DOWNERS GROVE – Kristin Dement was resting in a medical tent after finishing the Boston Marathon when she heard one of the two bombs explode, though she didn't know what the loud boom was at the time.
The tent was far enough from the explosion that she and others nearby didn't see what happened, but as she started to walk to her hotel, which was in the direction of the attack, she started seeing people walking in the opposite direction, crying, hugging and visibly upset.
"I was just trying to find my husband," the 25-year-old Midwestern University medical student recalled. "He ran it, too. He had finished earlier, we had agreed to meet at a hotel.
I had no idea what was going on, and I heard somebody mention something about bombs. And at that point I was even more worried."
She made it back to the hotel where she saw the initial news coverage playing on a hotel restaurant TV.
The worst thoughts began to creep into her mind, she said, "what if he had gone back to the finish line?" But soon she and her husband Jason Dement were reunited, safely.
"I went down this escalator and he was standing at the windows looking for me," she said. "We pretty much lost it at that point."
At that point, the hotel was placed on lockdown, and rumors of other unexploded bombs began to circulate in the media coverage. The couple's flight that evening was cancelled, but they were able to reschedule for the following morning.
The race was her fifth marathon overall, and her first in Boston. She said she had planned to do the Boston Marathon just once, but the tragedy has given her new motivation.
"Now with all that's happened, my husband and I are really determined to be back for it next year," she said. "We want to show that we're not scared and we are strong. Part of our hearts will always be in Boston because of that."
Dement also organized a run on April 22 in honor of those impacted by the bombing.
More than 50 Midwestern University students and faculty members ran in the event, wearing clothing associated with the city. And members of the Midwestern University community were given blue and gold ribbons – the official colors of this year’s Boston Marathon – prior to the run.
"Setting it up, part of it was selfish on my part," she said. "For me it was a way to kind of heal from it, and show my support in that way. Because the people that were hurt the most were spectators, and those are the people who cheered me on 20 minutes before it happened."