It’s not hard to get lost in the crowd at the Boston Marathon. The race attracts nearly 20,000 runners and half-a-million spectators every year.
But on April 15, 2013, Troy Frazer found his way to the front of the start line, wrestling with a combination of nerves, excitement and determination.
"My foot was on the starting line. I was standing five feet from the guy with the gun with nobody in front of me," he said. "It was like 'wow this is awesome.'"
The 46-year-old Broad Ripple resident admits the adrenalin made him start faster than he should have. But, eventually Frazer found his rhythm.
"I was so caught up in the moment and so full of excitement," he said. "Going through Wellesley College with all the girls there. They've got all kinds of signs and they are cheering and screaming and then you go through Boston College and they've got all the guys with their bands out front just hollering and hooting at you. It's just awesome."
And then about three hours and 20 minutes after Frazer started, he got a glimpse of the finish line.
"When you turn the corner and come down Boylston Street, you feel like a world class athlete," he said. "The streets are filled, people ringing bells, people announcing over the PA, and you are running across that finish line and people are there just to embrace you and give you all kinds of assistance if you need it. It was fantastic."
Troy Frazer completed his first Boston Marathon.
After collecting his thoughts and breath, he walked about a block and half from the finish line to change clothes and recap the accomplishment with friends and other runners.
"I was walking to go get something to eat, so I was still on the street when (the bomb) went off. I turned to a lady who was actually on her cell phone, she was eating outside. I said 'was that a bomb?' She said that her husband was on the other phone, he's at the finish and there was an explosion," said Frazer.
"At that point, I kind of knew there was something going on at the finish."
A second bomb went off about 12 seconds later.
Three people were killed and hundreds were injured. One of those hurt was the husband of one of Frazer’s friends.
It was a moment he can’t forget.
Even a month after returning home, Frazer ‒ who is a sales rep ‒ was standing on the street with a customer when he was reminded of sights and sounds of the terror in Boston.
"There was a big boom across the street somewhere, a dump truck or something, and I jumped," he said. "This person knew that I had ran (Boston) and he grabbed me and he was like 'It's ok. It's ok.'" It was kind of just time getting through some of those different things. (It) took a while."
It’s taken awhile for Kristin Miller to get over the horror, as well, and she wasn’t even in Boston last year. But, she has a deep connection with the Marathon having run it in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Miller didn’t qualify in 2013, but seeing the carnage hit close to home.
On average, she runs the Boston Marathon in 3:45. A slow day could have put her close to four hours, right before the bombs went off.
"Looking back, it was maybe a good thing that we ended up running in 2012 and not coming back because my husband and my daughter, who was seven this year would be somewhere near that finish line," she said. "It's just unreal to think about how things could have been different in so many ways."
And she says her heart breaks for those who were hurt, because they were such an important part of picking her up.
"It was all those spectators that pulled me through Boston in 2012 when it was so hot," she said. "They are the best spectators and fans ever at Boston. That's what makes that race so great, that community in Boston."
Miller wears her blue and gold trimmed Boston Marathon jacket as she joins runners outside of Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse as part of the Indy Runners Club.
They are meeting on the one year anniversary of the bombing and before they go on their hour run, Race Director Terry Townsend gathers the group of about 200 for a moment of reflection to honor the Marathon bombing victims.
"It's almost an irony too terrible to think about," said Townsend. "Folks were standing at the finish line and lost their legs while waiting for others to finish on theirs."
Townsend has run dozens of marathons, but never Boston. But, says the terror attacks 12 months ago touched runners everywhere.
"All of us are connected," he said. "The despicable cowardness that occurred in Boston is something that we have to overcome and we overcome it by solidarity with all members of the running community."
The running community is expected to come out in droves for the 118th Marathon, Monday. Nearly 36,000 are signed up, one of the largest turnouts in race history.
Indianapolis resident Mark Carlson is one of them. He has run Boston four times, but the last time was 17 years ago.
Last year’s tragedy inspired him to return.
"I think there will be renewed excitement about running and about Boston in general and just people saying 'enough is enough' and we are going to continue on with our lives'" he said. "I think it will be festive thing that runners will feed off of the spectators and the spectators will get energy off the runners, as well."
Frazer is going back to Boston, too, a year after being so close to the mayhem.
"I'm a little anxious. I think there will be moments where I'm walking around just enjoying the moment like I did last year and I think there will be moments when I just kind of stop and reflect," he said. "Particularly, some of the pictures I have, it was like 'wow, it was right here a year ago' and I know what happened. So, there will be those times when you are hanging out with friends doing your thing and then there will be those moments when you stop in tracks and reflect."
Frazer may never forget what happened a year ago, but like most, is running to reclaim what the finish line at Boston symbolizes ‒ not terror, but triumph.