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Bombing survivor feels stronger with time
Denise Spenard, of Manchester, is pictured at Dorrs Pond in Manchester Wednesday afternoon. She is preparing to run this year's Boston Marathon later this month. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
Denise Spenard, second from right, of Manchester, runs with Narri Dowd, left, of Goffstown, Denise's husband, John Spenard, and Muriel Saliba, right, of Hooksett, at Dorrs Pond in Manchester Wednesday afternoon as Denise prepares to run the Boston Marathon later this month. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
This year, she's running the race.
"Because I was an injured victim, I was given the chance to run Boston," she said.
Her first reaction was: No way.
"Then, when I got the official invite, everything changed."
Spenard, who lives in Manchester and works at Easter Seals New Hampshire, has been going to watch the Boston Marathon for years. Sometimes with her husband, John, and sometimes with friends.
Spenard sent a text to her husband: "Now it's getting good."
She doesn't even remember the second explosion. But she felt a pain in her abdomen. "And I looked down and I'm bleeding."
It was a stranger who flagged down a car, and another stranger who drove Spenard and her friend, Christine Lewis of Goffstown, to Massachusetts General Hospital. There, "everything happened so fast. The medics were on me, I was in X-ray."
"They saw so much more trauma come in after me," she said. "I started seeing people coming in with blood everywhere and bandages."
She persuaded doctors to let her have the surgery to remove the shrapnel at Elliot Hospital later that week.
"I was petrified to go back to Boston," she said.
"Just those loud, unexpected noises will get me," she said. "I'm assuming that will go away."
Because they ran out the back, Spenard said, she didn't see a lot of the carnage that day and thinks that may have spared her some emotional trauma.
As a survivor, Spenard got two bibs for this year's marathon; she asked Lewis to take the second one.
"There's just not a day goes by that I don't think about it," she said.
Unlike Spenard, Lewis does remember the second blast that knocked her and her friends to the ground. She remembers seeing Spenard bleeding and thinking she had been shot.
Lewis has never run a marathon before and said she was "horrified" when Spenard first asked her to run Boston with her this year. But it was an opportunity she couldn't turn down.
"I get the chills thinking about the spectators and how amazing they're going to be," Lewis said.
"I'm really excited to move forward in life. Every trauma brings something positive, I believe. You just take these challenges, and it makes you a stronger person."
"I've seen how so many other people were affected."
While so many survivors lost limbs, she's about to run the Boston Marathon. And she's grateful, she said, that "it didn't happen to my kids and it happened only to me."
But she's really excited, too. Three other friends from her running club - Narri Dowd of Goffstown, Muriel Saliba of Hooksett and David Lawrence of Deerfield - will be running, too.
"I'm nervous about that," she conceded. "I'm just so afraid - God forbid something happens - that he doesn't let her out of his sight."
Not going would feel like a kind of surrender, Spenard said. "So now it's like: I'm going back. They didn't win."
Lewis said her husband, Kevin, and 9-year-old son, Braedon, will be following her progress along the 26.2-mile route.
"I would rather them be over there," she said.
She's hoping what she's doing will inspire her son.