April 15, 2013, was supposed to be one of the best days of Dr. Chimene Fikkert's life. The Arlington pediatrician was running in her first Boston Marathon.
"It took me 10 years to qualify to finally run the Boston Marathon," said Fikkert. "I remember coming down Boylston Street thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this is a dream I'm actually getting to live out.'"
Instead it turned into a nightmare that shook her, the City of Boston, and the entire nation to the core. About five minutes after she crossed the finish line, the first bomb went off just several yards from where she was standing.
"I looked over my shoulder and there was a cloud of smoke," said Fikkert. "In the few seconds I was processing that and trying to make sense of it, the second bomb went off. And I realized this was intentional. I just remember thinking I'm really out of control of this situation."
As she reflects on those horrific moments just days before the 2014 Boston Marathon, she said she takes solace in how Boston and the running community have risen above this tragedy.
"I'm certainly praying for safety for all those who are running it," said Fikkert. "But I think it will be a glorious day in Bean Town."
Fikkert said she had every intention of returning to Boston this year and crossing that finish line again – but fell just short of that goal.
Marathon organizers wanted to make sure those who did not get to finish the race last year got that opportunity this year. Coupled with the enormous interest from people wanting to participate in the race, they changed the qualifying times to help control numbers. When that happened, Fikkert no longer had a qualifying time.
"I missed it by three seconds," said Fikkert. "But hopefully I'll be back in 2015."
Though she admits it's bittersweet, she believes race organizers made the right call.
"I'm grateful for the experience I had," said Fikkert. "I want other people to have that experience. I can certainly sit this one out so they can."
Even though she won't physically be in Boston, she said she'll be with the runners in spirit, sending her thoughts and love their way.