I've been thinking about this over the last day and have some thoughts. Bear with me and most of it isn't running related.
Relatively soon after 9/11, the Bush administration was asked to define "victory" in the war on terror. The answer wasn't simple. Instead, it was removing the ability of terrorist groups to conduct coordinated, trans-national attacks. The second point was turning terrorism into less of a military concern and more of a policing concern. He was blasted from the left and the right as "surrendering" to terrorism because he didn't define "victory" as "defeating terrorism." Due to that political firestorm, he quickly backed away from that definition. He shouldn't have.
What those formulating the policies realized was that you can never stop the determined, intelligent, well trained, lone individual. The key is not to defeat the isolated terrorist but to prevent another coordinated attack like 9/11. Given what we have seen since 9/11, I think one can make a fairly good case that the war on terror has been won. That most emphatically does not mean there will never be other terrorist attacks. Terrorist attacks have been around in one form or another for centuries and it is unlikely they will ever disappear as a tool for certain ideologically minded individuals and groups. However, if you look at the terrorist attacks since 9/11, they have typically been the lone wolf variety. There have been few coordinated attacks in Western countries. Granted, there were a few in the couple of years after 9/11 (in Spain and England) but there haven't been any for a long time. That is due to the increasing level of expertise gained by governmental agencies in their battle against ideologically minded terrorists. Attacks have been interdicted in the planning stages or in the early stages of execution.
Note though that most lone wolf attacks are prevented as well. Lone wolf terrorists are amateurs who tend to make one of a few mistakes. Some will purchase large amounts of supplies at one location. That can tip off the seller that something is out of the ordinary and the seller alerts the authorities. Some will do really stupid shit like the guys who wanted to shoot up Fort Dix a few years ago. They filmed themselves shooting machine guns but they used VHS tapes for the filming and thought it would be cool to have them converted to DVD's. The clerk making the copies alerted the FBI. Others make statements on social media or in internet forums. Regardless, they almost always get caught.
I believe that the attack in Boston, rather than being a lone wolf with sympathies to some organization, was someone who had received sophisticated training. Spending lots of time on internet sites learning how to make bombs out of pressure cookers using nails and ball bearings is the kind of thing that gets you arrested. Whoever built this bomb knew what the hell he was doing. As a retired FBI bomb expert said on NPR this evening, these were sophisticated devices. They were designed to create maximum casualties and they were timed to go off within seconds of each other. You generally don't get that kind of expertise surfing the internet.
What that means is that it may be very difficult to catch this SOB. That doesn't mean we won't but it doesn't mean we will either. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this but it doesn't matter.
I absolutely refuse to let the bastards win. They want to force us to change how we live but we damn well shouldn't. Having just run the Boston marathon, I can say that what makes this race special is less about the course and less about the qualification standards than it is about the unbelievable spectators that turn out for the entire 26.2 mile course. I have never in my life seen anything like it. I must have high fived a thousand kids. I stopped and booggied with one spectator. Nearly every time I stopped to take a picture someone asked if I wanted them to take a picture of me. I kissed plenty of girls at Wellesley College. I was offered beer on several occasions (and accepted twice). The final three miles of the race was absolutely nuts. Just nuts, nuts, nuts.
I want Boston to be run next year. I want to see those tens of thousands of folks out on Patriot Day. I want others to smell the beer for the last few miles. (I doubt I'll ever run another race where beer is the primary odor in the finishing stretch). Boston is to runners what Augusta is to golfers. Running Boston is something that every runner who can, should do once in his or her life. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the world.
I don't want the bastards to win. If the spectators are gone, the bastards win. If runners quit showing up, the bastards win. That's not to say we shouldn't examine what happened and take precautions but the reality is that nothing protects us from everything. Life is full of risks and there is always a chance that someone will plant a bomb at the Boston Marathon or at a local parade or anywhere else in life. But I flat out refuse to change how I live. Not a lick. I'll take my chances and thumb my nose at the bastards. They will not change how I live and I hope they don't change what I think is the most special race on the planet.
Vive la Marathon de Boston (my nod to Lily who damn near beat me).
Short term goal: 17:59 5K
Mid term goal: 2:54:59 marathon
Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life. (I started running at age 45).
I race in SparkleSkirts
Well said, LTH! Glad you are safe!!!
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
Brad, just a few thoughts. Stuff is about to come pouring out of my brain in different forms, but I don't feel like getting in to all of it.
1. I'm glad that you, our other friends, and your families are OK. My first thoughts when this happened was of all of you and your safety.
2. No one who would pull this off and not brag about it later. They will lead us to them one way or another.
3. I'm glad that you, our other friends, and your families are OK.
4. I hope that, before this shit happened, Boston was everything you wanted it to be, and that you have some positive memories to take out of it (seems like you do).
5. I'm glad that you, our other friends, and your families are OK.
6. Thanks for checking in!
Good words man.
Keep up the good fight and the hard work.
”Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
Well said, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Drink up moho's!!
Well said Brad. Well said.
DON'T LET THE FUCKING BASTARD WIN!
I agree with everything you said. I hope the crowds double next year. Something like this can happen any time, any where. We can't live our lives waiting for it. I'm so glad you are safe.
You promised you'd wait for me at the finish line, but you were nowhere to be seen. I looked for you and I was disappointed. So you know what that means, Brad? You'd better make good on your promise to me, next year in Boston.
Excellent commentary. The crowd is amazing, Boston is amazing and the Boston marathon will go on, because we'll make sure of it.
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
4 years racing, 16 marathons, 16 BQs
Well said, Brad. And congratulations on your race.
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
Lily, I've been meaning to ask. I know where your starting corral was and what your time was (big congrats BTW) but how close were you to the blast? You couldn't have missed it by more than a few minutes.
well said LTH. Yes, we cannot let the bastards win.
Just to clarify, happylily and I missed the bombing by more than 50 minutes (she finished 6-7 minutes ahead of me, which is awesome). We were both well away from the finish line by the time it happened. I think she was already back at her Back Bay rental, and I had time to change and was walking near the Boston Common. In fact, I didn't even hear or notice anything until I saw the first of many emergency vehicles rushing by.
I started the race at 10:20 am. plus a few minutes. Would have finished just before 2 pm, give or take. No one was waiting for me (my SIL was back at our condo on Beacon St.). So I quickly retrieved my yellow bag where the parked busses were and I walked home. I had time to fill the bath and was soaking in it when I heard the two blasts. My heart sank, because I had a terrible feeling the noise was not normal. The sirens that followed indicated that I was right, unfortunately.
I have been trying to locate runwell, a forumite here on RA, whom I met at the village before the race. He finished in 4:06, I believe. If you do the math, I think it's cutting very close to the time of the explosions (not sure if he started in the second or third wave). But he did cross the finish line. I'd like to be reassured, though.
BTW, if I finished with such a great PR, it's because of T.O. and his pacing skills. Without him, it wouldn't have happened, I have to be honest.
Glad you're home safe, T.O.! I'm leaving tomorrow by bus. My legs are killing me. Am I the only one? Going to hit the pillow now. Goodnight, guys!
runwell started in the first corral of Wave 3, so yeah, he would have finished just a few minutes before. That's scary.