Quality time

She is far from the only 1:38er headed to Boston this year. Alex Harsha-Strong, a 28-year-old from Naperville, Ill., ran the Chicago Marathon just fast enough. "It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it," he says. "Whenever I run a marathon again, starting with Boston, I'm going to know how much little things matter." Jenny Wilkes, a 31-year-old from Little Rock, Ark., also finished Chicago right on time. "I guess it gives me hope," she says. "It's made me more thoughtful, to keep going even when it starts to hurt." Wayne Lambert, a 60-year-old from Centennial, Colo., who qualified in Big Cottonwood, Utah, will be running in part to honor a friend struck and killed by a van while training for last year's race. "I know that nothing's forever," he says.

Together they will join Kacie Herrick and 35,996 of their fellow runners on April 21, and their friends and families will stand among the hundreds of thousands of spectators in the grieving, defiant streets of Boston, all of them in their own way flush with the same knowledge: Even in a marathon, every second counts.

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