Day 85, August 23, 2014, Saturday
Last night there was some confusion as to where I was to meet the “Sole Sisters”, but that was all resolved by morning. “Sole Sisters” is a local group of women that run together in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Cool name for their club/group, huh?
Pat picked me up from the hotel room around 7:00. We made a quick trip through McDonald’s so I could get two breakfast burrito meals. We then headed off to a local park where he and I were to run together for a bit, then would run with the Sole Sisters. I shoveled down the burritos, the two potato cakes, one of the drinks, and away we went. We ran out and back just enough to get one mile in before joining the Sole Sisters. Pat, myself, and the Sole Sisters headed off in the direction of a running track at the Memorial H.S. I’m not sure at what point Pat headed back to the park and his vehicle.
Two things that really come through with Pat; one, he has some of the best people skills one could imagine, as he is genuinely a caring man; and two, he’s a focused businessman. Two great traits all rolled into one.
When the ladies and I got to the track, we did what you do at a track, run around in circles, well, track shaped circles. The advantage to running on a track for me and my sighted guides is that I do not have to run tethered. That’s how we ran, “reins free”, which makes it easier for all to focus on and enjoy the conversations.
At the track a few other women joined us, along with one young gentleman, well, young to me, maybe in his thirties. It turns out he wasn’t connected to any of the women, but that he just saw a group of women running and found himself inspired to run with them. When he said that, he got a lot of chuckles from the ladies. Who could find fault with his thinking, huh?
As we ran, Karen, a medical doctor (pediatrician) ran on my left side, and another woman, Natalie or Nicole (I apologize for not being sure, I meet so many people it is sometimes hard to remember names) was on my right side. At some point in the conversation I brought up my wife, Chris.
“Married?” Nicole/Natalie said loudly.
“Yes, I’m married,” I said. “Why?” I continued.
She said, “We were going to fix you up with someone.”
Well, here’s the scoop. I do not wear my wedding band for this reason. Chris and I bought a home that was built in 1894, the garage was built in the 1930’s. The house was painted beautifully, but the garage had not seen a paint brush or any care in probably decades. The insurance company gave us the ultimatum of fixing up the garage or losing the insurance contract. This was a no brainer. The garage needed to be repaired and we are two fixer upper types.
I began sanding and painting, and replacing missing boards on the garage. That’s when we went shopping for my wedding ring. My hands were swollen from the beating they were taking, and the ring fit snugly.
While I was in the process of making the garage “pretty for the picture,” I realized that it desperately needed to be rebuilt. For the next three years I rebuilt the garage and the front porch. My ring still fit snugly.
After those two home projects were completed, I began running again and my hands thinned out. While grocery shopping one day, I reached into the cart and my ring went flying. Chris pounced on it like a cat on a mouse. It was decided that it was best for me to wear it only on special occasions, if even that, since it slides off so easily now.
By the by, Chris misses me a lot on this run, but, to her credit, she knows I have to do this for my granddaughter and knows that this run has the potential to help a lot of people. “It is bigger than the two of us,” is what she often says. A class act, huh?
Back to the run on the track.
At some point in my many conversations with the ladies, Karen brought up something that shocked me to the bone. I thought that one could only have the cystic fibrosis gene if it were passed on from a parent (either one). It turns out one can acquire the gene in the womb, probably in the early stages of development and it is called, “spontaneous mutation.” A man and a woman, neither of which carry the cf gene, could produce a child that does and that child then could grow up, meet someone else that has the cf gene (his or her parents may not have the gene either) and produce a child with cystic fibrosis.
I have been wondering if it were me or my ex-wife that passed on the cf gene to our daughters. Turns out, it could be neither of us. As both daughters have the gene, it is more likely one of us does have it.
At some point during the run, the heat of the day was getting to me and I needed water. Those ladies really thought ahead. They had coolers in their cars full of cold beverages and snacks. Ya just gotta love women… they think about these things.
When my Garmin buzzed to indicate that I had run 15 miles, it was break time. Angie drove me to my hotel room so I could shower, as she and I were going to Karen’s home for lunch. She dropped me off, went home for her own shower and returned to pick me up. Karen had made enough food for an army. Good thing, because I can eat like one. Wow! Was it good stuff, burgers and the like.
While we were eating, Angie and Karen began a series of conversations that seemed to have no way in for me. I had this vision during their continuous conversation.
When I was a little guy, the girls would often play “double Dutch” jump rope. Two girls would have two jump ropes and would stand opposite of each other. The same rope would be held in the right hand of one girl, and the left hand of the other as they faced each other. In their other hands, another rope. They would then twirl them in a circular fashion, left, right, left, right. Then, another girl would jump into the middle of the two moving ropes and jump up and down, just as she would if it were only one rope being twirled by the other girls. Well, I’m not sure how many times I tried jumping “Double Dutch” style, but I was never successful. One of those things I would like to have conquered just once, but didn’t.
There I sat, listening to Angie and Karen talk back and forth, seemingly without even the time of a sixteenth of a note between when one stopped and the other began. “How do they do this” I wondered. Lots of caffeine? I was able to “jump in” occasionally, however, it was as awkwardly as with Double Dutch jump rope.
Anyway, my eyeballs were slowly lowering to half mast and I was going to be knocking out some more miles later with a man named Dan. He is a nurse anesthetist, and Karen, a pediatrician, has the greatest amount of respect for him. Karen offered a bedroom in their basement so I could catch some Z’s. Her children refer to that bedroom as the deprivation chamber – perfect. After my snooze, I met her husband, Kirk. He has a very cool part-time gig in which he is a radio disc jockey for a couple of radio stations; one of them, as I recall, he said was a country-western station. He does this all from a computer at their home. Occasionally he has speaking parts, but the play list is done automatically. A very cool gig, if you ask me.
One of the problems I was having in the high humidity was getting my laundry to dry in my room. Instead of getting clean, by not drying, they were turning green, or whatever color mildew is. I generally do my laundry by hand in my rooms and hang them to dry, so when Karen offered to do my laundry while I was their home, you bet!
When I came to, it was time to put on my clean, dry, nice smelling running gear and prepare to meet and run with Dan. Karen and the other ladies put together a very nice “goody” bag for me. It included a large bag of pretzels, peanut butter, running socks from the Mayo clinic/hospital where she works, and a few other goodies.
Dan picked me up from Karen and Kirk’s and away we went to the park where nearly all of my running has been so far. As Dan and I ran, the topic of Karen came up. Dan has the greatest amount of respect for her also. It was very nice to know how highly they thought of each other, both as professionals and as people.
Dan and his wife, Allie, had a pediatrician all picked out when Allie was pregnant with their first child, William, however, it was Karen who was on call when he was born. Karen was so thorough, so professional, so caring, that a new vote was taken and Karen became their pediatrician.
After the run we headed off to Dan and Allie’s for dinner; spaghetti and garlic bread! Now that’s good stuff, plus a salad, and, for dessert, a brownie.
During our conversation at their home, Dan and I somehow struck up a discussion about any running gear I might need. What prompted this discussion was that as I understood it, Pastor Jim was going to take me to a sporting goods store named Scheels the next day. Dan was encouraging me to get anything and everything I need, including compression socks to aid in recovery after running each day. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of being “showered” with expensive gifts.
After eating, it was time for Dan to whisk me away to my hotel.
Total miles today: 20.4