For Twin Valley Elementary Center Art teacher Meghan LeClair, her first ever visit to Boston will never be forgotten. As a running enthusiast, she had signed up to partake in the 2013 Boston Marathon, and she and her husband Matt had also planned on tacking on a bit of a mini vacation to their visit to ‘Beantown’. Yet things dramatically changed when the two explosions erupted at 2:50 p.m. on April 15 near the Boston Marathon finish line. Fortunately LeClair and her running buddy Vanessa Buttery had finished the race and had left the area shortly before the blasts occurred.
Despite those vicious acts of terror, LeClair said that people cannot let the Boston Marathon experience leave them stuck inside of their homes and afraid to live their lives.
“With these acts of terrorism… …you cannot let them win,” she said. “You can’t live in this bubble – it’s unfortunate that these senseless acts are happening – but as hard as it is, you can’t let it lock you into this pigeon hole of not being able to do anything.”
Looking back, LeClair said that there were a series of things that made the day – a day which she said had an eerie overtone to it before any of the chaos took hold – an unusual experience.
LeClair finished the race with a time of 3:34 and Buttery finished approximately ten minutes prior. The first explosion occurred at the 4:09 mark.
“It was one of the hardest races I have ever ran – which I knew it was going to be – just because of the hills. I had a weird feeling the whole race. I pulled out both of my groin muscles, but for some reason I just kept saying to myself ‘do not slow down - you just have to get to the finish as fast as possible”.
According to LeClair, once runners finish the race they are corralled into a recovery area when they get water and food to re-energize, are wrapped for warmth, and receive their marathon medals. After spending almost a half-hour in the recovery area, she went on to a family meeting area where she reunited with the group which came to Boston together with her - her husband Matt, and Buttery and her husband, children and parents.
“Once we all were together I said to Matt ‘I’m really not feeling well… …let’s see if we can get taxi’ back to our hotel, and (Vanessa’s husband) Ken also said ‘let’s take a taxi back’,” she recalled. “Usually after I finish a race I need to ‘walk my legs off’. If we had walked I would have wanted to go back up Boylston to celebrate and we would have been right in the thick of it. That’s why I’m so glad that I said let’s take a taxi because normally I wouldn’t do that – take a taxi for two miles – we would just walk back and feel fine.”
By LeClair’s estimation, her group was traveling in their taxis when the explosions occurred. Along the ride back to the hotel she phoned her mother, who was watching her kids while she and Matt were in Boston, to check in and let them know she had finished the race. At that time neither she nor her mother knew what had happened at the finish line, but she does remember hearing a lot of sirens on the ride to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel it was not long before news of the explosions was everywhere.
“We were going to stay the night but decided that we should leave as soon as possible because everything was getting locked down. We checked out, got in the car, and took a route that avoided the main part of the city. We left soon enough to not have a lot of traffic problems.”
Although the group made it home safe, LeClair said that life has not returned to normal yet.
“It’s strange to think about those little decisions we make in life. If I had let my pain affect my performance, had I slowed my pace, it may have been a different story for me,” she said. “I kind of folded up all of my official Boston stuff and it’s just sitting in a pile and I don’t know what to think about it. That’s why I told Vanessa we just need to go out and run. Maybe we’ll wear our marathon shirts. I need to reconnect with her because we were such a pivotal piece of this whole Boston thing together, so I think that it will be a really good thing for us to get out and run together again.”
She will run to help things return to normal now, and also for the future too – as she plans on participating in the Boston Marathon next year.
“I’m definitely going to race it again. Runners need to keep running their races and keep running in these big city events.”
And when she returned to work at Twin Valley Elementary Center on April 17, she had a nice surprise waiting for her.
“It was my first day back and when I come in the whole staff is standing in the hallway (outside of my classroom) and they had hung a banner for me, and they were cheering for me. It’s nice to know that you have that support – it’s really nice that people really care.”
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