An elite Maui runner who competed in her fifth Boston Marathon is still shakened by last week's deadly bombings.
Jen Tom is still trying to make sense of the terror attacks. It's something her family has had to cope with before.
Tom was elated as she raced past the finish line at the Boston Marathon, posting a personal record for the event with a finishing time of three hours and 21 minutes.
"Crossing the finish line was an amazing experience as it always is as a marathon runner," Tom said. "This race is such a sacred event."
But Tom's elation took a sudden turn when she learned of the explosions while returning to her hotel room, knowing her father and boyfriend had been standing where the first bomb exploded earlier in the day.
"Knowing that they were so close to the area in which the first bomb occurred really hits home and is a very emotional thing for me," Tom said.
And it was a very emotional moment for her father, Anthony, as well.
"It really brought back memories of that day being that it was another terrorist attack," Tom said.
That day is Sept.11, 2001. Tom was working at Grand Hyatt in New York that morning. Her older sister, Claudia, was in the second tower at the World Trade Center.
"When the first plane hit, she pretty much just took the elevator down and got out of the building based on instinct I guess and made it out of the building safely," Tom said. "When the towers came down, it was a very emotional day for everybody, especially my parents and our family and friends, because since there was no way to get in contact with any of us."
Thankfully both were safe.
The terror attack in Boston was a chilling reminder of 9/11.
"It was very emotional especially for my father as well -- to have this happen twice, once with each daughter, it definitely was very emotional for him," Tom said.
Like many others, Tom is driven to return to Boston next year.
"There's no doubt about it. I'm 100 percent going to go back in 2014 to run the Boston Marathon again. I think that a lot of people want to run this race in remembrance of what happened," Tom said. "For anybody, even those that weren't directly affected by the bombings, it's definitely brought this country together closer and there's a strong bond now."
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