As she preps for Chicago Marathon, St. Charles runner thinks of Boston
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 10, 2013 5:42PM
Brooke Williams of St. Charles. | Submitted
Updated: November 12, 2013 6:27AM
St. CHARLES — Early Sunday morning, Brooke Williams of St. Charles will be among the 45,000 runners taking to the streets of Chicago, competing in her ninth marathon overall — and with another race still on her mind.
Williams also ran the Boston Marathon on April 15, where three people were killed and hundreds were injured as a result of two bombs left near the finish line by two terrorist brothers.
“My Boston experience was surreal and still feels that way,” Williams said.
Williams said running Boston’s fabled marathon “had been on my bucket list since my teens and that day was very excited to finally get to experience it.
“My husband, Brian, traveled with me and we had made the decision not to bring our children. I am so thankful for that decision as they most likely would have been at the end. I was very lucky to have crossed the finish before the explosions, but on any given day that could have been very different,” Williams said.
That day, the course took its toll on her. So after completing the route, Williams’ husband helped her back to their room at the Marriott Copley, about a block from the finish line.
“Elena Shemyakina from our local running club had won her age group, which was incredible,” Williams said. “So my thinking was that I would shower, hydrate, eat and then head to the award ceremony to see her receive her medal.”
The first blast went off when Williams was in the shower. Then a second exploded as she laid down to rest.
“My husband and I didn’t think too much of it as it was Patriots Day, and it could very well have been something else as part of the celebration,” Williams said.
Williams was texting with a friend, when the friend alerted her of news there were bombs at or near the finish.
“That’s when we saw it on television,” she said. “We rushed over to the other side of our hotel and looked out of the windows to find masses of ambulances and special teams taking action. Dogs were sniffing out garbage cans and cars. People were running in every which way. It was pandemonium. I remember hearing screams coming from people’s rooms. I recall standing there with my husband, looking down at the chaos. All I could think about were our kids. Would we see them again? Would our hotel be next? You just don’t know.”
The bombs went off about four hours into the marathon, and Williams realized there were several friends who could have been in position to finish around that time.
“I quickly heard from all of but one, who may have been minutes, seconds from the explosions and was without a phone. Thankfully, she was OK, but it took her a while before she was able to contact anyone. That was very scary,” Williams said.
It wasn’t until 7 p.m. or so that anyone was allowed out of their hotel rooms or out of the building.
“The hotel put together a buffet which they graciously offered to all guests. The line was long, and I just wanted to get outside,” Williams said.
So Williams and her husband walked for a while looking for something to eat but found that everything was more or less shut down.
“We returned to our hotel and spent the evening with the friends who also stayed at the Marriott Copley,” Williams said. “I have never wanted to get home so quickly. Our week wasn’t exactly a smooth one after that day as our flight home was cancelled, and our basement flooded the next evening. But perspective is a good thing. We were very lucky and elated to be back home with our family.”
Since then, Williams and her son, Luke, took part in a Run for Boston fundraiser held at Geneva Running Outfitters. She also ran in the Fox Valley Marathon in September and intends to take part in the inaugural Naperville Marathon in November.
“It’s important not to let fear dictate how I live my life,” Williams said. “I’m proud of how the running community has come together and made these events more than about lifestyle but also to honor those who were greatly impacted by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon. We won’t stop doing what we love.”
As for Sunday, Williams said, “I can’t wait to run through a great city on a great fall day doing what I love to do most. Well, let’s hope it’s a great fall day.”
And next spring, she will be back in Boston.
“I don’t really think I can justify crossing the Boston Marathon experience off of my bucket list quite yet,” Williams said. “So there’s that, but mostly in support of the Boston Athletic Association, the city and people of Boston and those who suffered as a result of (the) tragedy.”