Waiting for her husband, Jeff, to come find her after the race, she was sitting a block away and around the corner from the finish line. She had finished the marathon about 40 minutes before the first bomb went off. She began hearing ambulance sirens and helicopters, but even then the magnitude of what had happened did not register. It wasn’t until she got a text message from a friend in Arizona asking if she was okay, that Richardson realized that she had just heard two bombs exploding.
Every marathon runner (or endurance athlete of any kind) will tell you that training for an event like this is not for the faint of heart. It will challenge you to the core–both physically and emotionally. You will find out what your limits are, but you will also discover you are stronger than you thought. You can go a few steps farther than you went the last time. For many runners, just qualifying for The Boston Marathon is the achievement of a huge goal. This is a race for serious runners.If they could keep going, I can keep going.For Richardson, as for most runners, this race represented months of training, battling through injuries, fighting mental demons, and enduring all kinds of weather. With her 6 children sleeping, she trained early in the morning year-round, sometimes getting up as early as 3:00 AM to beat the desert heat on the long runs, and sometimes running in temperatures as low as 10 degrees. Running the Boston Marathon was the culmination of all that hard work, and she was excited to be there.
On the flight to Boston, Richardson read accounts of the sacrifices and endurance of the Willie and Martin handcart companies in the book, The Price We Paid. She says the hardships and experiences of those pioneers came to her mind as she struggled through the last miles of the marathon. At mile 17 she wondered how she could possibly go another nine miles hurting like she was, with hills looming in the distance. She told herself, “If they could keep going, I can keep going.” With those thoughts to buoy her up, as well as the positive energy of the spectators, she did keep going, finishing just under her goal time.
Despite her struggles, Richardson says the marathon experience was a great one. “It was a happy place to be. There was such a feeling of joy and accomplishment.” She said that the people along the race route were so supportive. Itʼs a holiday in Boston. There was a holiday atmosphere — right up until the bombs went off. “Then it changed to a terrible experience.”
A few days after returning from Boston, Richardson was teaching her Gospel Doctrine sunday school class in her ward. As she related her experiences at the marathon, the emotional weight of it all descended like a wave upon her. “When something like this happens, you think about your family. You think about your kids. They could be taken at any time. Your life could change in a moment. You ask yourself, ‘Where am I at in my life? What am I taking with me?'” Richardson is thankful for the gospel and the eternal perspective.Where am I at in my life? What am I taking with me?
Though she wishes her experience at the marathon had not been affected by the terrible events that took place afterward, finishing was a significant accomplishment for her. But she had weightier matters on her mind as she headed for home. “All I could think about was I can’t wait to get home to see my kids!”