MINOOKA — He heard the explosions.
First one, and then another approximately 12 seconds later.
Minooka resident Javier Martinez had finished running the Boston Maration for the first time ever and was making use of a changing station at the time. After running with the second wave of participants and finishing with an official time of 3:29.11, then cooling down, he was in need of a change.
“After I finished the race, I picked up my belongings and went to the station,” Martinez said. “It took me a good half-hour to change. After running like that, I was stiff. The body did not want to cooperate. I was in there awhile before I heard the two explosions.”
The two explosions were part of a terrorist attack that marred the April 15 event on Patriots’ Day in Boston.
“Everyone there looked around and was like ‘What was that?’,” Martinez said. “We were looking at each other, and within seconds you could hear ambulances and sirens.”
The tent Martinez was in was east of the finish line by a couple of blocks. He said that nobody knew exactly what the noise was at the time.
“It sounded like cannon-fire, but we didn’t know what it was,” he said.
That fact would change in the minutes after Martinez left the tent.
“I knew something was wrong when I left the tent and saw people running from the area and away from Boyleston Street,” he said. “That’s when I realized something happened. People with bullhorns were telling people to go a secure area. That’s when I made my way to Rick’s place.”
Rick is Morris resident Rick Dudley. He had also run the marathon for the first time. Javier was there to meet up with him and his wife, Jennifer Jones, at the Boston Commons Hotel.
Martinez made his way briskly to Boston Commons, which was a couple blocks away, and made it there right before the location was locked down for safety reasons. Jones made her way downstairs to take Martinez up to the room.
“At that point, things were calm. I didn’t know anything had happened,” Jones said. “He (Martinez) told me about what was happening on the way back up to the room. There we turned the TV on to one of the local news channels.”
Dudley said that Martinez was adamant they turn on the TV to find out exactly what happened.
“Javier’s a pretty calm guy, but he said that we needed to turn on the TV when he got up to our room,” he said. “Luckily he got to our hotel before the lockdown.”
Hours later, after the lockdown had ended, Martinez left Boston Commons and headed toward his hotel in nearby Watertown about six miles away.
“I waited there a few hours. I wanted to wait and let things settle out,” Martinez said. “It was at that time that I let everyone know I was OK.”
Martinez said that, other than the obvious FBI investigation areas, the rest of Boston seemed quite normal after he left.
“A lot of the streets were cordoned off, and there was certainly no access to Boyleston street,” Martinez said. “Otherwise, traffic on the other streets was normal.”
Less than 24 hours later, Martinez flew back to his hometown of Chicago and then to his current home, where he and his family have resided for the past 10 years in Minooka. Only he had never received a reception like the one he got that day.
“It was extremely joyful to be back home,” he said. “There is no better feeling than to be with family after something like that.”
Javier’s wife, Gaby, was there to greet him, along with his daughter, Marisa, 14, and son, Christian, 12.
“When I got home, they came running out to see me,” Martinez said. “It was great. There was a really big welcome home sign in the yard to greet me, too. Later on, I also got a visit from my mother, Maria, and sister, Dori.”
From the safety of his own home, Martinez reflected back on the whole ordeal.
“I’m shocked that something like that could happen at such a major event,” he said. “It’s very shocking. Going through something like this makes you remember to be grateful for the people that love you and the friends that care about you.”
At press time, the culprits — Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, had been identified in the bombings. One was killed during an April 18 incident. Martinez said that bringing those suspects to justice to justice means something.
“It means a lot. People want to feel safe in public locations,” he said. “People shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders to make sure they are safe.”
It’s something Martinez has more than a certain level of confidence about.
“I will run in the race again,” he said. “I will go back to Boston and run again next year. I’m sure there will be a lot more security there next year, though.”