Aside from sore legs and lungs, Lance Kuehn is OK. His family is OK, too.
But it might be a few weeks before any of them fully understand what happened Monday in Massachusetts.
An Eagan resident and teacher at Rosemount High School, Kuehn, 30, ran the Boston Marathon on Monday with his family cheering him on.
They are still absorbing the shock of what happened, and trying to avoid asking themselves “what if?”
“I had a cramp at mile 22,” Kuehn said. “What if I started to walk?”
Kuehn’s family was waiting by the finish line at the exact spot where one of two explosions took place.
When he turned on Boylston Street Avenue for the last two-tenths of a mile, he saw his family cheering him on. He ran the marathon in 3 hours, 16 minutes, 50 seconds. A good time, especially for a first-timer at Boston.
He cherished the moment, gathered his belongings and told his family to meet him back at the hotel.
Thirty minutes later they were sitting down for lunch. About three blocks away the bombs detonated.
“If sounded like every cop in Boston turned on their sirens,” Kuehn said. “We didn’t know what happened. The restaurant was loud. Someone outside said it sounded like fireworks went off. They turned on the news. Sheer amazement and panic set in. Everybody was on their phone, but we didn’t know they shut down telephone service. I’d get messages, but I couldn’t call people back.”
His mother couldn’t help but wonder about the man she was standing next to while watching the race. His son was still on the course when the Kuehn family left. The crowd was about six deep at that point.
“We couldn’t hear anything but sirens,” Kuehn said. “It was constant sirens. All night. It was hard to sleep.”
Kuehn’s family woke up early the morning of the race to get a viewing spot near the finish line.
“They weren’t let into the area at first because they were doing a dog sweep,” Kuehn said. “They didn’t check their bags or anything, but there was a very thorough check before.”
His brother walked into Marathon Sports a few times to browse while waiting for him to finish.
“He probably walked past that trash can (near one of the explosions) six or seven times,” Kuehn said. “I can’t imagine.”
The day following the race, Kuehn was home, but still quite shaken.
On one hand he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who showed concern.
“A flood of calls came to me,” said Kuehn, who also coaches the Rosemount varsity boys lacrosse team. “The assistant principal sent out an email that I was fine. It was a rush of emotion that so many people cared about me. Sometimes in your life you think no one cares about you or no one cares about each other, but people are helping you, calling you to see if you’re OK. It’s very humbling. It’s very emotional.”
On the other hand, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was trying to hurt him, his family and his peers.
“What does anyone have against marathoners?” Kuehn said. “We never harm anyone. Going out running doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s not against anyone’s religion. It’s not against anyone’s social policy. It’s just people trying to better themselves.”
He couldn’t help but notice the timing of the bombs.
“They set it off when the greatest amount of people were going to finish,” Kuehn said. “They were targeting the biggest group. I just don’t understand.”
Kuehn is inspired by the thought of running the Boston Marathon again.
“Talking with other runners, we want to go back and run again,” Kuehn said. “Whoever did this and whatever their intention, we don’t want to let them stop this.”
The Boston Marathon is one of the more prestigious marathons in the world. Individuals are required to qualify, so for many amateur athletes, it’s their Olympics.
“People work hard to run the qualifying time and prove to themselves they’re a good runner,” Kuehn said. “The only way to do that is to make it to Boston.”
This was Kuehn’s 10th marathon, but his first time at Boston.
During the race, Kuehn said he felt overwhelmed.
“Just the history with this run, the fans along Heartbreak Hill, the statues of the famous people along the course, it’s an amazing atmosphere,” Kuehn said. “You run the same race with the 35 most elite runners in the world taking the same footsteps.
“They can’t take away the memories of what I accomplished. When things do happen like this, we can still get together. We cheer each other on and help each other out. That the mentality of a runner.”