By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Apr 15, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Trenni Kusnierek, a former Milwaukee TV and radio sports reporter and host, now calls Boston her home. This afternoon, she stood where both explosions rocked the Boston marathon, but just minutes before.

In fact, Kusnierek was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon today, but injuries sidelined her plan. Instead, she watched from the sidelines, rooting on her running partner from Milwaukee.

Because her friend was so fast – she set a personal record in today’s marathon – the group walked to a bar nearby the finish line to celebrate and missed the explosions. She didn’t hear either blast, but when she started receiving a slew of calls, text messages and tweets, she knew something was horribly wrong.

Then she stepped outside.

"People were just stunned," Kusnierek said by phone tonight. "No one had really understood what had happened at that point. We didn’t know how many injuries or casualties there were."

What she did know was that the T, Boston’s subway system, was shut down immediately. Kusnierek, her boyfriend, her running partner and her husband had to walk home to her North End neighborhood. That’s where she saw so many stunned Bostonians, wandering in shared confusion.

"I was looking left and right, and so was everyone else, looking at their phones, over their shoulders," she said. "There was a lot of anxiety."

Kusnierek didn’t have much luck making and receiving cell phone calls immediately after the explosions. In fact, there was a brief time before friends and families knew she was OK.

Had Kusnierek run the marathon on this beautiful, ideal day, she would have finished a long time before the explosions rocked the finish line. However, in poor weather like last year, she would’ve literally finished within five minutes of the explosion.

How quickly did Kusnierek think, "That could’ve been me?"

"Oh, immediately. We stood on the corner right where the second bomb went off, but 20 minutes before. We walked past all of that. Minutes prior. I shopped at Marathon Sports shop, where the windows were blown out. That’s where I get my shoes."

Kusnierek, who now works at Comcast Sportsnet New England, didn’t have to spring into action for her job, but she expects she will – and her reporter instincts kicked in when she understood what was unfolding.

"When people were coming in from outside, I was interviewing them, asking questions, because I was thinking I’d have to talk about it," she said. "We didn’t know if it was a bomb or a gas leak explosion or terror related."

Quickly, however, it became clear what had happened. Her boyfriend, who grew up in Dublin and had seen enough IRA bombs explode in person, convinced Kusnierek that this was no accident.

Of course, Kusnierek admitted that the gravity of the situation hasn’t kicked in yet, but as a marathon runner and as a sports reporter, she said she feels a bond with the killed and injured today.

"There’s already sort of a bond of athletes of any sport, but particularly niche sports. I wondered if I knew anyone, runners or media. There were a lot of reporters for the host TV station that I know. For me, on two levels, it felt like family."

Tonight, Kusnierek said Boston looks ... different.

"Especially because I live here. I wonder how I’d feel if I was visiting, if I had someone to go to. I choose to stay. I love it here."

"Boston is certainly empty," she continued. "We walked right into a pizza place tonight, one of the most famous pizza places in Boston. Normally there’s a line out the door and down the block. Tonight we went right in. But the guy who runs the place said, ‘Yeah, it’s a little different this year.’"

Different, yes. Unreal, for sure. Kusnierek said that the calls and texts from friends have kept her busy – she’s choked up a few times – but it still doesn’t feel real.

"I wonder if when I’m lying in bed, I might cry. Or when I’m walking to or from work. Can it happen again? Will it happen again? It’s kind of happened twice in Boston, because one of the planes in 9/11 took off from Logan. And now we’ve had this."

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.