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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thoughts on Boston, A little Perspective

My guide Cheryl Kearney and me just shortly before we heard about the bombings

One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek to find, and not to yield
.” – Tennyson’s Ulysses

These words are inscribed on  the Boston Marathon Monument dedicated in Copley Square in Boston in 1996.  Two years ago yesterday I was on the course when the finish line was bombed.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Boston this week and the three times I ran the race. I recently had a chance to relive the events of the 2013 race.

A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to work pack-up pick up at the South Shore Half Marathon in Milwaukee. The race is sponsored by my running club the Badgerland Striders. As a member I’m supposed to volunteer for at least one race every season. I pick this one because it is close to home and lots of my friends participate in the race. I ran it last year as I got ready to run the Boston Marathon.

I always volunteer for packet pickup because it is inside, an advantage in our cool springs in Wisconsin and I am finished early freeing up the rest of the day for my own workout. 
Because it was a running event I wore my Boston jacket. I don’t wear it except to an occasional running event. It’s a little bit of chance to show off.  I was working at the pick-up table right next to a women about my age, wearing the same turquoise and yellow jacket I had on, the one from 2013, the year of the bombing.

So of course we starting talking about the same thing every runner that was there that day talks about. I asked her where she was when the bombs went off.  She was a half mile out; I was on mile 23 when my guide got the first text messages on her phone.

She proceeded to tell me what a terrible experience she had that day because she was not able to get her checked luggage with her cell phone. She needed the phone to contact her friend she was staying with for pick up.  She got a police officer to text her friend on his cell and bought something to eat with the $5 she had on her.

She made is sound like it was a traumatic experiences When I listened to her whole story and timeline. It seemed like her pick up was only delayed by about 90 minutes. Hundreds of runners were not allowed to access their hotels because the area around the finish was a crime scene. So it seems like she got off really easy.  I was telling her how I spent a couple of hours texting and putting up dates on social media that I was ok. Of course she had to top that by saying she was doing it for hours and hours.

She also started ranting about how arrogant the Boston Athletic Association, the organization that runs the race is because they made her pay to come back in 2014 and run. I had a completely different view.  Like her I was one of the 6000 runners that did not finish. I was grateful the B.A.A. invited us back and gave us a finisher medal. I shared with her, the B.A.A has to pay the towns the race passes through and it took months to negotiate payment and agree to numbers allowed in the race. She thought anyone that qualifies should be able to run the Boston Marathon. She was angry there are any limits on the race.

We had completely different perspectives. I looked at the B.A.A as an organization that allowed me to compete as a runner and showed nothing but concern for my safety. The bombing was not their fault but they acted like a first class organization in working to accommodate those that did not get to cross the finish line that day. Finishing was the last thing I think about. I still think about every one that was injured and killed that day. I remember hearing sirens conveying victims to the hospital next to my hotel until 9 pm that night.

She thought about the event only from her perspective. I thought of everything I saw and heard that day and in the days after. I heard how hundreds of Boston residents opened their homes to runners locked out of their hotel room.  I was touched and humbled by the scores of people that reached out to make sure I was ok.  She chose to make herself unhappy with her negative experience and criticism.
 I think of those injured and the stories I saw of how hard many of them fought to get their lives back.
I remember people thanking me for coming back last year and the city needed us to run the race. They needed us to be part of the healing process for them.

 I remember being treated like a rock star by the fans along the route every year I ran the event. Together the fans and the runners took back the race.  The bombing was evil, but I saw so much good on display every time I went to Boston.  The people of Boston and in the communities along the marathon route showed us what is meant to be Boston Strong. I continue to be inspired by their grace and resilience.

I look at the three years I ran Boston as the three greatest years of my athletic life. Maybe because I worked so hard to get there I appreciated the experience more.  Maybe because I never expected to run the Boston Marathon I cherished every moment. Maybe my perspective was different because I didn’t just focus on how I was affected.

 I choose to view my CMT the same way. Instead of focusing on what I’ve lost and what I continue to lose, I focus on how I can still swim, bike and run. Many days CMT really sucks, but it isn’t cancer, it isn’t ALS.  I could make myself miserable by being sad or angry about something I can’t change, or I can do the best I can within my circumstances.

Maybe just a little change in perspective makes all the difference.


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.  

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

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 160 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, 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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