What got me first was that it was the families and friends that were targeted.
Finishing a hard race is great, but the moment that stands out is not the finish line, but the aftermath. When you turn to your right and see your boyfriend waving at you with a grin, or your friends come to hug.
Racing is selfish, I do it for myself. Cheering, being there - that's different. People do that because they care for others.
And they were targeted. And that makes me feel small and sick for having put my friends and loved ones at risk.
But then the queasiness compounds. I understand that events like this aren't unknown in other areas of the world - a relatively small bomb that killed two and maimed ~100 might make the evening news if it happened in Mali. Or maybe not. But this bomb, during a marathon, is the intersection of first and third world issues. A bit of reality brought to my Facebook doorstep. And I feel horrible and numb, not about this, but about the other bombings that I've barely spared a thought for. Because they didn't happen to people like me.
And I know that in a few days, I'll go back to my normal world. Because I'm human, and humans can only process so much.
My friends who ran Boston have lost something small but large. A great marathon is something that is yours, to savor and enjoy. Bombings, attacks, terrorism - those never belong to those directly affected, but become poli-social Frisbees. I was in downtown DC during 9/11, right next to the FBI building. Over a decade later, I bypass social media each September 11th. Because I'm done with my memories and want to move on, while those who were further away focus on it with high emotion. 9/11 now belongs to them, not to me.
That's how it will now be for my friends who ran Boston. No race reports. The shock will pass, and then they'll be done with it. Even as their marathon experience becomes something much larger and political and retweeted and speechified and no longer theirs. The media (social included) can exercise eminent domain, and here's the best example of it.
All of us who weren't there will discuss ad infinitum, as if we knew what it was like. But we don't. There's no way we could. And each time I rehash what happened in Boston today (even by this post), I'm complicit. I'm contributing to my friends' stolen experience, their loss. But I'm human you see. And so I continue.
And it also seems silly, to regret that friends had their marathon experience tainted, stolen. When so many others lost so much more. And so much that is so much worse happens everyday, to people that aren't like me. But I'm human, and I focus on what I can understand.
When you race, you learn about your physical and mental limits. But today I've (re-)learned about the many limits of human nature, both my own and others. It's not a good feeling.
But I'll eventually forget about those limits, again. Because I'm human.