Why they'll run

Plourd guessed someone had suffered a heart attack. Minutes later, a race official informed them there had been an explosion. There were serious casualties and some fatalities.

"For those of you who are feeling better, we need you to leave the tent immediately,'' the official said.

Kate Plourd's mind began racing. An explosion? On the T? Who was injured? Many of her L Street teammates were still on the course. She was supposed to meet her fiancé at Max Brenner Restaurant on 745 Boylston Street following the race.

But now Plourd couldn't get anywhere near Boylston. The streets were cordoned off. She had no phone, and no answers. A sobbing Plourd exited the tent and wandered the streets of Boston looking for a familar face. She was still mildly dehydrated and disoriented. Strangers offered to take her into their brownstone, but she was desperate to locate her friends. She boarded the L Street Runners' bus back to Castle Island in Southie. Someone lent her a phone, but there was no service. For the next 40 minutes, she struggled to suppress her rising panic. Did her fiancé go to the finish line as they discussed? Was the explosion an accident, or something more sinister?

She asked the bus driver to turn on the radio.

"No,'' he said.

Kate Plourd knows how lucky she is. She was uninjured and so were the ones she loved.

In the aftermath, she second-guessed herself whether she should have stayed and offered to help in the medical tent. She's tortured herself with "what ifs,'' including the possibility she and her fiancé could have been steps from the second blast had they made it to Max Brenner.

Plourd, a native of San Diego, had run marathons before and usually took several days off to rest her body. But, after Boston, she hit the pavement the very next morning.

"I don't know how my legs were moving they hurt so badly,'' Plourd said. "But it was so cathartic.''

In the hazy weeks that followed, when her boss from her public relations firm asked her for a monthly memo, she told him, "I don't know if I can give you one. I'm not sure what I've done the past month.''

Plourd has one major regret: cursing the Boston Marathon in her lowest moments of the race last year.

"I kind of want to take that back,'' Plourd said. "I can't even fathom losing a loved one. So many people were injured, lost their legs, and they've all been so positive and so hopeful.

"I kept thinking, 'If they can be this way, then so can I.' I wanted to run Boston again. I needed to run Boston again.''

The BAA gave her an entry number after reading her essay, which eloquently explained while she was not as gravely affected as so many victims, she wished to honor them and offer the closure she is seeking herself.

"I'm so grateful for the fact I can still run,'' she said. "Boston is such a special running community. It always has been, even before what happened last year.''

Kate Plourd is feeling strong again -- Boston Strong. One year has passed, and she can't wait to run the most grueling race she's ever encountered.


Dr. Chase Schumacher, running to honor his patients

The urgent page informed Dr. Chase Schumacher that a patient with serious injuries was en route to Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The patient arrived having suffered a complete traumatic amputation and there was no time to ask a lot of questions.

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