FORT WORTH, Texas -- After a dozen attempts, Jennifer McAlister couldn't have been more thrilled to finally qualify for the famous Boston Marathon in 2013.
As she rounded her final turn on that Monday, though, and set her sights on the finish line, thrill turned to horror.
"First, I saw the explosion but couldn't tell what it was," she said. "I kept running. Then, the building in front of me explodes. I stopped. There was a police officer standing there, and he had fear in his eyes."
Panic gripped the finish line as thousands of competitors and fans tried to escape the aftermath of two terrorist explosions.
Jennifer was approaching her final tenth of a mile when the bombs detonated.
"I really felt like I was watching a movie. How could it be real," she said in an interview with WFAA this week.
She ended up pushed into a motel lobby for hours.
She had no cell phone and was worried about her husband, who was supposed to be right in front of the building.
"Fortunately, he had gotten stuck in traffic," she said.
This year, organizers honored those that lost their lives and were injured on the five-year anniversary of the blast.
Unlike that Monday, 2018 proved cold and very rainy for participants.
EJ Gonzalez said it was "raining cats and dogs" during different parts of the race. He still qualified for next year's event with a finish time of just over three hours.
Jennifer also has returned to Boston since the day of the attack, joining many other survivors in 2014.
She says the close call has inspired her to live every day like it could be her last, and also write a book of faith called Press On.
"Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to call. Don't let the urgent get in the way of the important because you never know when a bomb is going to blow."