so here i am, marathon attempt #2. i ended up taking FIVE months off from running (yeah, it was brutal not running!) to get healed and healthy. getting back i the groove has been slow, for a number of reasons. 1) i got used to be lazy. like realllly used to it. and sleeping in. 2) i switched to minimal running shoes and had to retrain myself how to run. more about that later. 3) life happens and gets in the way sometimes. darn being an adult and having responsibilities! also, i'm trying to be extra careful this time around. my injury prone body hasn't caught up tot he fact that yes, i WILL be completing a marathon this year. so i'm tricking it by pumping up knee strengthening exercises, cross training more, and loading up on healthy vitamins and recovery nutrition.
i am having delayed onset panic.NWM had over 22,000 participants last year. even though i had to drop out, i still went to the race to cheer on friends. and to get a glimpse of what to expect next time. holy crap! 22,000+ people in union square, sf is A LOT of people. plus lining up for the corrals starts before dawn. before dawn. before dawn is a time i am well acquainted with (thanks to morning boot camps and training runs) but it is a time when i am never fully awake and i don't see very well. part of my condition is that i have very poor night vision. it's difficult to see in dimly lit places (ie movie theaters, "romantically lit" restaurants, etc). another part of my condition is that i don't have a lot of peripheral vision. so to sum up: darkness+crowds+early morning= scary environment for a blind non-morning person runner. i had forgotten about those things when i decided to do Chicago. then came paperwork time and a box for visually impaired/blind participants. hm, should i check it? i mean, it's not like i need to tether to someone to run, or have a service dog, or walk with a cane. i don't look like a blind/vi person. which is probably the biggest battle of having RP. appearances are deceiving. i bump into someone and apologize, but still get an angry "watch where you're going!" um, i was watching...as much as i can see to watch! so then i reminded myself that it can't hurt to check it, that i probably need a special bib to put on my back that says "hey watch out, blind person running so stay out of my way!" or whatever.
then all of a sudden memories of NWM came back to me. throngs of people everywhere. cones and roadblocks (which are realllly easy to walk into/trip over. benches, low garden fences, curbs, potted plants...all foes of someone with limited vision). ok yeah, maybe i should ask if i can have a pacer to navigate the early miles crowd. now i need to back track for a sec: i'm running chicago through Team In Training. it's an awesome group that i'll write more about some other time. TNT handles the race entry, hotel, transportation, etc and training schedule while i fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. hence my TNT badge to the right of my page. ok, so i'm emailing bonni from TNT about chicago last minute because i just switched events. i originally signed up for the kauau half, but the lure of a chicago, a full marathon, was too hard to resist. i had two days before the absolute deadline. one of those days was fourth of july, when everyone is out of the office and closed. so thursday, july 5th, is a mad scramble to get everything printed and faxed to bonni. oh and to casually mention i'm visually impaired, so how scary is the beginning of the race? naive and new marathoner that i am, a little googling revealed there are 45,000+ participants. say what? and bonni tells me that there isn't much dispersing of runners as the course goes on. cue onset of panic. visions of tripping over runners or road blocks or water stations and then getting trampled by an endless crowd flashed through my head. when you have very limited vision, being in crowds can make you feel claustrophobic. i imagine that feeling magnifies hundred-fold with a running crowd. ok, yes, definitely need someone to run with me, to help navigate runners, alert me of upcoming aid stations, and generally make sure i don't trip to my trampling death.
bonni, who was so nice and understanding, said that a coach can run with me for the first couple miles and she would try to find a volunteer. she also offered to pay for a second entry so that i could bring someone with me. which would have been awesome if i had any marathon friends who could agree last minute to fly out to chicago with me. i tried desperately asking around but it was a big commitment for any one person on such short notice. so, as of now, i'm still waiting to hear if some poor soul at the chicago TNT group will run/guide me through my first marathon. as if training and running a marathon wasn't hard enough! in the meantime i am trying to let that fear go and just hope and pray it'll work out in the end. because that's really all i can do for now, right? that and run my ass off.