Student recalls experience at Boston Marathon

Posted on: May 08, 2013

Thrilled to be running “the Super Bowl of marathons,” Al West set a personal best at the Boston Marathon: 3 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds.
 
“The roar was just deafening. You could hear nothing but support. People were screaming your number and name,” said West. “The atmosphere was so vibrant, so alive.”

On the subway home with his family, his celebration was quickly cut short with news of an explosion at the finish line he’d recently crossed.
 
“We missed it by ten minutes,” he said. “I was in disbelief because we just left there. I ran right past those bleachers. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Were those bombs there when I was running by?’”
 
Safely home, he realizes their good fortune and empathizes with Boston residents.
 
“The people of Boston were wonderful. It was a big town with a small-town attitude,” he said.
 
The marathon had been West’s goal for the last three years—it was his eighth and first nonlocal marathon. A determined runner logging 55-80 miles each week, he hasn’t always been this active.
 
“I couldn’t even run three miles five years ago,” the 41-year-old said. “I started cycling and made up my mind to (run). I can’t do anything small. About three years ago, I made up my mind I wanted to run the Boston Marathon.”
 
By day, the Texas City runner is a project manager for Hewlett Packard. In his off hours, he’s hitting the pavement.
 
“It’s not so much a physical thing, but a character thing. (After that), everything you do, you know you can achieve it. I really attribute that to running,” said West.
 
One way he’s using the confidence running gave him is in applying for College of Mainland’s Associate Degree Nursing Program. This semester he’s taking prerequisites—medical terminology, microbiology and lifespan biology—in preparation for a field he hopes will give him more consistent hours. His current job requires international phone calls often scheduled at 10 p.m. or 2 a.m., sometimes in the same night.
 
“It’s time for a change. There’s so many more options (in nursing),” he said. Plus, “at the end of the day, you’re doing a good thing. You’re helping other people.”
 
 Now that some of the adrenaline has subsided, he’s had time to ponder his running plans for next year.
 
“I’m not going to have anybody tell me what I can or can’t do, especially cowards,” West said. “I’m definitely going to run next year.”


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