After 26.2 miles, Gwenna Neal of Coshocton, Ohio was recovering from her run, fueling up on water, and talking on the phone with her husband. She finished the Boston Marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes - less than half an hour before the first explosion rocked the finish line.
"It got very quiet. Everyone stopped, everyone was just frozen all around, and you could see the smoke," said Neal in a phone interview with WNWO. She says she couldn't comprehend what would have made the shattering sound. "You know, regular people don't know what bombs sound like. We watch movies, but the general public has never been faced with that."
That's when she heard the second bomb.
"We definitely felt it when it went off. It shook you. It shook everything in that part of the city," said Neal. "I can't even explain it. It reverberated from your heart almost. You felt it in your ears."
Phones went down, but Neal eventually met up with her husband. They were quickly ushered into a nearby building.
"It was chaos. People were running, there were cars just bumper to bumper, just trying to get out," said Neal. "You could tell they were very panicked."
Monday evening, she and her husband were left sitting in their hotel room, just above the finish line, unable to leave their building, and still coping with the images of what started out as a triumphant day.
"I would absolutely consider coming back next year, because I'm already qualified for it now, just to make my point that I will not be scared into not doing something that means something to me," said Neal. "I think Americans are a little more tenacious than that. I know for a fact that marathon runners are much more tenacious. You don't run a marathon without having that deep inner strength and mental toughness and nature of perserverance."
As of Monday evening, Neal and her husband were unsure if they would be able to fly home on Tuesday.