Fuel for the Journey

By Laura Edwards

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew and I broached the topic of hydration for the upcoming Thunder Road Half Marathon. Thunder Road, like most races of any considerable distance, offers water stations every two miles along the course. But if you’ve ever run a race with water stations, you know they’re a human traffic jam. I always try to slow down enough to avoid sloshing water or Gatorade down the front of the volunteers (often kids and their parents) manning the stations as I take a tiny paper cup. But a lot of runners come through the water stations like an animal stampede, and the stations at some of the bigger races are a mishmash of tangled legs and sweaty bodies and spilled water and electrolyte replacement drinks.

That said, Andrew and I decided weeks ago that the water stops at Charlotte’s largest race are the last place a blindfolded runner and her sighted guide want to be. But I can’t run 13.1 miles without water. I’ve never liked the fuel belts that hold small bottles of water and strap around your waist, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to take the bottle in and out of the belt on the run without my vision. I often carry a water bottle on my longer solo runs, but on race day, I’ll have the bungee cord in my left hand and want to keep my right hand free.

hydration pack

My brother, Stephen, is into mountain biking and suggested I buy a small Camelbak pack with a water bladder. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles in America’s national parks, but my hiking pack isn’t what you’d call road race material. So this afternoon, I went to REI and bought a purple Camelbak pack. I’ll need to take it on the road a few times before the race to get used to the extra weight and bulk, but I’m excited that I solved the water station dilemma.

I ran 10 miles close to my target pace yesterday and followed up with a 5.2-mile run today. My ankle injuries of summer and early fall seem like distant memories, but I’m not taking any chances. And with the Camelbak purchase, I’m almost set for Thunder Road.

The purple pack will provide my body with fuel for my 13.1-mile journey in the dark. And while conventional wisdom tells me there’s nothing more important than water for survival on the race course or in life, I’ve got something much stronger fueling my fire to complete the race of my life and keep fighting long after Andrew and I cross the finish line.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: seven years ago this past July, I promised my little sister I’d save her life. But I haven’t succeeded, and now, all of a sudden, Batten disease is running a lot faster than me. That makes me mad as hell. I don’t like to lose, especially when people I love get hurt. And THAT, more than the coldest, freshest water or the world’s best sports drink, is my fuel for the journey in the fight of our lives.

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 and help us turn Thunder Road purple for Taylor! 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.” Wear purple and run for us to help raise awareness on race day. If you’d rather cheer, stay tuned for details about the official Taylor’s Tale cheer station on the course! 

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