Julie Oh was gunning for the finish line, thinking about what a friend had told her: take off your glasses and fix your hair, so you look good in the picture they take of you as you complete the Boston Marathon.
"I was gunning for that finish line. I was ready to have the best day of my life," said Oh from her home in East Greenwich Monday night.
Then, "I saw the first bomb go off."
There was a huge noise, she said.
"I heard screams. Three guys in front of me flew off the ground. Out of nowhere, there were police everywhere."
All the runners were told to head the other way. Police told the crowds to run the other way too, Oh said.
"We were all running. I was scared to death. I couldn't believe what I saw. It was surreal."
Oh thought the blast had come from a manhole cover. She couldn't help but think of all the manhole covers she'd run over during the race.
"The hearing in my left ear went out," she said. "I'm still coughing from the smoke."
Oh had planned to connect with fellow East Greenwichers Rick and Leigh Del Sesto after the race. She tried calling Rick, who she knew was ahead of her, but calls weren't going through. She texted Rick and reached him.
Leigh was behind Oh and was helped by a woman who lent her some clothing to keep warm. The woman had a friend who was able to give the three of them – Oh and the two Del Sestos – a ride out of the city where Oh's husband met them.
"It was unbelievable," said Oh. "I've never been so scared in my whole life."
Back home with her husband and children – a son, 11, and daughter, 9 – Oh was still in a state of disbelief.
"I am one lucky girl," she said. "It was like a war zone."