Running down Beacon towards Kendall, I was sure I would really make it…

The 2013 Boston Marathon was my first marathon.

I got a bib at the last minute (about a month before) to run on the Team with a Vision, which supports the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. Luckily, I had been in training mode since December for a marathon that I didn’t make. Before Boston 2013, the longest race I had ever run was the 2012 Austin Half Marathon.

I was so nervous the morning of the marathon. All of my energy and focus was on finishing. I wanted to go as slow and steady as possible, I wanted to really enjoy the run and pass through the finish line.

Gathering at the Ciao Time Restaurant, corner of Main & Walcott in Hopkinton

The day was beautiful. I had friends waiting for me along the way and my family was tracking me on the BAA app. I was nervous, but feeling good throughout my run. My favorite spot was the Wellesley girls, their energy gave me a second boost. I remember running down Beacon towards Kendall and feeling like I was sure I would really make it. I passed the corner, heading towards Audubon Circle, and I high-fived a few BU friends.

As I neared the turn right before the underpass on Beacon Street, a friend joined me to show support. Then, in front of me, runners were sitting and standing on the course. I was confused. My initial thought was a runner was injured and I thought I would be bypassing the group. But then everyone was saying a bomb had gone off at the finish line.

Immediately I texted my mom to let her know I was OK, and luckily it went through; most other incoming and outgoing texts were dropped. Mom hadn’t heard the news yet, and responded something along the lines of “Following you on the app, call me at the finish line!”

My biggest fear when I started the race was that I wouldn’t finish, but I never could have imagined that I wouldn’t have finished due to the events that unfolded that afternoon. Luckily, everyone I knew was safe. My team members were either where I was or had already passed the finish line. The next hours and days were surreal. I was simultaneously shocked and saddened by the events, and also so proud of myself for running a marathon.

Later, when the BAA announced that any runners who didn’t get to finish would get an automatic 2014 entry, I knew I had to do it again. So this year, I am running the 2014 Boston Marathon. I feel so lucky to have this second chance to cross the Boston finish line.

If anyone is interested in donating to the MAB, here is some information on my fundraising page:

I’m running the 2014 Boston Marathon on the Team with a Vision in support of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind (MAB), the oldest social service agency in the country providing services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. This is my second year running with the team, and with your support I hope to cross the finish line. Please support me by making a donation today. Here’s the link. It’s really fast and easy:

Thank you so much!!

Leah Dickerson
Allston, MA
April 21, 2014
Age – 28
Bib # 32668