When Jennifer Pace reached mile 21 of the 2013 Boston Marathon and saw that neither of her brothers were smiling, she knew something was wrong.
“I thought they would have been cheering,” Pace said. “I could read that something wasn’t right.”
Pace, a PhD student at UConn studying medicinal chemistry, said her brothers told her there had been a bombing at the finish line and they were taking her out of the race.
Pace thought her brothers were lying, that there hadn’t been a bomb. Despite trying to physically remove her, Pace continued running until she reached a barricade at mile 25.
“The runners were on one side of the street and on the other side of the street it was all undercover cops, all black cars that were driving by and ambulances,” Pace said.
It was then Pace realized what she had heard was true, the Boston Marathon had been bombed. Pace said the police were trying to stop people before they even got to mile 25.
“I didn’t know if there were going to be more [bombs],” Pace said. “It was quiet and everyone we walked by was like ‘watch out for the trash barrels’ because that was what they thought the bombs were in at that time.”
Pace said she and her friends did not know where to go next because there was no meeting place.
“We were just walking around the city which was really scary because at that point the phones weren’t working and I couldn’t get in touch with my parents or any of my other friends,” she said.
Pace and her friends stopped at the Northeastern student center to charge their phones and get back in contact with the school and their parents.
Pace’s parents were at the finish line but left to get her Milky Way bars before the bombs went off.
“I didn’t know my parents were OK for like an hour,” Pace said. “But it seemed longer.”
Pace said she didn’t see or hear the bombs go off but had friends that did.
“Some of my other friends were at the finish line and they saw everything,” Pace said. There was a girl that was running with her whose parent was at the finish line and was injured.
Before 2013, Pace was not a long distance runner. There was marathon club at Saint Anselm, where she attended college for her undergraduate degree, and she decided to join.
Pace was just going to run this one marathon. During the race she thought, “I’m never doing this again.”
Despite believing the 2013 race would be her one and only, Pace ran two more marathons: New Jersey and Chicago.
“It’s not like I had to stop because I couldn't do it,” Pace said. “If I finished that day, that would have been it.”
Pace is running the Boston Marathon again this year. This year she took her training more seriously.
“This time around I'm more cautious about doing my runs and following my plans to a tee,” Pace said.
All of Pace’s family and friends want to attend this year’s race but Pace doesn’t want them there.
“If something ever happened to me, that’s on me, it was my decision to run,” Pace said. “...If anything like that ever happens again [and] they were in the wrong place, I would feel terrible.”
Pace said the 2013 Boston Marathon continues to affect her during races.
“When I ran my first marathon after this, I'm always looking around… If there’s a loud noise, I'm a little jumpy,” she said.
Pace said she couldn’t watch the media coverage of the bombings.
“I didn’t see the wreckage until my cousin went into the city a couple days later and took a picture and showed it to me,” Pace said. “It was really emotional, it still is.”
Pace is a little nervous going into this year’s race, she said.
“People have been asking me if I have goals; I just want to finish, I want to cross the finish line, I want my medal, I want everyone to be safe.”
Pace is running under the charity program for the South Shore Health System Foundation as part of Team SSH. Funds raised through her race will support the Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center located in South Weymouth, Mass., and will provide world-class cancer treatment to those on the south shore of Massachusetts. To donate, click here.
Jacqueline Devine is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.