Running with the Deer, but not Like the Deer

By Laura Edwards

A few minutes after 10 last night, Andrew picked me up for blindfolded run number 14.

We’re just over five weeks away from the Thunder Road Half Marathon on Saturday, Nov. 16, when I’ll run 13.1 miles blindfolded, in a real race with thousands of other people, guided only by Andrew’s instructions and my little sister’s courage.

blindfoldMy custom blindfolds arrived all the way from the U.K. earlier this week. I ordered two – a purple one for Thunder Road and a white one for our late-night training runs. On its maiden voyage, the white blindfold earned an A-plus compared to the ragged bandannas I’ve used to blind myself since early June, and I know its twin will serve me well on race day. I also practiced running with a water bottle in my right hand; I hold one end of a short bungee cord – my lifeline in a dark world – in my left. Andrew and I discussed the “problem” of water stops early on in our training and decided that the crush of people is just too dangerous, so I’ll carry my hydration with me.

Two times during last night’s run, we crossed paths with the curb that took my ankle the first time I ran blind, on the night of June 5. That night, I got cocky and tried to jump the curb mid-stride, even though I’d been a blind runner for all of 20 minutes. Last night, Andrew and I didn’t take any chances. Well before we reached it, we slowed to a walk and took a deliberate high-step over the offending obstacle. I’ll crawl the length of the race if that’s what I have to do, but I’d rather not.

We spent much of our 4.78-mile run traversing a side road outside our neighborhood (we ran in traffic, but there isn’t much late on a weeknight in our part of town). A huge herd of deer lives nearby, and at one point, Andrew told me he saw a few off in a clearing to our left. So at 10:30 last night, I was running with the deer. At a 9:47/mile clip, I wasn’t running like the deer, but that’s not the point, after all. For the first time ever, my main goal for a race won’t be to run it as fast as I can. I’d still like to get faster. I ran the Thunder Road Half Marathon in 1:57:20 last year, or an 8:58/mile average. With Andrew guiding me, in broad daylight, I think I can match that time blind.

But Taylor never cared about running fast. Taylor only cared about crossing the finish line. And now, fighting Batten disease with every ounce of strength and courage that could possibly be squeezed into one body and one soul, she can’t focus on being the best.

She can only hope to survive.

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!

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