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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Marathon Dedication

Author at 2013 Boston Marathon

"The greatest gift you can give (yourself or anyone else) is just being present."- Rasheed Ogunlaiu

I remember the night so clearly. It's like it was just yesterday, but it's been 3 years.  It was 11 pm, I had just gone to bed when the phone rang. It didn't take long to answer it because at that time I was keeping the phone receiver right by my bed.  It was the hospital where my mom was a patient.  Calls from her caregivers had become common.  It was common to get questions about medication or treatment.  This one was a little different.

The nurse called to ask if we wanted a breathing tube inserted or any other extraordinary measures. As the one in charge of my mom's care I knew she did not want that. We had talked about it.  I told the nurse she was moving her to hospice in a few days and we knew we were near the end.

The nurse said it is going to be sooner than you think. I got a chill because I knew he was right.  I got up the next day and was at my mom's bed side by 6:30 a.m. It was her last day with us.  There was nothing I could do for my mom that day except be present and I was determined to spend those last hours with just the two of us until the rest of the family arrived later in the day. All I could do was be there for her, so she was not alone.

I feel the same way about this year's Boston Marathon. I was on the course last year at mile 23 when we heard about the explosion.  That entire day up until that point had been one of celebration.  Fans as usual lined the course, handing out water, oranges, and high fives. Because I thought last year might be my last Boston  so I wanted it to be fun.

A friend of mine ran with me since as a Mobility Impaired runner I am allowed a guide. We stopped at many of the course landmarks to take pictures. My hands got numb from giving out high fives to students at Boston College late in the race.

My most vivid memory is of the kids. On the first turn there were lots of little girls dressed in pink so excited to see the runners and get a high five.  A little boy  about 4 years old standing with his dad about midway through the race, held out a single gummy bear to me. As I took it, he turned to his dad and said " She took my gummy bear." I will always remember the excitement in his voice. Fans like this little one all along the course treat you like an elite runner.

They stand for hours to cheer for us in the back of the pack as if we were elite runners. I heard a Boston native on the plane trip back to Milwaukee tell another traveler that they pride themselves on staying on the course as long as it takes to cheer for everyone.

The first year I ran Boston was in 2012, the year the temperatures hit 90 F.  Race officials talked to me personally to make sure I would be OK in the heat. The put my name in their computer system in case I showed up at a medical tent, so aid workers would be aware of my CMT.  Boston is one of the best run races I have ever been a part of. Everything is professional and world class. You are treated like an elite athlete.

Because of the heat fans all along the course brought out their garden hoses to cool us off and offered ice or to pour buckets of water over us. In that heat they stood for hours to cheer us on. The local fire departments in each small town set up water sprays.

When I wear my Boston Marathon jacket around Boston, the locals welcome me to the city, want to know where I am from and tell me how happy they are to have the runners in town.

What happened to Boston was devastating to so many on a personal level. Those who lost love ones may have a scar that never completely heals. Some of the injured have had their lives changed forever. Some will run the race and I am proud to run with them.

I cannot take away the pain of last year's events. What I can do is be present. I will do what runners do. I will be strong and run the race.  After so much love and support from the Boston crowds, it is my turn to give back. So this year I will dedicate my race to the people of the Boston area, the spectators along the course and those affected by last year's events.  The Boston fans have helpe me to finish two races, and it is my turn to give back. As Bruno Mars sings in my current favorite song; "We find out what we're made of when we're called to help our friends in need, you can count on me like 1,2,3 I'll be there, and I know I can count on you like 4, 3,2., that's what friends are supposed to do." So yes, I'll be there, even if it is the only thing I can do.

In the midst of so much evil last year, so many people stepped forward to help. Those with first aid training rushed to the scene or to local hospitals to help. Boston residents opened their homes to runners locked out of hotels.  The people of Boston and the small towns along the course deseved so much better than what happened. I cannot change what happened, but I can be there and run strong.  We will show once again just like the people that stepped forward on that day, that evil will not win. We will show there is more good than evil in the world and that love will triumph.

I know it is going to be an emotional day for me and many others. It will be a long, tiring and painful day, just like any marathon day. But I would not miss it for the world.  At least one more time Boston Marathon fans and I will be together.

I did not get to cross the finish line last year.  When I cross that line on race day it will be a victory for me and all the fans that got me there!

See you at the finish!

Author on left at Boston Finish line in 2012 before the race.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a two time participant of the Boston Marathon.  She was the 2012 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division. In 2013 she qualified as a member of the Team USA Duathlon Team. She will compete in 2014 at the Age Group World Duathlon Sprint Championship in Pontevedre Spain.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 145 members in 29 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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