Softball coach Amy Kvilhaug stayed true to her desire of running the Boston Marathon, more than one year after two deadly bombings took place.
With heightened security presence and heavy hearts, Kvilhaug said the atmosphere was “electric” and “was ready to execute” at the mild warm day in Boston on April 21.
Despite the commotion, this year’s event seemed like a breeze compared to the 2013 Boston Marathon where a pair of pressure cookers injured 264 people and killed three. Those figures rose when police relentlessly pursued the two suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev after the fact.
Considering the chaos and angst caused by last year’s tragedy, no one could stop Kvilhaug and her impressive 63-year-old father Joe from competing this year.
‘It was important for me to come back and I knew it was going to be emotional,” Kvilhaug, who hails from Massachusetts, said. “You want to go back and show resilience for other people who went through things I can’t even imagine.”
Kvilhaug finished last year’s Boston Marathon before she received a pair of disconcerting, strange text messages from her friend Meredith Cleasby.
First one read, “I’m fine.” The second, “Bomb.”
She thought nothing of it at first, but proceeded to turn on the television set in her hotel room and then, she realized the nature of Cleasby’s message.
Immediately, her instinct was to check on her two other loved ones still in the race: her father and her best friend Cythnia Lujan.
Joe was safe in the downstairs lobby of the hotel. Lujan was too despite finishing less than two minutes before the bombs exploded . Cleasby’s whereabouts were unknown despite her texts.
After finally reaching Cleasby, Kvilhaug found out she was at the center of the chaotic spree helping others in a restaurant dangerously close to the bombings.
“She went in the restaurant to go get a bite to eat and was going to meet us after,” Kvilhaug said. “Right after she steps in the restaurant the bomb goes off.”
However, as her timely text implied, she was fine.
While Cleasby and Lujan understandably passed on the opportunity to run this year, Kvilhaug trained for nearly a year.
She had a running coach change and compared to last year’s training, she had less mileage to practice for and no stress fractures to keep her down.
Kvilhaug, who is in her seventh year coaching the softball team, even had some ice cream and her favorite fast food Chipotle during her months of preparation.
Initially disappointed she missed her personal best by a measly 23 seconds (3 hours and 20 minutes), the external factors and emotions surrounding the race gave her satisfaction of her performance.
“Originally, I was a little distraught because I should have ran a lot better because of the way I was trained,” she said. ‘“All in all, it was a pretty good race for me.”
Her father who was plagued with hamstring issues during his prep work, finished the race as a happy camper with the result.
Kvilhaug, will take a break, citing her busy schedule as a coach and shorter running endeavors such as cross country and sprinting as her focus for now. She will return to the marathoning game however.
“For the next couple of years, I’m going to put marathoning on hold.” she said. “‘There’s a part of me that will always come back for me.”