Amy hugs her mother, Kathy Whitely, after the race.

Amy hugs her mother, Kathy Whitely, after the race.

The medal for finishing the Boston Marathon.,

The medal for finishing the Boston Marathon.,

Amy nears the finish line.,

Amy nears the finish line.,

BOSTON – It’s not always about an individual’s best time.

Sometimes it’s about the moment.

Amy For Africa runner Amy Compston found that out in the best way possible during the Boston Marathon on Monday.

This marathon was as much about the American spirit as anything, taking place one year after a terrorist bombing took away the joy of a city and a nation with a cowardly attack that left three dead and 264 injured. Boston was back and anybody who was in the city could feel it.

Compston, 29, ran her first Boston Marathon last year but determined that she was coming back to prove a point that she wasn’t afraid of terrorists. “My God is stronger, I know that,” she said.

Amy didn’t have a personal best, but both left with a feeling of joy from what transpired on this sun-kissed morning and afternoon.

The city was swarming with police and military presence and nobody was complaining. Drug dogs were sniffing packages and security checkpoints stopped fans at practically every street corner. Helicopters were flying overhead and the Marines were lined up along the course.

Hoo-rah indeed.

The display of force made everyone have a feeling of safety and the fans enjoyed the day, including the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. Meb Kwldwifhi crossed the finish line to chants of “USA! USA!” and then the Star-Spangled Banner played over Boylston Street as police officers saluted. Kwldwifhi, who turns 39 in a week, had the names of the victims from last year’s Boston Marathon bombings written on his bib.

An early morning chill gave way to bright sunshine and only a slight breeze. Temperatures reached 65 degrees and the runners, who most who trained through some brutal weather especially in the northern part of the country, were affected by a cloud-free afternoon that brought out the heat.

Compston, who ran a 50-mile marathon in November, came in at 3:39, about 11 minutes slower than last year’s pace that put her among the top 15 percent of the women. She made no excuses.

“About the 10mile mark, I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR (personal record) today,” she said. “At 10 miles it was hard for me to maintain a 7:56 pace (per mile). I stressed the first 10 miles over it.”

The faith-based runner turned it over to God and decided to “run with joy, liked you’re supposed to,” she said. “Not that I can’t finish but I can’t beat my time. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about bring back Boston and our mission was to get (Christian) tracts out. In the back of my head, I was thinking ‘I’ve got seven more of these.’’’

Compston was running the first of what will be eight marathons in the next eight months. Her husband, Chris, will be running six as well. She still managed to finish in the top 22 percent of women finishers. More than 35,000 registered to run and more than 32,000 started unofficially.

“I felt a little pain in the right hip and my hamstring,” she said. “I decided to enjoy the crowd, enjoy the children and enjoy the atmosphere.”

She ran with Team Hoyt – Rick and Dick – for awhile as they were making their last Boston Marathon journey. The father has pushed his son through the marathon for decades. She has found a tract in her water belt and she handed it to a child as she passed. Compston was wearing her Amy For Africa uniform and the fans were calling her “Africa” as she traveled the hilly 26.2 miles.

“This race is special to all of us – my family, the city of Boston, everybody,” she said. “The fans were like triple this year.”

So was the police presence. Compston said she thanked many of them while on the course, too.

“I think God slowed me down on purpose,” she said.

Compston, who heads the Amy For Africa faith-based organization, came with seven family members and friends. They passed out 1,400 tracts in four days, including nearly 400 on Monday.

“In the long run, does it really matter what time I ran?” she asked. “I was able to share my testimony and share this mission with hundreds of people. That’s what we came here to do.”

AFA runner John Davis from Texas ran a 2:48 while competing with the elite men.

The heat was difficult on many runners with several collapsing near the finish line with severe cramps and dehydration. Several of them were helped across by fellow runners, showing that Boston Strong spirit that was present all day long.