Before Monday, Tom Hayes had run 22 marathons, eight in Boston, and each year he said his biggest worries were related to his race performance. Would he finish with a good time? Would he hurt himself? Would the weather make the race more difficult?
Never was one of those worries about whether he would make it home safe.
Hayes, trustee and mayor-elect in Arlington Heights, finished his 9th Boston Marathon safely Monday, but soon after he got his medal, he learned others weren't as lucky.
Hayes crossed the finish line at 2:05 p.m., finishing with a time well ahead of the Boston qualifying marker for his age group -- 3:39:25. He was happy with the time and the race, which came less than a week after he finished a long and successful campaign to be the first new mayor of Arlington Heights in 20 years.
After finishing, he planned to get back to his hotel and head to the airport for a flight home in time for retiring Village President Arlene Mulder's last village board meeting.
But just 45 minutes after Hayes crossed the finish line, two bombs went off in an attack that would ultimately kill three people and injure more than 100.
At the time of the blast Hayes said he was still outside, walking to his hotel about a mile from the finish line to pick up his bags, but he didn't hear the explosions. He didn't know about the blasts until he was in the lobby checking out and heard people saying something had happened at the finish line.
By the time he got in a cab to head to Logan International Airport, Hayes said the air was filled with emergency sirens.
"It was very disconcerting that something like that could happen in a public place with so many people," Hayes said.
It wasn't until he sat down on the flight and was able to access Wi-Fi that Hayes started looking at the pictures of what had happened. Although cell service was spotty in Boston, Hayes said he was flooded with messages and calls from people checking that he was OK.
Hayes was met by TV crews when he arrived at O'Hare International Airport but still managed to make it to village hall, finishing what was already a long day with a board meeting that went past 10 p.m.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who retired from the U.S. Army in 2001 as a lieutenant colonel, Hayes said the attack was a reminder that we are living in a post-9/11 world.
"This is something we have to expect now, unfortunately," he said. "We have to be on heightened security all the time."
With Arlington Heights home to several summer outdoor events and the major sporting venue of Arlington Park, Hayes said the impact of Monday's attack is something to consider.
"We do need to increase our awareness with events or large groups of people, as well as on our transportation lines," he said, adding that security is always discussed with officials when planning a major event.
Hayes already is signed up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.
"We can't change what we do on a daily basis or we would bow to what our enemies are trying to do," he said. "We have to go on with our daily lives."