With less than a half-mile left of the Boston Marathon, Carol Downing, 58, was giddy with excitement. For a woman who hadn't taken up running until the age of 40, she was proud to be in the "Super Bowl" of all road races. "I was picking up speed, the adrenaline was pumping and the crowd was getting thicker," says Carol, a retired massage therapist. "I couldn't wait to see my family at the finish line." Photo by New York Daily News/Getty.
All of a sudden, "everything just stopped. I hit a wall of runners. Then I heard sirens," says Carol. She didn't hear the bombs go off, but one of them had exploded less than 15 feet from her daughters, Erika Brannock, 30, and Nicole Gross, 32, and Nicole's husband, Michael, 33.
"I remember big flashes of orange and yellow, then I blacked out," says Erika. "When I came to, I smelled burnt metal. I thought, I need to get up, then realized that I couldn't. I closed my eyes and had a conversation with God. I told Him, 'I'm