michelle's and new friend to me was there with her 9 year old daughter.  Were they OK?

I sent messages via FB to both of them and after some time, I found out they were all ok. Shaken but safe.

Then I thought about the Patch article I read earlier that day with all the names of the local RI runners who were there.  The editor of Patch sent out an update asking if anyone had any info on the local runners.  I knew Michelle was good, so I sent an email to him right away.

Before the night was over, I sent a message to Michelle that read: "Michelle, Congrats on such a great race! It may be easier said but do not let what happened today diminish your hard work and accomplishment! Let's continue to run on and not let them win! You are an inspiration to us all and I am so happy for you today!"

I went to bed sad but woke up ready to run.  I got dressed in the closest I could get to the colors of the Boston Marathon and headed out for 6 miles.  They were emotional miles but so very good for me.  I know we all have ran for Boston the last couple days and we will continue to do so.  It's what we do, we run.

I had a hard time thinking about the families that lost loved ones and those who lost limbs.  The hurt and scared children who were just there to see their mom or dad cross the finish line.  Children just like my George and Gracie who would have been there with signs and cow bells.  This fueled me though and my anger really kicked in.

I was not planning on writing about this day but the more I see, the angrier I get.  I am still angry over 9/11 and I am sure I will continue to be angry over this terrorist attack also.  I want the people who did this found and I want them to pay.  That is where I fail at being a Christian.  I don't want them to rot in prison, I want them gone.

So what do we do?  Well, we are runners.  We are tough and we are determined.  We will run.  I will continue to race and I hope that my son will continue to run with me.  I will train and run Philly, my hometown, our country's birthplace.  I picked this race because I grew up in Philadelphia and I love the city.  Now it has even more meaning.  We are American's and I will run where the Liberty Bell lives, where our flag was sewn by Betsy Ross, and where the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were signed.  The City of Brotherly Love.

Because I worked and flew out of Boston, I lived just outside the city and now, from Rhode Island, I can be in Boston in an hour and a half.  It is a city that I also love.  I will run every mile with Boston and the victims in my heart.  I will run to honor them because I know they would not have given up.  And someday I will run the Boston Marathon.  I cannot say for sure that I will ever qualify, but I do know that I can raise money, so if that is what will get me to the starting line in Hopkinton, then so be it.

So let's run!  They did not stop us from flying our planes and they will not stop us from running.  We are Boston Strong, Philadelphia Strong and where ever it is you call home Strong.  Together we are American Strong.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


  1. My eyes are filled with tears. You are an awesome woman. You make every woman, every runner, every person who knows you so very PROUD of you. God bless you and "Run Strong, Think Big".

  2. Great post - thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.