Locals who ran or watched Boston Marathon return with far different stories than they imagined

TAMPA - Bay area runners and spectators of the Boston Marathon started to return home Tuesday. Many knew they would come home with a story to share, but it wasn't the one they imagined.

Many runners were still in a state of shock.

Michelle Thames' life-long goal was to run the Boston Marathon.  She crossed the finish line about 30 minutes before the first explosion.

"I especially was panicked because I was so separate from my family, and had no way to get in touch with them," she said, with her voice shaking.

Her family and husband, Brandon, weren't far from the finish line. They spent the next half-hour frantically searching and thinking the worst.

"It was horrifying.  It was the worst feeling I have ever had," Brandon said.  "It was terrible."

Michelle eventually managed to borrow a cell phone and reconnect with her family.

Later, they snapped a few pictures from their hotel room, showing a clear view of the destruction.

"It just keeps replaying in my head," Brandon said.

Dr. Bruce Shephard of Tampa was on mile marker 26 when the first bomb went off.

"It sounded like the Bucs' cannon on a touchdown, except 10 times louder," he said.

With his legs trembling, adrenaline pumping, and the finish line in sight, Shephard kept running until the second one blew about 12 seconds later.

"I was probably 150 yards from the second one when that one went off," he said. "I was scared."

He turned around and ran straight into a furniture store and hid for about ten minutes before heading back out to look for his long-time girlfriend, Colleen Christensen.

"It was just so amazing to see everybody lying on the ground," she said.

Christensen thought he had already finished, so she returned to their hotel room just as the bombs went off.

She took dramatic video from the hotel room that overlooked the scene of the explosions. She prayed her loved one was not among the injured.

About two hours later, she learned from his kids that he was okay.

"They all got a hold of me to let me know," she said, while tearing up. "I was going to the medical tents and was doing everything because it was so hard to get around. Police just kept pushing us back and pushing us back and pushing us back."

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