So, Gleason's wife, Jennyfer, had no reason to worry about him at Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon. Gleason, 40, had always gotten a clean bill of health at his annual checkup. He took no medicine other than Tylenol. He never complained of chest pain or shortness of breath, his wife told the Daily News yesterday.
That's why she was still in shock that Gleason, of Clifton Park, N.Y., at 6 feet and a trim 180 pounds, had collapsed a quarter-mile from the finish line and later died.
Another runner, Jeffrey Lee, 21, collapsed and died just after crossing the finish line of the half marathon. Lee, a University of Pennsylvania senior from California, was in the undergrad program at Wharton while also working toward a master's in nursing. He was not a regular runner, but did play basketball and other sports, his friends said.
The Medical Examiner's Office has not determined the cause of death in either case, but authorities said that both men apparently died of heart attacks.
"He had such a zest for life," Gleason's wife said. "Everything he did, he did one-thousand percent."
He started running in 1998, the year the couple met. He ran his first marathon - in Chicago - in 2004, then got into triathlons in 2007.
"He enjoyed every minute of it," his wife said. "He liked the fact that you could challenge yourself. He always loved a goal."
But there was more to Gleason than the race, said his wife, also a marathoner. "He was always my biggest cheerleader," she said. "When I ran a marathon, he made me a pace bracelet so I could look at my wrist and see if I was on my time . . . . He'd always be the first one to help if you needed advice."
Gleason, a lawyer, often got up at 4:30 a.m. to train so he could be home for his 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. He helped coach their soccer and baseball games.
"He was just all-around awesome," Jennyfer said.
Her sister, Karrie Borgelt, also ran the Philadelphia Marathon Sunday. She said that she had passed Gleason around mile 23 or 24 and that Gleason looked tired, but nothing out of the ordinary.
"He was going strong," Borgelt told the Daily News. "He looked like Chris. I gave him a high-five."
Jennyfer was waiting at the finish line with their children. She knew that her husband was running just under a 7-minute-mile pace. She figured he would cross the finish line after 3 hours or so.
She waited until he'd been on the course 3 hours and 20 minutes. She wondered if somehow she'd missed him, or if he was helping other runners reach their goals.
Finally, she and the kids headed back to their hotel, thinking maybe he was taking a shower.
"As we were going in the elevator, a woman was saying that a 40-year-old man collapsed and they were doing chest compressions on him," she said.
"I had a sick feeling. I got to the room and he wasn't there."
They hopped in a cab, heading back to the finish line.
Her cellphone rang. Someone from Hahnemann University Hospital told her that her husband was in critical condition.
At the hospital, a doctor told her that there was nothing they could do.
"It was just such a surreal day. It still is today. Unfortunately, I woke up and still it's here. He's not walking through the door," she said, her voice trembling.
"All I can think of is that God thought he was awesome, too, and he needed him. That's the only way I can explain this."