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Boston Marathon Runner: 'I Just Couldn’t Fathom What Was Going On.'

Fredericksburg runner Lisa Baxter and her family recount their experience Monday at the Boston Marathon.

Editor's Note: On Monday I reported the Boston Marathon results for the runners from Fredericksburg.  Lisa Baxter's splits were recorded through 40K, but she did not pass the finish line, according to the results posted by the Boston Athletic Association.  Lisa and Don Baxter saw the article and emailed their story, which follows. -Susan

"My name is Don Baxter. My wife forwarded a link to your story and I wanted to provide some additional insight. Lisa was running the Boston Marathon on Monday and had just crossed over Heartbreak Hill (mile 21) when the first explosion was a set off.

"I was in Boston with my son, Bryce, and Lisa's two sisters and their families -- who all live in the Boston area -- awaiting her arrival on Boylston Street. We were directly behind the Boston Library near the finish line medical tents when the explosions went off. No one in our group was injured, but we were close enough to hear the explosions very clearly.

"I wanted to write you to confirm that Lisa was not able to complete the marathon, as they prevented runners still on the course from continuing. Your article has Lisa's last 40K split (just about the 25 mile mark) as her last official time, but I wanted to tell you what happened as Lisa got closer to the finish.

"After making sure our group was all safe -- there were 10 of us at several points converging on a common viewing spot to see Lisa finish -- four of us began walking back up the course to find Lisa and tell her what had happened. The runners were blocked on Commonwealth Avenue, just before going under the Massachusetts Avenue overpass. Race officials created a barricade there to prevent runners from going any further.

"At that point, the four of us started walking back up the course. We saw Lisa at the 25.7 mile mark and she was shocked to see spectators on the course; she was certainly not planning to see us. She gave us a quizzical look and asked what was happening. We told her about the explosion and the fact that less than a quarter mile further she would not be able to go any farther. Lisa looked at her Garmin watch and told us she had .5 miles to go and she was running a marathon today. At that point she continued running past us and found several back streets that were not blocked to complete the full 26.2 distance.

"While certainly not an official Boston Marathon time with a finish on Boylston Street, she did run a marathon in 5:11:06. She grew up in Boston and, although she has completed three previous marathons, this was her first Boston. She was having a great run and was a little faster than her projected finish time.

"A co-worker of hers sent the link to your article to her. I thought you might want to know what happened to Lisa as the impact of this terrible event spread through the city. As a marathon runner myself, you get so focused on finishing as you get close to the end of the marathon and even more so with the famous finish line for Boston, that nothing will get in your way. Lisa is living proof of that -- plus the fact that she is from Boston herself!

"As a footnote -- after we returned home on Tuesday, Lisa promptly registered for the Marine Corps Half marathon, and this experience will not prevent her from running Boston again. Thanks for covering the local finishers on your site."

Don Baxter

"Don captured the end of my Boston Marathon perfectly.   The entire experience was very humbling and, although saddened at not being able to cross the finish line in Boston, I am devastated at the losses so many suffered in my hometown.  The people of Boston are amazing and I am proud to say I am from there.

"As I approached Boston on the course, I had no idea what was happening. Everyone was still running and I was just so focused in on reaching the finish.

"Once I passed the 25-mile mark, I realized I was going to make it.  When I saw my family, I was so confused and did not understand the enormity of the situation.  All I said to myself was, “I am running 26.2 miles today.”  It seems strange to me now, but in the moment I was determined. 

"I just couldn’t fathom what was going on.  This was my fifth [marathon] and what was to be my final marathon.  Now I know it will not be my last marathon –- if I get the chance I will definitely run Boston again."

Lisa Baxter

For more on this story, see: Ongoing Coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombing

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Mrs. P. Shippee April 19, 2013 at 05:15 PM
So proud of your spirit, Lisa, and your super family. We were thinking of you all on that day. Patty Shippee
Gatekeeper April 19, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I just read your story I admire your motivation to finish and the support of your family. I also thank God that you and your family are safe.
Gatekeeper April 19, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I just read your story I admire your motivation to finish and the support of your family. I also thank God that you and your family are safe. SemperFi

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