By Howard Ulman, Associated Press, 04/09/02
BOSTON The 62-story John Hancock Tower rises into view when Kristy Walsh runs Heartbreak Hill. Chris Mello, her longtime boyfriend, worked in that skyscraper before Sept. 11.
"There's a clearing between the trees and all you see is this pillar of light and it's the Hancock building," she says, knowing the vision of the glass tower and the memory of Mello will carry her through the last five miles of the Boston Marathon next Monday. "That's basically the image of Chris."
Tom Frost will stop twice near where his daughter Lisa, then a Boston University freshman, cheered him on in 1999. He plans to hug his wife Melanie and observe a minute of silence in both spots for Lisa and other victims of the terrorist attacks.
"I wanted to run Boston in both centuries and I achieve that goal now, thanks to Lisa," he said. "I would be sitting here April 15 in California if she were in California with me. If she were in the same time zone I'd never care if I run Boston again. I miss her so much."
Frost, 48, a Southern California Electric employee who lives in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., has run 30 marathons.
Walsh, 25, is an assistant to the dean of John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She grew up in Rye, N.Y., and is pursuing a master's degree in elementary education at Boston College. She's never run a marathon.
Their lives came together when two planes from Boston's Logan Airport hit the World Trade Center towers in New York 18 minutes apart.
Mello was flying to Los Angeles for his Boston venture capital firm, Alta Communications. He was on American Airlines Flight 11 that hit the North Tower at 8:48 a.m.
"He'd always call me every single time he got seated," Walsh said. "He probably asked me, `Did you have your cereal yet? Did you take out the garbage?' Something silly. Then he hung up like all the time."
They'd known each other since third grade. He had hoped to go to Harvard Business School so he could remain with Walsh in Boston.
"We knew in our hearts we'd get married," she said.
At Monday's race, she'll wear a T-shirt with the words, "forever in our hearts" and a picture of Mello.
"We were in Jamaica a year ago this coming May," Walsh said. "He was drinking a banana daiquiri and soaking up the sun and he was so happy. I thought that was appropriate to wear while we're sweating Monday."
She'll run with her sister and a friend, and is determined to finish "even if I have to walk the last 10 miles," she said.
"Chris would be so proud of me" she said with a laugh. "He would just say, `Kristy, you're a rock star.' "
Walsh can't remember running more than four miles at a time before starting training for the race about five months ago. She's getting physical therapy for an inflamed tendon between her left hip and knee.
She'll also be raising money for a charitable foundation honoring Mello and an Alta co-worker who died on the same flight, David E. Retik.
Walsh also wanted to set a goal to avoid being overwhelmed by grief.
"If I were ever depressed, Chris wouldn't welcome me with open arms the day I meet him again," she said. "It just shows that time is so precious."
Lisa Frost was 22 and valedictorian of her BU School of Hospitality Administration class last May. She was a media volunteer at last year's marathon.
On Sept. 11, she was returning home to California. Her father had planned to meet her at the airport.
She wanted to get a job recruiting students at a University of California campus near San Francisco an activity she pursued at BU and seek a degree in engineering. She earned two bachelor's degrees in four years in advertising and business hospitality.
At about 7:15 a.m., the woman who once rollerbladed along the Charles River with her father running beside her, called him.
"She said, `dad, I made it to Logan Airport, looks like the flight's on time. See you at L.A. in a few hours.' And I said, `Sure will, sweetheart,' " he said.
He turned on the television after the first plane hit and saw United 175 strike the South Tower at 9:06 a.m., not knowing she was on it.
"That's the most celebrated photo out of this whole 911 event and it horrifies me that I have to keep seeing my daughter's plane at the time it disintegrated," Frost said.
He's also competing in memory of marine Stephen L. Bryson, who was from Frost's home town and died in January when a refueling plane crashed in Pakistan.
On Frost's shirt will be his daughter's picture.
"It says, `in loving memory of Lisa Frost.' It continues to say we will remember her and the other victims," he said.
When he stops on the course, he'll hold up a sign with two pictures one of his daughter, the other of him running with the Olympic torch in Newport Beach, Calif.
"Her flame was in that Olympic torch," Frost said, "and her flame still burns bright today."
He'll run farther Monday, hoping to finish in less than four hours. In 1999, his time was 3 hours, 53 minutes.
Frost's voice lifts when he remembers seeing his daughter and her friends less than a mile from the end with a sign: "Go, Frosty, Go."
And this time?
"I wouldn't be the first runner to cry at the base of Heartbreak Hill," he said.