Catherine McQuade, 20
This was my first time running the marathon. I wasn’t trying to finish in any specific time, I just wanted to finish so that I can tell myself that, when things get difficult, I am a marathon runner and I can get through anything. I ran through countless blizzards and rainstorms, but nothing could have prepared me for this. With my dad by my side, I turned onto Hereford and heard two large booms. We saw police officers on their scanners right away, but assumed that it was just thunder. I looked over to my father and said that I wasn’t going to let thunder stand in the way of finishing the marathon. Within minutes, we came to the turn at Boylston where I saw my best friend climbing over the barricades to cheer me on. But looking ahead, I saw the police blockade at the corner and heard screams that it was a bomb. It all hit me so fast and I ran straight into her arms. My marathon didn’t end, though—I will run again next year, and crossing that finish line will mean more than I could have ever imagined.