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SALT LAKE CITY — More than 350 Utahns ran in the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, when twin pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the marathon finish line. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured.
Several Utahns got caught up in the chaos. Cynthia Garcia, who now lives in Chicago, felt the second blast, and will always feel an emotional connection to the bombing.
"This guy is not going to get away with this," she said of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. "And it feels good."
A jury today convicted Tsarnaev of all 30 counts he faced stemming from the bombing.
Garcia was running in her first Boston Marathon that day. The lifelong runner had dreamed of running in that race for years. She feels a lifelong connection to the race, and a sense of pride for the way the community responded then, and today.
"I didn't know what happened," she said. "But I knew it wasn't good."
Garcia had just passed mile marker 26 when the first bomb went off.
"I halted for a bit, thinking, what was that?"
I just remember turning around and running for my life.
–Cynthia Garcia, Boston Marathon runner
At first, she thought it was a cannon, part of the Patriots' Day celebration. So she kept running.
"Then I saw the second one go off. Just to my left," she said.
Only 50 yards away.
"Enough to make an impact," she said. Garcia still feels pain and discomfort in her left ear from time to time that her doctor has linked to the bombing. But she quickly points out that her injury was minor compared to those suffered by many runners.
"There was so much chaos that happened that day and so much bloodiness that I saw," she said.
She will never be able to erase many of those images from her mind. When she realized it was a bomb, bloody people were already running towards her, and she took off.
"I just remember turning around and running for my life," she said.
Hearing the guilty verdict brought a sense of resolution, but also a new wave of emotion.
"I just started crying," Garcia said. "I will never remember that day without tears."
She's more leery and cautious today. She said she's a bit nervous when she goes out in crowds. She spotted a black knapsack when she was in a classroom one day, and could not get it out of her mind, until the owner was identified.
"My antennas are out," she said.
But she's still an avid runner and feels a sense of pride for the way Boston, and the entire country, came together to hold the bombers accountable.
"I do feel empowered," Garcia said. "I feel such community, and I feel such strength that I've never known before."
She draws strength from justice and her bond with those marathon runners and the people of Boston. Garcia received her medal for that race, but went back to truly finish the marathon last year with many others.
"We just keep running," she said. "I really believe that. We're cleaning up, getting it done, and we're going to move on. That's the resolution that I feel."
Garcia is not running in the Boston Marathon next week. She lives in Chicago now, and has a couple of marathons in her sights this year, including the New York City Marathon.
"I feel such community and I feel such strength that I've never known before," she said.