Picking Up Speed

By Laura Edwards

On Thursday evening, I sat by my living room window and blogged about blind run number two as wind and rain pelted the glass. Between 8 and 9 p.m., the deluge ended, and a purplish, backlit sky cloaked the drenched tree canopies and rooftops of my neighborhood. And at 10:09, Andrew picked me up at my mailbox for blind run number three.

As with run number two, I closed my eyes as soon as I took hold of my end of the three-foot bungee cord, my lifeline for these sightless runs designed to prepare me to run the Thunder Road Half Marathon blindfolded on Nov. 16. We turned left at the first intersection and climbed a hill that doesn’t look threatening but always makes me wheeze when I tackle it at the beginning of a run. At the top of the hill, we took another left. At that point, I lost my way.

There is a blinking caution light at the major intersection in our neighborhood, on the main road near the clubhouse. When we ran through the intersection, I glimpsed the flashing red light in the black night, even though my eyes were closed, and I knew where we were. I guessed which direction we were headed, because I could feel the grade of the road beneath my feet and know that the road slopes downward away from the clubhouse and back toward my house. Otherwise, I didn’t have the slightest idea where we were throughout the entire 4.56-mile run. To this day, I marvel at how a blind person can navigate this wide world, with all of its dangers and obstacles, without the gift of sight. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for more than seven years; I’ve likely run the equivalent of over 1,000 miles on its streets; and yet if Andrew left me on the side of the road in the middle of one of our runs and told me to make my way home without using my eyes, I couldn’t do it, at least not now.

Despite the fact that my spatial awareness isn’t where I would like it to be, I’ve got plenty of time for that. Plus, we improved our pace by more than 90 seconds, dropping to a 9:42 mile. I’d still like to get to somewhere in the neighborhood of a 9:00 mile for longer distances, based on the fact that with my eyes, I average in the mid-7:00 range for middle distance races (i.e. 10Ks) and low to mid-8:00 range for long-distance races.

Thanks for joining Andrew and me on the road! Read on to learn about our cause and how you can get involved.

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.

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