A Madison woman will make her 15th trip to the Boston Marathon this year, but she said this time it will be different.
Mary Tierney first qualified for the famous race in 2000 when she was 47 years old. She has qualified and completed the marathon every year since. The only exception was in 2012 when runners received a bye for heat conditions.
Last year Tierney was ready to make it her final run, but she never made it through the finish line.
In 2013 Tierney made plans to run with her younger sister. The pair took a picture a day before the race and planned to take another one after the race, but they never got the chance.
"We didn’t get it because she finished just before, maybe 20 minutes before the bomb went off, and I was running in," Tierney said.
When the two bombs went off at the finish line, Tierney and other runners came to a stop less than a mile away.
"I thought 'OK, the Red Sox won or something, they're blowing off a cannon.' Then we found out no, it wasn't," she said.
It took two hours before Tierney found her sister and husband safe at their hotel.
"People were very quiet and just kind of reflecting and I thought, ‘Wow, I didn't get hurt. People got killed, and I feel so horrible.' I just thought, ‘Oh, I can't wait to shake this off.' It was hard to shake off. I didn't like to talk about it for long time," Tierney said.
Tierney admitted she was angry at first but remembers the kindness she experienced. She began a healing process when she returned to Madison, part of which included running through a makeshift finish line with other runners. Eventually she decided to run Boston one more time because she believed in finishing on a high note.
At 62 years old Tierney said she is more gracious for peace in her life and has no fear of going back to finish the race she started. However, she was firm to say this will be her very last marathon.
"This year I’m not going to have one thought about my time. I'm just going to totally take it in and enjoy every minute," Tierney said.