She will tell you candidly that she was not a runner. She even has a blog that says so: imnotarunneruntiltoday.blogspot.com
But she watched the first and second bombs explode from floor to ceiling windows looking over the Boston Marathon finish line.
A week later she decided to run the next Boston Marathon for all those who no longer could.
Amanda Ravens, a 2006 Falmouth High School graduate and daughter of Falmouth Community Television director Deb Rogers, was working as a fundraiser for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Her office had set up camp in the second floor ballroom of the Mandarin Hotel on Boylston Street, tracking the progress of runners on Spaulding’s fundraising team.
Her memory of that day is not fluid, but she can recall details of certain snippets of time.
“Unfortunately, I had a really good view of the aftermath,” said Ms. Ravens. “I remember the blood, the chaos, the yells, the smoke.”
She said when she heard the first explosion, she attributed the noise to a blown electrical generator somewhere in Back Bay. She didn’t ponder long before the second bomb detonated. Her husband, who accompanied her to work that day, threw her to the ground away from the window. A few seconds later, they grabbed their coats, looking for a safe haven somewhere in the hotel. Hotel staff evacuated the hotel and she, along with her husband and colleagues, were sent out to the chaos of the street. “The next thing I remember is a police officer running toward us, screaming at us to get out of the area.” People were pushing, shoving. There were bags and shoes strewn everywhere, she said. She recalls a steady stream of ambulances, police on motorcycles and can vividly recall the acrid smoke odor. “It was a really disgusting smell.” The group decided the best idea was to evacuate the city center, keeping clear of landmarks and public transportation. Her group walked for hours, and ended up in Charlestown where her father collected her husband and her, and drove them to Falmouth.
A week, later, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel called to say she could pick up her car from the hotel garage. It had been held there as part of the developing investigation. “I am not sure what made me do it, but I laced up my sneakers and decided to run to the hotel. I’ve never been a runner and never enjoyed it.” During the two-mile jog, she grew tired and achy and wanted to quit. She berated herself for being out of shape. At the intersection of Boylston and Berkeley streets, she stopped at a makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons, posters and pictures lying against a barricade. She knelt down and cried.
“I realized how lucky I was that day. I suddenly realized why I was running—I was running for those who no longer could.”
Ms. Ravens qualified for a marathon slot via the Boston Athletic Association, who gave out numbers to people who were “personally and profoundly impacted” by the explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line. The group set aside up to a few hundred additional entries for those who could make their case in a 250-word essay submitted to the organization’s website. “My life changed with that confirmation e-mail.”
There have been times during her year of training—going from running 0 to 26.2 miles—that she temporarily lost motivation and relied on reacquainting herself with her reason for competing. Last month she visited Spaulding’s traumatic brain unit, where many of the injured runners were treated. She witnessed a young man talking into a water bottle, which he believed to be a walky-talky. He was trying to contact his wife, who stepped out for coffee. Ms. Ravens dedicated that weekend’s training runs to him.
“He can’t run a marathon, so I will.”
Since then, she has been training hard and just finished a 21-miler last week. “I didn’t think I could push my body that far. It’s been life changing.”