ALPENA - Paulette Bordeau knew daughter-in-law Michelle Green was going to be running in the Boston Marathon. And she began using her iPhone to track bib number 16409 that the gymnastics coach was wearing.
"She started at about 10:45 a.m.," said Bordeau, a credit analyst at Bank of Alpena.
But the amateur racer's pace was off. She hadn't fully recovered from a bout of stomach flu, Bordeau said.
Four hours later, Bordeau knew her daughter-in-law would be nearing the finish line, and that her oldest son, Rick Green, would be waiting for her there.
That's when one of her co-workers walked in and announced there had been an explosion at the finish line. It turned out to be two bombs that killed at least three people and wounded more than 170.
Frightened, Bordeau immediately tried to call and to text Green, who is an Alpena native. But there was no answer.
"I was very scared," Bordeau said. "But I told myself they're fine. I told myself I'd have to have some faith or I wouldn't make it through this."
The next 30 minutes were agonizing, she said.
By chance, Bordeau's daughter, Molly Bordeau, called from Grand Rapids.
"I could tell from her voice she didn't know anything had happened. She's a student teacher," Bordeau said.
So Bordeau told her about the explosion.
"I just said, hey, there was a bombing there," she said.
The two shared their fears and tried to stay positive, eventually hanging up, she said. Then a few minutes later her daughter called back. She said her brother had been able to post on Facebook that he and Michelle were OK. The couple used their phones to notify each other that they were OK. After that, overloaded cell phone lines were shut down.
"Michelle had not crossed the finish line. She was less than a half mile away," Bordeau said.
Rick, however, had been in harm's way for a while.
"He had been at the finish line," Bordeau said. "He was right next to a garbage can at the stand. But there were too many people there so he moved two blocks away."
The couple lives in San Antonio and on Tuesday were attempting to fly home from Boston. But American Airlines had to cancel service because of computer glitches. So the couple was stuck for a while in Dallas.
Rick said when he heard the explosion, he didn't know what it was. Then other people around him started getting text messages that bombs had gone off.
"They immediately blocked it off," Green said, praising the work of firefighters and emergency personnel.
"It's crazy. On a scale of one to something, it wasn't really that terrifying," he said. "We were kind of in the dark. And because I knew she was OK it was more about just trying to get out of there."
Although they had a close brush, Michelle's lingering stomach ailment may have saved their lives, he said.
"It was a good day to have a bad day," he said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.