This morning, Andrew and I did the most normal thing in the world: we drove to an almost deserted office park south of our neighborhood and warmed up with a .82-mile jog at about a 9:00/mile pace. But that’s when we threw “normal” out the window: when Andrew handed me one end of a short bungee cord, and I pulled a purple blindfold down over my eyes, blocking out the brilliant sunlight in the cloudless sky. That’s when two runners – one sighted, one blind – stepped into the bike lane facing traffic and picked up the pace for a 6.5-mile run.
Blind run number 12 marked not only our longest run to date, but also our fastest. Over 6.5 miles, we averaged about an 8:30 mile and even briefly dipped into the sixes on some of the downhills (without taking a double face plant). I ran faster with the blindfold than without it, even at the end of the run.
With the exception of one large loop in an offshoot, we traversed the same road – a road with a gradual climb – several times and made a U-turn each time we reached the end (doing so allowed us to practice our double U-turn skills!). That gave me a very different sensation from all of the tight cul-de-sacs and speed bumps in our neighborhood. The road also included a bridge over Interstate 485, with a different surface from the pavement covering the rest of the road. The bridge felt like corrugated cardboard beneath the soles of my high-cushioned Brooks running shoes. We passed a few walkers, runners and cyclists. Andrew told me that once, we passed a woman wearing a purple shirt (purple is the color for Taylor’s Tale). Another time, he told me that a mother driving with her teenage son in the passenger seat slowed the car and pointed, urging her son to look at us (I smiled with my eyes beneath my blindfold when Andrew told me that). We – or at least I – had one scary moment when a driver came flying down the road in our lane. Without my vision, I had no concept of whether or not I was about to be hit by a car, and I instinctively jumped toward, and almost into, my sighted guide (and my stomach jumped into my throat). Andrew told me the car was about 10 feet from us, but the driver was speeding so quickly that I felt all of the car’s force in my bones. I wonder now if Andrew felt the same way, or if I felt it at a heightened level because I couldn’t see it coming.
My goal for the Thunder Road Half Marathon is to average at least a 9:00 mile. I ran faster than that in the race last year and think that with Andrew’s direction and Taylor’s courage to guide me, I can match that even without the gift of sight.
p.s. Earlier, I called today’s outing blindfolded run #12, but I didn’t count this past Monday, when I donned the blindfold and ran with Andrew for a News 14 Carolina story that aired in Charlotte. You can watch it online here. More coverage is on the way, so stay tuned!
As a reminder, I’m doing this crazy thing not just so I can talk about it, but to help support our fight against Batten disease and to save people like Taylor. Read on to find out how you can support our efforts through my run as well as how you can join our team on race day. If you plan to run for our team, please send me a note ASAP (even if you won’t register ASAP) to help us plan. Thank you!
I will run the Thunder Road Half Marathon blindfolded to support gene therapy co-funded by Taylor’s Tale at the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center. Donations to this cause are 100 percent tax-deductible. To support my run and our fight to develop treatments for Batten disease and other genetic diseases, click here.
Join the Taylor’s Tale team at Thunder Road! Click here to register for the marathon, half marathon or 5K. On the second page of registration, under “Event Groups/Teams,” select “Taylor’s Tale” from the list under “Choose an Existing Group.” Run for us to help raise awareness on race day. Stay tuned for more details, including special shirts for team members and an informal post-race event!