She did it! Natalie Morales finishes Boston Marathon

TODAY

Natalie Morales is officially "Boston Strong." 

Morales completed Monday's Boston Marathon — the first since last year's bombings — in a time of 3 hours, 34 minutes and 45 seconds to help raise money for some very special causes.

"Thank+you+to+all+the+supporters+for+the+love+and+good+cheer+that+got+me+through"+-@NMoralesNBC+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonStrong

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+


NBC Universal Sports Network
Natalie Morales crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

She crossed the finish line at 2 p.m. ET, arms raised in her pink "Corcoran Strong" shirt in support of bombing victim Celeste Corcoran, who had both legs amputated as a result of the blast. 

.@nmoralesnbc+looking+great+after+finishing+#BostonMarathon!+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonStrong+pic.twitter.com/zC7PkrvOCi

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

.@NMoralesNBC+finished+the+#BostonMarathon+with+a+time+of+3:34:45.+Amazing.+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonStrong

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

"I'm feeling good, and I know that the crowd and the support along the way is going to get me through, and of course the emotions of today I think are just going to push me through that extra couple of miles at the end,'' she said on TODAY Monday in anticipation of the race. 

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Some last-minute support!

The excitement continued to build with the start of the race drawing closer. 

.@NMoralesNBC+all+smiles+at+start+of+#BostonMarathon.+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonStrong+pic.twitter.com/ZqqOEpBgKH

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

"I know it's going to be really emotional,'' she told Matt Lauer later in the morning on TODAY. "It's going to be a hard 26.2 miles, but...I know it's going to be an incredible event. I can't wait to be a part of it." 

.@nmorales+has+got+her+coffee!+Only+a+few+hours+to+go+before+#BostonMarathon.+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonStrong+pic.twitter.com/HBhAsW3xgV

—+TODAY++(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

Ready+for+#BostonMarathon!+I'll+be+the+one+in+bright+orange.+How+do+you+like+that+#OrangeRoom?+#GoNatalieGo+pic.twitter.com/F8oLyYTWlk

—+Natalie+Morales+(@NMoralesNBC)+April+21,+2014+

Last+minute+prep+for+@NMoralesNBC!+She's+getting+ready+to+run+the+Boston+Marathon,+wish+her+luck!+#GoNatalieGo+pic.twitter.com/edPfPy6kL9

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

If+there's+one+person+I+know+who+has+the+heart,+passion+and+tolerance+for+pain+to+do+Boston+marathon,+it's+@NMoralesNBC!+#GoNatalieGo

—+Savannah+Guthrie+(@SavannahGuthrie)+April+21,+2014+

Morales has been particularly inspired by a victim of the bombing and her family. She was joined on TODAY before the race by Carmen Acabbo, Corcoran's sister. Corcoran's daughter Sydney, a college freshman, also had to endure multiple leg surgeries after being injured in the blast. 

The Corcorans, along with Celeste's husband, Kevin, were cheering on Acabbo in last year's race when the bomb went off. They are hoping to erase that memory with a positive one on Monday. Acabbo and Morales both wore pink shirts with the words "Corcoran Strong" during the race. 

.@NMoralesNBC+&+Carmen+Acabbo+will+be+running+"Corcoran+Strong"+in+honor+of+Celeste+&+Sydney+Corcoran.+#GoNatalieGo+pic.twitter.com/Tro4mJB6c2

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+April+21,+2014+

Good+Luck+to+all+in+Boston+today!+What+a+day!+#healing+#BostonStrong+#BostonMarathon+#GoNatalieGo

—+Sharon+Blair+Scott+(@allscott12)+April+21,+2014+

Good+luck+to+@NMoralesNBC+today!+#GoNatalieGo+#BostonMarathon+#CorcoranStrong+#BostonStrong

—+Cory+Stitham+(@cstitham478)+April+21,+2014+

#GoNatalieGo+@NMoralesNBC+pound+that+pavement!+thank+you+for+making+us+all+so+proud!+My+city+thanks+you!

—+Katrina+(@kpeppermints)+April+21,+2014+


"I'm so happy to be here today,'' Acabbo told Morales. "I'm ready to run. I've had so much support, it's unbelievable. I can't wait." 

Acabbo had reached the 26-mile mark in last year's race when the first explosion occurred. On Monday, Celeste Corcoran was expected to join her at that exact spot and run the final two-tenths of a mile on her prosthetic legs with Acabbo to the finish. 

"I think she's looking forward to the finish,'' Acabbo said about her sister. "There's definitely anxiety around this whole situation, but as a family, we're just looking forward to crossing together. I hope we can just do it. I think it's just going to be unbelievable. It's going to be such a special moment of closure for us to just finally say that we're crossing this together." 

The sisters will be part of a field that will feature 36,000 participants along with a million spectators in the 118th running of the marathon, which will have 9,000 more runners than usual. A beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60s is expected. 

"As you can imagine, people are just gearing up, getting ready for the race of a lifetime, (with) many saying this is a time to take the marathon back and to prove to the world what it means to be 'Boston Strong,''' Morales said. "For many of the runners here, emotions and spirits are high. Many (are) saying they're looking forward to creating new memories and putting the tragic events of last year behind them." 

The largest and most advanced security presence in the marathon's history was also on hand, including 3,500 law enforcement officers—twice as many as last year. There were 40 checkpoints in Boston alone and more than 100 security cameras along the route feeding back to the mobile command center for the Massachusetts State Police. 

"The technology is newer in here," Col. Timothy P. Alben, Massachusetts State Police superintendent, told Morales. "The capability is obviously better. The communications are seamless." 

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who has completed the marathon 18 times, was also looking forward to a special day before the race began.

"My heart and soul is into this race,'' he said on TODAY. "It always has been, and that's why it's so important that we come back and show how resilient we are and how strong this city is." 

You can show your support for Natalie, as well as all the runners, using the hashtags #GoNatalieGo and #BostonStrong.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America

    Image: 2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon

    Boston Strong: Showing support at the Boston Marathon

    The 118th Boston Marathon was filled with pride, love and solidarity; here are some of those moments during the race.

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    Boston Strong: Showing support at the Boston Marathon -

    The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings shook the nation, but the outcry of love and support for the city and its runners has been stronger than ever before. People from all over rallied to cheer on the participants at the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014. Through banners, flags, and face paint, the feeling of "Boston Strong" was unmistakable.

    A runner with a temporary Boston Marathon tattoo gets ready to run.

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    Banner held high -

    A father and son wave a "Boston Strong" flag as they look on from the starting line of the Boston Marathon.

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    Heartfelt -

    Runners place their hands over their hearts in solidarity as the National Anthem plays at the beginning of the Marathon.

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    High five -

    A runner and a bystander give each other a high five during the race.

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    Good luck! -

    Andrea Prusinski, left, hugs friend and runner Karen Schroeder before boarding the bus to the starting line of the 118th Boston Marathon.

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    Spirits high -

    Runners gather with pride and anticipation as they wait for the start gun in Hopkinton, Mass.

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    Comrade in arms -

    Runner Renee Chouinard of Stouffville, Canada, has the word "Boston" written on her arm while she waits for the start of the race.

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    Sendoff -

    Susana Cor, of Equador cheers with her family as buses leave Boston for the starting line of the race.

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    Hand of friendship -

    A runner in the 118th Boston Marathon shakes the hand of a spectator holding American flags as runners' busses arrive in Hopkinton.

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    Give peace a chance -

    A peace symbol bearing the words of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, "No more hurting people. Peace," is affixed to a pole near the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon.

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    Head held high -

    Mike Poitras, of Dracut, Mass., wears the slogan "Boston Strong" on his head near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

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    Boston Strong: Showing support at the Boston Marathon

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    Faithful fans -

    Fans cheer near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

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    Strong show of support -

    Juli Windsor gets high-fives and cheers of support from students lining Wellesley College.

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    Flag day -

    A young fan waves the American flag near the finish line of the Marathon.

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    Memorial maker -

    Kevin Brown of Brockton, Mass. gets an early seat near the finish line to watch the running of the 118th Boston Marathon. Brown created the memorials to the 2013 bombing victims sitting near the the line, center rear.

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    Stronger than ever -

    Before the start of the race, Marla Fogelman, right, hangs a banner on the second floor over Marathon Sports store, the site of the first bomb blast in 2013.

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    Off the top of his head -

    Rob Ordman, of Calgary Alberta, wears the slogan "Boston Strong" on his head as he waits to cheer on his wife Beth near the finish line.

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    Boylston banner -

    Runners pass by banners of love and support as they make their way to load onto buses in the early hours of the morning on April 21.

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    Fist bump at finish -

    Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo give a celebratory fist bump at the finish line viewing area during the 118th Boston Marathon. Arredondo helped save Bauman's life after the first of the two bombs exploded at the finish line at last year's marathon on April 15, 2013.

    EPA / EPA


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