It's All I Can Do

Day 91, Friday, August 29, 2014

This was move day. A big move. Tomah to Home.

The day began with Sarah picking me up from my hotel. Sarah is a biology teacher and the cross country coach at the high school whose track I have been running on. She herself is quite an accomplished runner.
On our way to the track, first stop? Yep.

Sarah got me to the track, then went into the school to meet with her students while I inhaled the scrumptious breakfast delicacies from Mickey Dee’s, then, in full force, she and her cross country team of high school students converged onto the running track with me. She and I thought it best for her students to learn to guide me while on the track before heading off and running on a trail.

One young man, Katan, took up the challenge immediately and began guiding me around the track. Then another young man, whose name escapes me (with the cell phone black out, one of the many things I was not able to do was write emails to myself, recording valuable information, like names), took up the tether and began guiding me. After a few laps with him guiding me, Katan took over again and all of us headed off the running track and into the wild blue yonder, well, onto sidewalks, streets and trails – oh my. (Calm down, Dorothy.)

I have to say, running with these young high school students as they guided me will be one of the most memorable moments of my run around America for my granddaughter and cystic fibrosis.

Back in the day, when I was a child, all sidewalks ended as a curb when they ended at a street. You stepped down onto a street, crossed it, and stepped up onto the next sidewalk. Today, the majority of them have been removed and a ‘ramp’of sorts has been built in their place. Technically, these ramps are called ‘curb cuts’. Curb cuts were developed primarily for people in wheelchairs and those with other physical limitations that make stepping up and down difficult at best.

Ah, but like most things in life, not all curb cuts are created equally. Some have a greater pitch to them. Some have a gutter at the bottom of them where they meet the street/road (in other words, a sudden dip). Some have tiny lips to them. Some have, … . Well, you get the idea, there are variations to them. Imagine you are a young person, trying to figure out how to communicate the approach of each of these unique curb cuts, over and over again. Throw in a turn here and there, and, all turns are not created equally either. Sharp turns, gentle turns, banked turns, narrow turns, etc, etc. then you toss in a little off road/trail running through a grassy area and you have roots, dips, tree branches, etc. etc.

As fate would have it, at some point my feet collided with a fallen tree branch. Fortunately, it was at a point where we were nearly completely stopped. A little unnerving for me, but what happened next showed me the metal these young men were made of.

From this point forward, I had not one, not two, but a plethora of voices calling out any and all information I may need to run safely, such as changes in surface pitch to the road/sidewalk, approaching turns, approaching curb cuts, etc, etc. These young men were working as a team to make sure everything I may need to know was communicated to me. Adding to this, was the unique qualities of each of their voices. Katan switched with the other young man, and back again, during the off track portion of the run.

I really hope I get many more opportunities to run with more young people like them. More opportunities to witness young minds working together in developing strategies to safely guide me.

There were young ladies with us also, but, they hung in the rear of the group with Sarah. They probably saw the challenge of guiding a blind person who was physically larger and much older a little daunting. Sara encouraged them to take up the challenge of guiding me. They might have been thinking, “Why fix what ain’t broke.”

Back at the track there were high fives all around for a job well done. Then I passed out my “It’s All I Can Do” business cards to the team. Katan responded by saying, “Wow, these are the collectible versions, aren’t they?” Did I forget to mention that not only was he a great guide with initiative, but a comedian also?

I saw an opportunity to describe cystic fibrosis to them and launched into it, but Sarah informed me that she already took that opportunity to discuss not just the disease, but genetics. Yep, I am not surprised. She struck me as a great teacher.
As Sarah drove me from the hotel to the track in the morning, I mentioned that I did not have a ride to the Greyhound station later. She offered, and I accepted, however, she got off of work early today and was ready when I only had completed a tad over twelve miles. She and her hubby were heading out of town for the holiday, so, take the ride now, or “Good luck.”

The bus didn’t leave until much later anyway, so this was, as they say, “A no-brainer.” I kept running.

After completing mile 20, I called the police dispatch again for a ride to my hotel, where my bags were packed and at the front desk, and then, to the Greyhound station. Who did I get to ride with? YES! It was Sergeant Patterson again.
At the hotel he wanted a picture of the two of us. Are you kidding? It was I who wanted a picture with him, but wasn’t sure if he would agree to it. We also took a picture with the general manager of the hotel, then off to the Greyhound station, where I should be able to get a print out of my bus ticket that was purchased on-line. One small problem, the station was closed, as if had limited hours and closed a few hours before my bus came in. Now what?

Sergeant Patterson, ever on his toes, took me next door to, … ? no kidding, McDonald’s. He located the manager of the store and asked her to make sure I got on the bus. As it turns out, that McDonald’s is a full service stop for Greyhound. The passengers and driver stop to eat there and take care of any nature calls.

Sergeant Patterson told the manager what I was doing as far as the run, and wow, did I get treated like royalty. Someone had ordered a strawberry shake then decided against it. The options were, throw it out, or give it to little ol’ me. Score! David Kuhn! Then I was given a bottle of water – FREE! Yep, the Greyhound station closure was working for me.

Like bumping into the tree branch earlier today, the bus station closure at first was a problem, but like so many of life’s bumps in the road, there are rewards to getting past or over those bumps.

I took over the entire right front seat on the bus. This allowed me to lie sideways and stretch my legs. That felt good, but, at one of the stops before mine in Madison, Wisconsin, a lady got on and sat next to me. I had to sit upright with my legs cramped in a tiny space. WOW! Did they hurt after a short while – they got worse with time. By the time the bus got to my stop in Madison, my legs hurt much worse than any time during the run. I couldn’t wait to get off of the bus.

When I did, there was Renee and Kelly Griego, my sighted guide for the up and coming Wisconsin Ironman. One of them noticed and mentioned how swollen my ankles were. My ankles had been hurting for some time. I kept that to myself, hoping that they would heal and return to their normal size. A little down time is going to be a good thing for them.

Kelly was there to give me some Perpetuem, a high caloric protein powder to mix with water for training and for a trial use before the Wisconsin Ironman. With the container in hand, it was time to head back to DeKalb with Renee and get reacquainted with my lovely wife, Chris, that is, after we went into the gas station to get my ticket problem resolved. Greyhound has a little room for improvement in the the use of computers and ticket sales.

After my ticket problem was resolve, first stop? Ha, nope. Renee wanted to stop and get some beer that is sold only in the state of Wisconsin.

It was sure good to get home.
It was sure good to get home.
In case you missed that, it was sure good to get home.
Total miles today: 20.12


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