Mind over Matter
At mile 12 of the New York City Marathon, Chris wasn’t sure if he was going to make it to the finish line. The temperature outside was high for November, and the heat and humidity were taking a toll on him. But he powered through proudly crossing the finish line having run all 26.2 miles without walking and knowing he’d raised $3,800 for Still I Run.
Taking on the Challenge
Chris hadn’t thought about running a marathon until he went to watch a few friends at the New York City Marathon in 2021. He couldn’t believe the number of people that lined the streets screaming and yelling as the runners ran through the boroughs of the city. The atmosphere was electric. Chris quickly decided he wanted to experience it for himself.
Rather than putting his name in the lottery drawing for an entry bib, Chris wanted to use the marathon as an opportunity to raise money for a charitable organization. He was hoping to find one focused on helping people with mental health issues, which was something near and dear to his heart. He knew he’d met his match when he discovered Still I Run.
Chris was excited to fundraise for Still I Run as part of our Marathon Charity Team. Although asking his friends, family, and colleagues to donate money was uncomfortable at first, his passion for our mission made it easier.
Connecting with our Mission
Still I Run’s mission resonated with Chris on a personal level. He watched his twin sister battle severe depression in her teens. At the time, he couldn’t figure out why she didn’t want to go to school or do much of anything. When he got older, he had his own bouts of anxiety and depression, which gave him a deeper understanding of what she went through.
Both Chris and his sister have found ways to manage their mental health over the years. His sister is now happily married with children, which makes Chris especially proud because he knows her mental health journey was long and hard.
It took Chris awhile, but he eventually reached out for help and started therapy. He also set a goal to run a certain number of miles every week during the summer. By the end of August, he felt better not just physically, but emotionally as well. Running got him outside and moving, gave him a space to think and reflect, and greatly reduced his anxiety.
Chris realizes how fortunate he and his sister were to have the resources they needed to get help. Not everyone is so lucky. That’s one of the things he loves about Still I Run. Our organization makes a difference for people who may not have the financial means or support network to help them with their mental health.
“Mental health awareness is still so lacking in this country. That’s why an organization like Still I Run is so important.” says Chris.
The Road to the Marathon
Training for the marathon took a lot of time and dedication. But Chris says he appreciated having a reason to make healthy lifestyle choices. In fact, now that the marathon is over, he misses the routine of training. While he appreciates not having to wake up early and run 15 to 20 miles on a Sunday, there was something satisfying about the process.
His training also helped him get through some tough times. While he was preparing for the marathon, Chris and his wife lost a pregnancy. He also learned that his uncle had a heart problem. Chris’s long runs helped him find calm amid those storms. When he was out running, he could sort out his own feelings, so that he could be fully present for his wife and family when he got home.
Darn That Mother Nature
Chris mimicked race day during his training. He wore the same clothes he planned to wear to the event, practiced hydrating and eating properly, and ran long on Sundays so it would be the same day as the marathon. Unfortunately, Mother Nature threw a wrench into Chris’s plans and the day was much hotter than expected.
The minute Chris stepped outside to drive to the starting line, he knew he had to make some changes. He put on lighter gear and figured he’d probably have to adjust his expectations about hitting his goal time in those higher temperatures.
Muscling Through the Miles
The marathon was challenging, but Chris kept putting one foot in front of the other. When he felt tired or self-doubts would creep in, he’d veer closer to the crowds to take in their energy. The atmosphere was just as electric as he remembered.
One of his favorite moments was running over the Queensboro Bridge. There are no spectators on the bridge, so it gets very quiet. All he could hear was the pounding of sneakers on the pavement. As he came off the bridge and turned the corner onto First Avenue, the noise of the crowd hit him like a wall of sound. He felt like a rockstar.
The Final Countdown
When Chris got to the last few miles, he told himself he would not walk no matter how exhausted he felt. He got an extra boost of energy when he realized how close he was to the finish line. He’d been at this for 4 plus hours, so what’s a little more? There were bands playing, people cheering, and the end was in reach.
Crossing the finish line was amazing but Chris felt a surprising mix of emotions. He felt relieved, proud, and accomplished, but a little sad too. After everything he’d done to get here, it was now over. He started to think, “Damn, I want to do it again. When’s the next race?”
Chris hasn’t signed up for another marathon—at least not yet. He’s still running to manage his mental and physical health, although it’s gotten more challenging without a big event on the horizon. He’s also looking forward to finding ways to stay connected with and support Still I Run in the future.
Note: While in New York City with Team Still I Run, ABC News had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris. You can view that story here.