Lee Ann Yanni is a physical therapist living in Orlando, Fla.
During the Boston Marathon in 2013, I was with my husband at the finish line, watching for my physical-therapy patient to finish the race. Four or five minutes after she ran by, the first explosion happened.
I’m originally from Florida, and I’ve lived in Orlando, so my first thought was, “Fireworks.” I felt something warm brush my leg, and I saw my bone sticking out. Ten seconds later the second explosion happened. I remember trying to put weight on my foot, but I couldn’t, so I hopped into Marathon Sports. It felt like there was a hose attached to the back of my leg, and blood was poring into my shoe.
I had never run a marathon before, but while I was sitting there, I was thinking about my plans to do the Chicago Marathon that October in honor of my father, who had passed away the previous October. I thought to myself, “It’s just my fibula, I’ll be fine. I’ll make it through.” I came to find out that I had to have two muscles removed and a skin graft.
As a physical therapist, recovery was miserable. It was hard because I knew what I had to do. To know what I was up against, and the rehab, and how long it was going to take was definitely frustrating. Now I tell my patients, “You have to take it day by day, because if you look at the end game, it’s going to be a longer road.”
I only had about five and a half weeks of training before the Chicago marathon. I like to say, “I put Duct tape on it and just made it happen.” I pushed through and did the marathon. As a physical therapist, I would never recommend doing that. But I did it because I’m stubborn. It wasn’t just a race. It was for my dad.
Afterwards, I went right back into training for the Boston Marathon. I was a lot stronger for the 2014 race, but it was still a struggle. That day, I was anxious with all the military presence. Before the race I remember that I had to go to Marathon Sports to buy something, and I hadn’t expected to see the bleachers, and all of a sudden I saw them and almost had a panic attack. It was the first time I’d seen it look like the scene of the crime.
My goal for running last year was to say thank you to Boston, thank you to all the supports and the caretakers and the city as a whole. We were able to get our finish line back. This year, I’m looking forward to getting back to Boston after moving back to Florida last August. I’m very excited to go see my other family, the members of the 4.15 Strong running group.
I worked really hard. I feel stronger. I feel better than I did last year. And I’m really going to go all out. Last year was for them; this year is for me.
TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.