“I think my face in this first one says it all… so much happiness through the tears!!” says Marisa Blackford while sharing this photo her husband, Brian, took Monday after she finished the Boston Marathon.
Marisa Blackford floated back to her class of first graders at Carterville Elementary School Tuesday still on Cloud 9 less than 24 hours after she’d run the Boston Marathon.
“‘Did you win?’” her students asked. “’You know what, I finished and I had a blast.’”
What the kids couldn’t understand is why this year was so different for Marisa than the first time she went to Boston to run in the marathon 10 years ago.
That, of course, was when two terrorist bombs exploded after the 2013 marathon had started. Although Marisa wasn’t hurt physically the experience stayed with her mentally. In fact, during a run back home that year she got a panic attack at the sound of sirens.
She took a long break from marathons – but not running. She, her husband, Brian, and son, Cooper, added two more sons, Cason and Camden, to their family.
In 2021, she recalls telling Brian, “‘I really want to get back for the 10-year anniversary. I can’t let the one year be the one and only.’”
So she increased her mileage and in September 2022 barely met the qualifying time at a local marathon. She was thankful her older age allowed her to have a slower qualifying time this time.
She’s also thankful for the school district being so supportive. The staff and kids gave her a big sendoff Friday at Carterville Elementary. “My heart was exploding when I left Friday,” she says.
Marisa and Brian arrived at their hotel in Boston that night. That allowed them to be present Saturday morning for an observance at the time the bombs went off on April 15, 2013. There were armed guards at the two memorials where the bombs exploded.
“When we stepped onto Boylston Street (where the finish line is) I got real quiet,” Marisa says. “I got chills and was pretty emotional. I was glad to be part of that.”
Ten years ago, Marisa didn’t come home with any pictures because the experience she’d dreamed of turned out so horribly wrong.
“ This time I recorded everything,” she says.
When asked by other runners if she had run the Boston Marathon before, she’d answer, “Yeah, 10 years ago.” Then she’d get lots more questions.
During the race on Monday, instead of focusing on her time goal, she was thinking, “I want to remember everything and have the time of my life – while running 26 miles.”
She interacted with and fed off the energy of the spectators. “It was so much fun.
“I was proud to be part of Boston Strong.”
Marisa now has two marathon jackets, from 2013 and 2023. She may not get another, but she says she’d like to go back as a race volunteer or even a spectator to relive the experience she had this time.
“It was the slowest marathon that I had done. But I had the time of my life. It was just so different than 10 years ago.
“I was there and I finished – that’s what I’m proud about.”
Victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing were remembered on the 10th anniversary, Saturday, April 15.