|By Rick Winterson
She will be running in her first marathon on Patriot's Day. Chris is raising money for her Early Books Program at the South Boston Neighborhood House.
Chris Coffey is back in the news. We wrote an article on her efforts in our June 23, 2005, issue. That article described her new program at the Neighborhood House, which teaches baby massage to parents.
In addition, Chris is the Director of “Early Books”, a Neighborhood House program that supports and encourages parents to be their children’s first teachers, especially in reading.
She created this program ten years ago in 1996. As just one example, Neighborhood House Early Books distributes some 2,000 books each year, as part of their “Ollie” Road Race activities.
But this takes funds, so late last year, Chris decided she would raise money for Early Books by running in the Boston Marathon this coming Monday, April 10. She set a goal of $10,000 – as of this writing, she’s at the $9,000 mark. Like the Marathon, it’s always the final 10% that’s the hardest, so keep her in mind with your support.
Running a marathon is perhaps the most difficult challenge a lone athlete can undertake. And on Marathon Day, the long-distance runner is totally on her own. Even a mountain climber on Mount Everest has guides and a large base camp staff below.
Preparing for a marathon takes months. Chris has been training with the L Street Running Club, a well-known South Boston institution. She is eternally grateful for all their help. Owen Judge took her under his wing as her coach. Joe Perdicaro and Mac, the Club’s Presdient, were very supportive also.
Chris began teaching yoga early this year. She thinks this discipline has helped her by stretching her muscles and tendons, as well as helping her recover from a long workout. She runs with L Street three times a week – Tuesday (six miles), Thursday (seven miles), and Sunday. On Sunday, she runs as far as 20 miles, and a week ago last Sunday, she experienced the best run of her life. She was really in a “zone”.
She’ll run the final 26.2-mile distance only in the Marathon itself. Chris claims that “a lot of the race is in your head. You tell your head to get past it, and wait for the surge that takes you the last little bit.” She doesn’t have a time in mind. She only wants to finish the race in one, continuous run – “to go the distance”.
Four other runners will be in the Marathon on behalf of the Neighborhood House. They are Stephen Greene, Ivan Hee, Colleen Vahey, and Kathy Laska. In fact, Bryan Van Dorpe, the Executive Director of the Neighborhood House, has another Marathon number, if anyone wants to be a late entrant.
If you would like to track Chris during the Marathon, she will be wearing 21925. By logging onto Bostonmarathon.org, you can see the position of individual runners as the race progresses, as well as finding information about all phases of the Boston Marathon.
Just think about Chris’s Marathon for a moment. Many people write grant requests from an office or arrange a fundraising event. That’s fine, of course, but Chris is extending herself to the limit in order to keep her Early Books program going. It has not been easy. If you would like to help her out, pledge an Early Books donation at active.com/donate/sbnhearlybooks or mail a donation to her attention at the Neighborhood House, 521 East Seventh Street (02127)