What A Running Coach Says To His Team The Day After A Tragedy

Image of Mac Allen from shoulders up. He is wearing a bright blue tank. It's early morning so the moon is setting behind his right shoulder. His is looking directly at the camera and smiling.

Mac Allen, coach of Team Mac.

Earlier today at Shakesville, I wrote a piece about being a spectator at many of my husband’s marathons over the last 11 years. In that piece I mentioned the running group with which he trains four days of the week. That running group is Team Mac (aka tmMac) and the coach of the team is Mac Allen, a Texan and a long-time resident of Austin, TX, and accomplished long-distance runner.

Mac and a handful of the members of tmMac were in Boston yesterday to run the marathon. Luckily all of them and any family or friends with them were not injured in the explosions.

Today, Mac sent the group an email from Boston and after reading it, I asked him if I could post it here. He gave me permission.

Here is what a running coach says to his team the day after a tragedy (I have left out identifying names since Mac is the only person I got direct permission from to publish this):

Hi teammac,

First, let me thank everyone for the outpouring of support for tmBOSTON, both in terms of congratulations on our race effort and concern after the bombing attacks. I apologize for my delay in responding to your messages. Cell phone usage and texting were limited due to high usage in the area. Also, we heard that cell phones were shut down because of the possibility of phones being used to detonate bombs.

The team ran extremely well, and we all finished in the second wave within 15 minutes of each other…congrats to the women’s team for 29th place finish in the open women’s team category. [Runner] was in the 1st wave and ran 3:08. There was a cool headwind blowing in the last 4 miles that became cold once we stopped running. This may have been a godsend as we didn’t hang around at the finish, and we got our bags and got out of the area. teammom, who in years past has watched the finish from the location of the 1st bomb, decided not to fight the crowds this year and watched the race on tv. We were all out of the area twenty minutes before the bombs went off.

We began congregating in the lobby of the Park Plaza Hotel. Shortly after getting there, a spectator was telling us with an ashen look on her face that there had been explosions at the finish line. I thought it was maybe utility or gas line explosions, but [Runner’s] friend had also heard the news and said she had heard it was bombs. I went up to the front desk, and they had just been informed of the same thing and turned on the television sets in the lobby for us to follow the news as it was breaking. We then started accounting for everyone, and the only ones not in from the area were [Runner] and [Runner]. They shortly arrived, and it was comforting to know we were all ok so soon after the word of the bombing.

The rest of the afternoon we spent, much like many of you I imagine, watching the news and trying to contact friends and family. The word was everyone should stay in your hotel rooms and away from large crowds. Supposedly, a couple of other bombs had been found before they detonated, and a small fire had occurred at the JFK Library, originally reported as a bomb. We had dinner at Durgin Park, but the restaurant was near empty and the town was very quiet.

We will come back to Austin in the next day or two and are looking forward to seeing everyone and reuniting with you after this tragedy. Your thoughts and messages helped us get through the day and are very much appreciated.

This event stunned Boston and the running community.  This one hit close to home.  Many of us have been on that sidewalk by the finish line many times, and in fact we were just there on Sunday by the Dunkin’ Donuts, Marathon Sports, etc. The finish area is a sign of joy and accomplishment and some of the largest and loudest crowds in road racing. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.  I spoke to [Runner who is involved in putting on a large race in Austin each year] about how this may affect finish line security, but terrorists will always find a way to terrorize. The response I have seen looks like runners are rising above the lowly attacks, and people may be stronger than terrorists think. I welcome others thoughts on this and look forward to seeing some race reports as well.

See you thurs morning,