[Editor’s Note: Carolyn Damphousse graduated from FSU in the winter of 2014 with a degree in art. Last year, she ran the Boston Marathon for the second time. She discovered her talent for running in the 3rd grade, when she ran a mile in six minutes and 30 seconds. However, it wasn’t until high school that she truly fell in love with running. She ran on the Cross Country team and the Outdoor and Indoor Track teams. She will not be running this year because she lives out of state. However, she qualified for next years Boston Marathon with a time of 3:31:50. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, women must run 26.2 miles in 3:35:00. Carolyn said running has challenged her mentally, physically and emotionally. She has become fascinated by what the human body is capable of, and believes she is faced with a new and exciting adventure every time she laces up her sneakers. Below is Carolyn’s first-hand account of the 177th Boston Marathon]
“The day started off like any other morning, with the addition of excitement coursing through my veins with the anticipation of the race to come. Nervous and silly exchanges were made while I got ready at my friend Rachel’s house, braiding each other’s hair and applying Vaseline on all the necessary body spots. We finished up our last pre-race nutrition choices and last minute sunscreen applications and made our way to the starting line. We ran as ‘bandits,’ which are un-registered runners.
When you step toward the starting line, a never-ending stream of excitement hits you. You see the corral of elite runners hopping around, warming up before their starting gun goes off. When it got to a certain leg of people, myself, Rachel and a few other running friends started running behind a large group of people. The energy as you pass through the different towns is so contagious! Everyone is cheering you on and encouraging you! It really is the most invigorating rush.
Eventually, I separated away from the group of people I had started running with and was on my own for most of the race. But the thing that is great about the Boston Marathon is, even if you’re running alone, you never, ever feel alone. You talk to random people throughout the race, you get snacks from spectators, you meet new people and sometimes, even laugh with random people.
The last few miles always feel the longest, and usually hurts the most in many different places, but mentally, you just can’t stop. You become determined to reach that finish line. You don’t want to let down the thousands of spectators, most of whom become a blur, while they excitedly cheer you on for your success.
I finished the race at about 2:30 p.m. A few minutes later, Rachel arrived and within 30 seconds I heard a loud cannon-like sound, followed by a cloud of smoke a few blocks back toward the finish line. From our vantage point, we couldn’t see what had actually happened. Immediately following the first blast, there was this silent stillness that settled in all directions surrounding us, which is something that never happens in such a busy and crowded place at an event like this. Time stood still. The silence was interrupted by a similar yet slightly duller noise. We just looked at each other for a second so confused about what had just happened, but there was this anxious feeling that made us not want to be where we were anymore. Within a few moments, a few cops came running from the opposite direction, climbing over the barricade with the most concerned looks on their faces, continuing to run toward the noise.
That was when we sprung into action and immediately started walking the opposite direction back to her uncle’s house about a mile away. We still had no clue what had happened as we are walking through Boston Commons – all you could hear were sirens. Most everyone couldn’t use cell phones, but mine was still working for some reason. A minute later, my fiancé called all concerned and told me what happened. Immediately, I had a feeling of overwhelming anxiety. Within the next half hour, I received countless phone calls and texts making sure I was OK and safe.
This type of thing leaves an impact on you. For me, it has created a greater appreciation for life and left a huge pride for the city I grew up near. It has made running that much more important to me.”