Goss: Boston bombing won’t deter John Prieboy
By Dick Goss email@example.com October 6, 2013 9:46PM
John Prieboy | Supplied photo
Updated: November 8, 2013 6:14AM
John Prieboy understood. Everyone wanted to hear more about the bombing that killed three and injured more than 250 from an eyewitness.
“It frustrated me at first that nobody asked about the race,” he said. “At the same time, I felt really bad for the people who were injured and lost their lives.
“Everyone back home was curious, and every time I told the story I felt the emotions again. It got to the point where it was sickening. I had to stop talking about it. But I’m over it now.”
Prieboy, 24, a Plainfield South and North Central graduate who since has become girls track and field coach and interim girls cross country head coach at Plainfield Central, ran his first Boston Marathon on April 15 — a dream-come-true day until the bombs exploded.
“The race, you can’t describe it,” he said. “There had to be millions of people along the course cheering you on.”
Prieboy finished in a personal-best 2:57.02. That was 1,448th among 26,839 who started.
“My goal was a personal best and to be running strong at the end,” he said. “I looked at my watch at 22 miles and said, ‘I can do this.’ I wanted to run a little faster, but it was a great feeling.”
He and his parents, John and Marsha, were back in the Westin Copley Place hotel, overlooking the finish line, when the first bomb exploded, 13 seconds before the second.
“My room was on the 21st floor,” he said. “I went to the window and saw puffs of smoke. Then I saw the second explosion. I was paralyzed out of fear. My body was hurting from running the marathon. How was I going to get out if I had to? It was surreal.”
Prieboy said the Westin was on lockdown for well over six hours. The next morning, he and his parents were escorted out and reached the airport in time to catch their flight back.
“I was never so happy to step foot at Midway,” he said.
He barely slept the night of April 15 and didn’t sleep well for a few days after that. But the actions of two bombers will not change the role running plays in his life.
“After 9/11, a lot of people didn’t think twice about getting on a plane,” he said. “Runners I talked to said we can’t let these people ruin the experience for good people.”
Prieboy qualified for Boston at the Chicago Marathon in 2011. He did a half-marathon in Racine, Wis., in 2012 and went straight into training for Boston.
A month ago, he competed in Ironman Wisconsin in and around Madison and finished 196th among 2,543 entrants. His time was 11:03:27 for a 2.4-mile swim, 111.8-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.
“I told the kids (at Plainfield Central) I was doing those distances in each discipline and they thought I was crazy,” he said. “But they followed along on the website. They got interested.”
Prieboy took the cross country reins when coach Jenna Krusz had a baby. Prieboy had been a substitute teacher the last year and a half and became a full-time physical education teacher when former girls basketball coach and assistant athletic director Mark Krusz, Jenna’s husband, left to become athletic director at Sandburg.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group to coach,” Prieboy said. “They are there because they love it and try to get personal bests. That’s the philosophy I was raised on with coaches like Jason Crowe (Plainfield South) and Al Carius (North Central).”
Prieboy said a morning run is “like my coffee.” He said Crowe taught him about being a better person through running. He plans to run Boston again, hopefully in 2015, and Chicago again, though not Sunday.
Terrorists will not win.
“There’s always bad people in the world out to do something,” he said. “Now I try to think about all the good people — like all the 60- (to) 70-year-olds doing the ironman and seeing them at 11:57 at night, still going, when they were about to close it down.
“Average, everyday people make running special.”