I was two blocks past the finish line when the bombs went off. The streets were completely packed; there were hundreds of us runners moving slowly around, trying to get our bags from buses, get food and water, use the restrooms, etc. The first bomb was utterly shocking. We heard the blast and immediately turned around to stare in the direction of the finish line. Then we heard the second blast and saw smoke rising from the finish line. People were saying it must have been a gas line explosion or maybe a fuse blowing from all the electronics at the finish.

You think bomb, but you don't really think it. You don't want your mind to go there. But then the sirens start coming and they never stop. It wasn't until the ambulances and police cars started roaring through, and so many of them, that we knew something was up.

All I wanted to do was find my husband, Mike. I headed to the area designated for runners to meet up with their families after the race. I had to take a long route to get there because streets were being closed off. While walking, I heard a police officer say something about a bomb. That was the first time I felt scared. Now I knew this wasn’t a freak accident.  

It was chaos by then, with police cars, ambulances and fire trucks filling the streets. It took me an hour to get to the meeting area, only to find it had been relocated. Mike – as he told me when I finally found a working cell phone to call him on – had been evacuated. While I was talking to him, another explosion went off. Mike yelled for me to get out of there. Although we didn't know it then it was the police detonating a third device, not another attack.

No cabs were running and transit was shut down. I had no money on me. Eventually, I found a hotel where an employee let me use her cell phone to call Mike again. She suggested I catch a ride out of downtown – and toward my hotel – on their airport shuttle.

On the way, I talked to a doctor who had finished the race, then headed back to the medical tent after the explosions to see if he could help. Neither of us had enough money to pay for the shuttle ride. But when we got to his hotel, he ran in, got his wallet and paid for both of us. I will never forget him for that.  

I’ll never forget the victims, either. I can’t stop thinking about them, because I saw their faces up close for 26 miles. I saw people all along the course who came out to cheer us on for hours and hours. They didn't come just to see the elite runners – they came for everyone, fast and slow. They came for people they knew but, in more cases than not, for people they didn't know. I marveled at that during the race and I still do. The fact that someone would attack a group of people like that is beyond my comprehension.   

I feel lucky to be alive and safe, but incredibly sad for the victims of this horrific act. The tears still come easily. Despite the tragedy at the finish, however, I will always in my head and in my heart, have the memory of those amazing 26 miles and the people of Boston that helped me get through them. No one can take that away from me.