March 23, 2013

Shamrock Recap 2/2: The Race...aka the race of life

This post was intended to be all about my race day, but I've decided to rethink it a bit.  Here's what you need to know about my race: it was freezing at the start; I stayed at my goal pace until mile 12 when I was dead; I saw and chatted with Bart Yasso at mile 3.5ish; and I PR'ed by 5 minutes.  I saw friends at the finish line and shared high fives and celebratory hugs.  It was a big relief when my final time showed up on the website today - 2:08.37.  But these things aren't really important.  Sure I worked REALLY hard for this race, but it was a moment in time.
Happy finish line moment - new PR!
I want to write about something else today.  I want to write about the race of life.  We don't often stray into personal territory but today is an exception.  I ran this race with someone in the back (and sometimes front) of my mind - my Grampy.  It hurts every ounce of my being to admit that his health is very poor.  At 91 years old, it appears that God may call him home very soon.  
One of my very favorite photos of us...I was probably 7 or 8
He is an incredible person and has left an indelible mark on me as a person.  Without a doubt, he's been the biggest inspiration in my life and this started at a young age.  My Grampy is very special to me; I was the only grandchild until I was about 10, so I was fortunate to get lots of attention as a girl.  He is kind, generous and fair.  He believes in hard work and always taught me to keep trying until I succeeded.  He is immensely proud of the fact that I studied and graduated with my engineering degree.  He is loyal to my University and continues to follow their sports, specifically football (even though they suck!).  He often told me that it was a better school than his alma mater (Yale) this day I'm not sure the reason for that or even if it's a remotely legitimate comparison!

Throughout the race, I carried a small reminder of our relationship - a report that I wrote in the 3rd or 4th grade on a person we admire.  Of course, I wrote about him, citing his kindness, excellence at golf, enjoyment of riding bikes on Cape Cod and most notably, beating a highly deadly cancer.  This inspiration was safely tucked in my running belt, always reminding me to keep pushing.  At miles 11 and 12 when the going got tough and I just wanted to walk and give up, I reminded myself of him and that he beat cancer when no one gave him a chance. I could hear his voice in my head telling me to keep on chugging and just push through it.  I know he was with me that last mile as my legs ached and my lungs burned for rest.  
At the finish line with my "I admire my Grampy report"
He has had a remarkable race for the last 91 years - selling eggs during the great depression, serving in the Pacific during WWII, playing baseball at Yale, marrying my beautiful grandmother, 4 amazing children (my Mom is the 3rd), a successful career as a stock broker, 3 grandchildren, beating cancer and every odd that every doctor gave him and being a really good human being.  He taught me to play golf at Cape Cod when I was a young girl.  We went crabbing in the summers, using hot dogs as bait.  He taught me how to eat a Maine lobster properly...with a giant bib and a huge trash bucket in the middle of the table for the shells.  He was kind to me in moments of defeat - a high school knee injury that sidelined me from collegiate swimming and a failed grad school endeavor.  And while he was kind, he never coddled me, always challenging me to be better.  It is this sentiment that I shall carry with me in every road race and in life.
Learning to play golf, circa 1989 or so
The last time I spent with him one on one was on December 26, 2011 to return some Christmas gifts while I was up in Boston for the holiday.  My parents had already headed back home early that morning and so the two of us were left on our own to go to the local mall in the morning with a mission on our mind.  It was one of those everyday chores that was really fun.  As my grandparents have gotten older, they travel less and my time with them has been less than I would like it to be - this was one of those moments that I quietly treasured.  Anyways, back to our errand.  The mall was mobbed (a favorite word of my Grampy), but we found a parking spot towards the back of the lot (he refused to use his handicap tag) and we headed inside.  This man, small in stature and walking with a cane, can really maneuver!  Dressed in gray slacks, a navy windbreaker jacket and some ball cap, he navigated us to where we needed to be in the mall.  Upon arrival at the store, it was still closed - odd since the rest of the mall was open.  I walked ahead of him to get to the mall security booth to inquire if they were appeared that someone overslept!  Fast forward a bit and we got the presents returned successfully.  He inquired if I wanted to check out any of the sales and I wasn't interested.  We headed home to get some lunch and enjoy some time with my Grammy before I had to get to the airport.  As mundane as this may be, it will likely be the final time I spend with this incredible man.
A Christmas Eve when I was a girl
Acknowledging that someone with such a strong and resilient personality will not always be here to talk to me is difficult.  Please keep us in your thoughts in the coming days.  
My "report" and inspiration


  1. Oh gosh Christine-what a powerful post. Thank you for sharing such incredible memories. I pray that you and your family will find peace during this difficult season of life.

  2. Such a precious...precious post about your Grandfather... Part of who you are comes from your relationship with him....
    I will keep you, your Mom, and Grampy in my prayers...
    Just really...really touching how your Shamrock Race honored a special person in your life... Grampy is so very proud of you....

  3. What a wonderful dedication post to honor your Grampy; my grandfather is also now in his 90s and we were extremely close when I was growing up. Reading this I couldn't help but tear up very early on. We are very lucky granddaughters to have such wonderful memories that we'll be able to cherish forever.

    (And congrats on PRing by 5 mins!)

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing this, Christine. You are both fortunate to have each other! It's great that you appreciate him while he's here. My prayers are with you.

  5. As I sit here at work with tears in my eyes, I can only say thank you. I've been worrying about running a half this Saturday due to knee issues. Taking a page from your book, I think my decision has been made. I lost my dad when I was 18, but I know he would be so proud of what I've accomplished so far, just as your Grampy is with you. Knowing that, I know he will safely get me through those 13.1 miles. Thank you for sharing something so personal, and know that what you and Pam do, inspires more people than you know (something else I'm sure Grampy knows and makes him proud). Know you have a huge support system who are here to help you both through whatever may lie ahead. Hugs to all of you!!

  6. awww...such a sweet sweet story. I loved that you brought your report to the finish line with you. Running and Finishing can mean so much more sometimes than a fabulous race or great bling. Your story keeps in all in perspective. xoxo

  7. Both of you are so lucky to have such a special relationship. Sometimes people have no idea how much they inspire and encourage us. Your Grampy does know. You've both given each other a truly precious gift.

  8. Christine, I have been reading your blog after catching the RunDisney bug a few weeks ago. I decided to go back to the beginning of the blog and read forward. Figuring that comments on older posts aren't seen, I haven't been adding to them, but wanted to comment on this one anyway. Thanks for sharing the story of your Grampy. Having an amazing heritage is such a blessing, and one not granted to all. It's so wonderful to have an example to live up to that has overcome adversity and thrived, and as you said is kind without coddling. I'm very grateful for the heritage of good ancestors I have, and it's obvious you are too. Thanks again.