(CBS) — An Aurora couple’s first reaction after the explosions at the Boston Marathon was to find each other.

A Lakeview man, meanwhile, saw the destruction firsthand.

They’re among the Chicago-area residents who had traveled to Boston this week to be a part of the prestigious running event. Instead, they became witness to horror.

Steven Mayer, who was there to cheer on his wife, Jamie, told WBBM Newsradio he heard an explosion that sounded like lightning.

“It hit next to me,  the ground shook a little bit,” he says.

Jamie Mayer, who runs with Naperville-based Experience Triathlon had just crossed the finish line Monday afternoon when she heard the blast.

“No one was panicking quite yet, no one knew exactly what it was,” she recalls. “My husband was much closer and called me panicking, saying, ‘Get out, something bad has happened,’ and then I knew.”

The Mayers found each other.

Runner Eric Giandelone of Lakeview was also near the blasts. He described what happened afterward.

“I saw about four to six people, I can’t be sure of the numbers at this point, laying on the ground,” he tells CBS 2. “I saw a guy carrying a woman who had no foot.”

Another runner from Chicago described National Guard members in full battle gear near his hotel in downtown Boston Monday.