It's All I Can Do

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Daily blog, Friday,August 1, 2014

I began the day with a run. Jodi and I started at 5:30 AM. Instead of starting at the gymnasium where her running club starts, we started from the hotel parking lot and ran through several streets. It was a cool morning, and the air was calm. People that we passed spoke out and said that they saw me in the news, either on the television or in the newspaper. Jodi said one of them was a construction worker who was just beginning his day. After the run we made a quick trip through McDonald’s and Jodi brought me back to my room.

I headed off to the track after eating breakfast. Coach Miram was out there with a much larger group of young people today. He had them doing several drills, including jumping over hurtles. I tried writing some of my blogs as I walked around the track, but good old Siri was as uncooperative as ever, so I returned to my room to write a little bit, as I had gotten behind by three days. At 11:30, Dan Peterson picked me up to go to a golf outing that was a fund raiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Association research. This Cystic Fibrosis Association raises money to help with the costs associated with either raising a child with cystic fibrosis or living with cystic fibrosis. For example, the Cystic Fibrosis Association will help with the cost of travel and lodging to medical facilities, and with other medical device costs.

In the pro shop, I met many people who either had loved ones who had cystic fibrosis or had them in their lives and lost them. There were also a lot of people who had absolutely no connection with cystic fibrosis other than that just wanted to be there to participate in the fundraiser. There I also met Annette, Dan’s wife, and their two sons, Jordan and Jesse. Jordan has cystic fibrosis and is 12 years old. Jesse does not have cystic fibrosis and is 9 years old. When Jordan was six years old he had a double lung transplant. The need for a double lung transplant began with a visit to the Minneapolis hospital where Jordan was hospitalized because of a long infection. He was given heavy doses of antibiotics, in fact, too heavy of a prolonged exposure to heavy-duty antibiotics. Those antibiotics not only killed off the bad bacteria in Jordan’s body but also the good. The result was that his body was invaded by a fungus and his pulmonary functioning declined dramatically to the low 20% range. In a person with healthy lungs, the pulmonary function range would be at 100% or slightly below. The pulmonary function is a measure of how much oxygen the body is able to take in through the lungs, thus the result of how well the lungs are functioning. The bigger problem now was that because there was fungus in his body, no organ transplant team would accept him. Jordan was having to live on oxygen, and the threat of any virus or bacteria to the lungs meant certain death.

His parents received a call from a transplant doctor in Texas who wanted to see Jordan. Jordan’s father, Dan, explained to the doctor that Jordan had fungus in his body and was being rejected by every other transplant team. The doctor acknowledged that he knew this and said he thought he might be able to help. The family purchased a fifth wheel pickup truck and camper trailer and moved down to Texas to await Jordan’s hopeful lung transplant. Dan owns his own business, so he headquartered out of Texas and flew home occasionally (as needed) for his business. Over the next feew months, Jordan was prepared for two double lung transplants, which did not take place. With each preparation for a double lung transplant, Jordan’s parents lived with the threats that Jordan may not live through the procedure. For each procedure, Jordan was sedated. When he awoke he would feel his chest for evidence that the procedure had been completed. Since they had not been, he knew he was still living with his weak and sickly lungs. Attempt number three was the charm, and Jordan received a new pair of lungs for his body. Dan told me that when

healthy lungs are removed from a human body that the immediately collapse, but lungs that are removed from somebody with cystic fibrosis hold their shape because of scarring and the mucous the fills them. For someone with cystic fibrosis, taking each lung full of air is much more labor intensive.

A double lung transplant is not a cure for cystic fibrosis. In some ways it is just an exchange of problems. New lungs do not last forever. As time progresses, the new lungs become diseased themselves quite often. After a double lung transplant, the patient must take around 60 pills per day. After time, this tapers off to about 30 pills per day. The recipient of the new lung(s) will always have to take at least anti-rejection medications.

Just before the golf games began I was introduced to the crowd. Then Annette, Dan’s wife, drove me back to my room around 1:30. I thought I had better get caught up with my blogs, so Siri and I had at it again. Siri and I battled back and forth, and I finally finished writing three days of blogs around 8 PM. The list of problems I have with Siri in writing these blogs is endless.

Total miles today 8.3.

 

Daily Blog, Saturday, August 2, 2014

I began the day a little after 6 AM when Ashley picked me up. We went across the street to the Cheney Middle School running track where we were joined by Connie. There were a couple of times when Connie needed to walk, so Ashley and I continued to run. I would have been perfectly fine with the three of us staying together, as the conversations were a little better with all three of us participating in them, but Connie insisted that Ashley and I continue to run. When Connie told us she needed to leave, Ashley responded that she would not see Connie in court on Monday, as she and her husband were going to Vegas for the weekend. Court? It turns out that Ashley is a social worker and Connie is an attorney.

Ashley and I continued to run, and just at the point when Ashley needed to leave, Catherine showed up. Catherine and I ran probably another 5 miles, then, headed off to McDonald’s for breakfast. Catherine is one of the funniest, quick witted, down to earth people I have ever met. Catherine told me that she and her business partner Sarah were heading off to Minneapolis on Tuesday, and I could catch a ride with them to Fergus Falls. We decided to go inside McDonald’s and eat. As we did, Catherine received a message from someone named Jessica who was looking for me at the Cheney Middle School track, a Jessica Hoops. As Catherine was reading the message on her cell phone, I heard Siri speak. Jessica had also texted me.

After we finished eating, Catherine brought me to the track and I ran with Jessica. Jessica mentioned that her two daughters, ages 11 and seven, were on the track with their bicycles. When Jessica and I were finished running, she walked me back across the street to my hotel. She and I discussed some of the sites that I could go to and get some really good pictures of to show off Fargo to the world. Jessica and Danielle work at Fargo’s Chamber of Commerce. I will be running with Danielle early tomorrow morning, and Jessica suggested a few places that Danielle and I may want to go to for those pictures. She also indicated that she may join us to make sure we take in as many scenic places as possible.

When I got back into my room, I had to hurry and shower and get some clean clothes on, as Jodi’s husband Rick, was coming to pick me up at 12:15 to go to the horse race track. Rick picked me up at 12:15 and off to the race track we went. The first thing we did was to walk through one of the barns that contained many horses. I met Rick and Jodi’s veterinarian who had just done some dental work on one of their horses. Then Rick brought me to a horse and had me pet the side of its face on the left side. As I reached up to pet the horse it brought the front of its face/ nose/ mouth/nose close to my hand and I could feel its hot breath. As I was scratching it, Rick told me to move to the top of its nose and scratch there, as horses really like that. It sure did. Rick wanted to take a picture of me holding the horse’s bridal on its right side. As I took hold of the bridal, the horse leaned its face into my hand for me to scratch it, kind of like a dog that wants to be scratched a little more.

After we had the pictures of me taken with the horse, Rick and I went out to the grassy area where people sit and watch the horses race. When Rick picked me up from my room, he had a friend of his named Grady with him in the pickup truck. While Rick and I were taking pictures of me with the horse, Grady set up three folding chairs for the three of us to sit in. Grady is a lot of fun, and Rick is extremely informative about horses and horse racing. Grady wanted me to pick a horse for a few of the races, as

he was hoping I would be good luck, but I skillfully avoided picking any horses. For maybe the first hour I reeled off one question after another to Rick, and I learned a lot about many of the terms, as Rick is a great teacher. Both Rick’s father and grandfather were jockeys. When Rick was growing up, he had aspirations of being one also, but he grew too tall, he is 5’11”. There were a total of 10 races today, which I learned later is a fairly high number. I learned that this particular race track in Fargo is only open for three weekends per year in the summer. Just as the last race was concluding, there was a heavy downpour with really large drops of rain. Rick and I scurried off to his truck. Grady wisely waited until the rain let up, waiting inside of a building, until the rain let up, then he joined us. The three of us headed off to Rick and Jodi’s home.

Jodi was playing in a softball tournament in Jamestown this morning. It was a double elimination tournament. Unfortunately, after three games her team was out, that is, unfortunately for Jody and her teammates, fortunately for us, as that meant she and a couple of her teammates were able to join us for a barbecue meal. I was really hungry at that poing and put a lot of food down. Jody brought me back to my hotel room, as I wanted to finish off my miles for the day.

I thought I only had 14, maybe 15, miles completed, but she checked my Garmin and I actually had 17 miles done. I went across the street to the track to get some miles in, then realized I had forgotten my water bottle, and as I was getting extremely thirsty, I headed back to my room. When I came up to the room my Garmin buzzed to indicate mile 18. I decided it was probably a good time to call Renée, so I did. She texted me that she would call in 15 minutes. I made the mistake of lying down to wait those 15 minutes until she called. By the time she did, my day was pretty much over.

I ran a total of 18 miles today. By the way, Jodi is a great hostess. No surprises there.

While I was at the horse race track I was granted the privilege to speak to the crowd about my run for cystic fibrosis. I was interviewed by the man who does the handicapping. He asks some very good questions. It turns out that his best friend from childhood had cystic fibrosis and died just a couple of years ago from the disease. I also got to participate in the winner’s circle for one of the horses that took first place, and the owner is a personal friend of Rick and Jodi.

 

Daily Blog, Sunday, August 3, 2014

Today began with a little humorous twist. I’m not sure how it happened, but Danielle and I were supposed to start running at 6 AM. It was raining outside, and about 6:15 I decided to head off to the track with my poncho on. I would find out later that Danielle was here and had knocked on my door. I had her telephone number, but did not call her because I thought maybe she decided against running in the rain and slept in. and she had forgotten to bring my telephone number. While I was on the part of the track that is the most distant from the hotel, there was a loud clap of thunder. When I got back to the nearside of the track the thunderhead had stopped, so I continued running. This happened a few times and finally the thunder stopped. I’m not sure how long I was out there, but at some point I went back to my room and sacked out for a while.

Cameron and I have been playing telephone tag to determine a time when he would run with me, and at noon there was a knock at my door, but it was Catherine. While she and I ran, I again spoke with Cameron and we decided on a time that would work after I had run with Catherine. Catherine was as funny and quick witted as ever. Danielle and I did not run in the morning.

Shortly after I finished running with Catherine, Cameron showed up. Where Catherine had picked a route that would take us up and over the interstate, Cameron decided on a route that would take us in the opposite direction from my hotel. On our run, Cameron decided we would stop at the home of some friends of his. He works with a woman whose husband is a chiropractor, who also had a chiropractor friend of theirs there. When we stopped at Cameron’s friends’ home, they gave us some water and I got to explain a little bit about cystic fibrosis. One of the chiropractors asked about my Vibram five finger shoes. I went into the long explanation of how I used to have Planter fasciitis until wearing these shoes and, perhaps more importantly, reading the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. After telling him the story of how I have changed my running shoes and my running gate, he said he wanted to watch me run as we left, so he did. Cameron and I stopped at McDonald’s for something to eat, and then he brought me back to my room where Danielle was waiting.

Instead of running, Danielle and I went to the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN. There we saw a Viking ship a man in Minnesota had built. He then sailed from Duluth, MN across the Great Lakes and then on to Norway. The roughest part of his voyage was Lake Superior. Upon his return they placed the ship where it is now and built a building around it. They also have a log from Sweden located at the center. In Sweden, the logging tradition is that the last log that is harvested each year is used for something practical like a table or some other piece of furniture, however, with this log they decided to make it a worldwide art project. An artist in Sweden carved something into the log and then it began its journey around the world. Some of the places it has been are Germany and China. There are many carvings that have been added onto the log, and some really interesting ideas like horsehair being embedded into it. There are two gentlemen from Sweden who accompany this log as it travels around the world, one of them is named Marcus, the other is Johannesson. What are the odds that I would be traveling around the United States and this log would be traveling around the world and our pass we cross in Moorhead, MN?

After taking pictures with the log, we entered a church that is a replica of a church built in Norway. It is a small church, with some very intricate carving in various places, the Hopperstad Stave Church, which is often used for weddings. Occasionally, when the Red River North floods, the waters come pretty close to this church and the welcome center. That Danielle and I had missed running in the morning turned out to be a great thing later in the day.

Today I ran a total of 20 miles.

 

Daily Blog, Monday, August 4, 2014

This morning began with a run with Jodi and Danielle. Jody needed to get to work early so we only ran 4 1/2 miles. After the run Danielle needed to hurry home to be there for when her one-year-old woke up. Jodi took me over to McDonald’s to make sure I had something to eat. Afterwards I ran until I had about 11 miles. Before going out to run on my own at the track, I used the stationary bike at the hotel. That was a nice workout. Somewhere around noon I sacked out for a couple of hours, then went back to the track. Today I ran a total of 20 miles.

 

Daily Blog, Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This morning started at 5:30 with a very pleasant surprise. I knew I was going to run with Jodi, but the run also included Jessica and Jodi’s husband Rick. Every morning that I had an early start to run, the weather was outstanding. The mornings were cool with a gentle breeze. You could not ask for better running weather, plus, there were always other runners out there. Everyone was in good spirits and wished each other a good morning. Jodi, just a very fun woman, cracked jokes to different runners as we passed by them. This morning’s run was Ricks first run in a very long time. He was running because he needed to get into shape to go hunting in the Badlands later this year. He really knocked it out of the park and maintained pace with us the entire time.

Jodi, Rick, Jessica and I all left the motel parking lot running together, and we all returned together. From there Rick drove home while Jodi, Jessica and I headed off to downtown Fargo area for some pictures at the Fargo theater and the university. I’m glad I got to run with Jessica the second time, and that Jodi was there, because Jessica let her hair down, so to say, and told us a very funny story about being pulled over for speeding, and the officer then told her that she was driving on a suspended license. The license should not have been suspended. It was the result of somebody within the state’s legal system not doing their job properly. She also told us a humorous story about getting extra credit in a high school class by bringing in a live chicken. After the pictures, Jodi and Jessica dropped me off at my hotel room and we said our goodbyes. I did some final packing, and at 8:15 Catherine picked me up

Leaving Fargo was not easy. Jodi and so many of the other people have been so incredibly supportive of my efforts. I find that to be true everywhere I go. I am truly blessed to meet all these wonderful people along this amazing path that I am taking. As I continually tell people, there are perks to losing my eyesight. I get to see this side of society; the good side, the supportive side, the side whose hearts are filled with love. Love is the emotion of connection. I have found it easy to get connected with so many of these wonderful people. I have so many wonderful memories. I have great memories of Jordan and Connor, two superstars who are battling cystic fibrosis in a big way. Jordan, age 12, who had a double lung transplant at age 6, and Connor, age 21 who just graduated from college with a degree in math statistics and who’s getting ready to take the GRE for grad school, who also wants to go on for a PhD in statistics, then work for the cystic fibrosis foundation and help find a cure for everyone with this disease cure. Thank you Fargo, thank you Jodi, thank you all.

If you are ever in the Fargo, North Dakota area, I suggest getting a room at the Cambria Suites Inn. Everyone who entered my hotel room had nothing but the highest praise for how nice that room was, and the staff could not have been better. Catherine and I drove to her friend Sarah’s home, where we picked up Sarah, Catherine’s business partner, and Sarah’s two daughters. We transferred my three bags to Sarah’s car and Sarah drove us all to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The two women and two girls were on their way to Minneapolis for a couple of days of shopping. Going into Fergus falls I had no one set up to run with me or take me to a track, so, I devised a new plan. We would probably arrive at the hotel before I could check in, so I asked that Catherine and Sarah do the following: First, we go to the hotel and see if I can get checked in. If so, do so. If not, then I’ll drop my bags off and return later. Second, I asked that they take me to a Lutheran church and just get me to the front door, make sure I get through it, into the church, then leave. With that, Catherine got on the phone and called the hotel as it was

uncertain at that moment if I could get early check-in. She then called a Lutheran Church which just happened to be across the street and one block away from the hotel. She introduced herself to the pastor and said that she was bringing someone to him that wanted to meet him. That was the extent of the conversation. When we got to the hotel, the room was not ready to be checked into yet, but we were allowed to put my bags in it. We then went across the street to the Lutheran Church. Catherine did as instructed. She brought me to the front door, made sure I went through it, and returned to the got car and the women all left.

Once inside the church door, I was immediately greeted by the pastor, Pastor Dale. I explained to him what I was doing as far as the run and that I was blind. I also explained to him that in many towns retired people have been there for me to take me from my hotel room to a running track, and return me from the track to my room afterwards. I asked him if he could call a few members of his church who are retired and ask them if they would be interested in helping me. I gave him some examples of retired people that have been there for me in support of this run in the various towns already, Mike and Sherry in Butte, Montana, and Nellie in Jamestown, North Dakota.

Pastor Dale was caught off guard by this and he let me know. I told him I did not mind sitting and waiting while he made a few phone calls, all I have to do is sit or run. After thinking through the problem for a few moments, he decided he would take me to a running track. It was the track at the Kennedy Secondary School. When we got to the track, he took me out onto it and showed how he really understood a little bit about my eyesight, more than I thought he might. He told me how the lines on the track were pretty dull and difficult to see. He looked around the track and saw that the football coach had put some huge pieces of equipment in the outside lanes of the track. Pastor Dale took me up to them so I would know where they were and how big these things are and how much space they took up. We then decided on a pick up time, 4:30 PM, when Pastor Dale would be leaving the church.

While running on the track, I received a call from a newspaper reporter named Heather. She came out to the track to interview me. After the interview she guided me over to a large garage, probably a municipal garage building, so I could use the men’s room. I have sure learned to appreciate those running tracks that have bathroom facilities on them!

At 4:30 Pastor Dale was at the track to pick me up. We then went to a Burger King so I could get some food, and then to my hotel where I went through the process of getting officially checked then. Pastor Dale and I then set up a time the next morning for 9:00 AM for him to pick me up and take me back to that track. At some point while I was on the track a man introduced himself as the running coach. His first name was Randy, and he had some younger people with him.

It’s not unusual these days, when I move from one town to another, that I get very little sleep. Once I got settled into my room and began eating I could feel the exhaustion settling in. I received a message from Renee that some runners wanted to run with me starting at 7 PM. It was now roughly 5 PM. I really wanted to say, I just don’t have it in me to do it tonight, but it is important for me to meet as many people as possible in order to raise a greater awareness of cystic fibrosis. I agreed to run with these people and then called the woman whose name and phone number I have, Lynn. She would be picking me up from the hotel room at 6:45 to take me to the track where we would meet other runners. We would run from there.

Lynn picked me up right on time and we went over to the same track that I had been running on to meet the other runners. Their names were Wes and Mike. We went for a nice long run, about 6.2 miles. I have to say, as exhausted as I was, the run was a lot of fun. We joked around about many things and swapped a lot of stories. Lynn then re-deposited me to my room. It wasn’t long before I was sacked out. I also tried my portable radio to see if I could get some radio stations from Chicago. I was able to. It was really nice to hear something familiar voices on familiar radio stations.

Total miles today, 22.2.

 

Daily Blog, Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This morning began at 9 o’clock when Pastor Dale picked me up from my hotel room to take me to the Kennedy Secondary School running track.

Yesterday I made contact with Jean Bowman, the Executive Director of the Fergus Falls Convention and Visitors Center. She would be picking me up at 11:15 today to take me to the local radio station for an interview. Right on time, at 11:15 Jean showed up at the track and took me to the station. I was interviewed by a woman named Myla, who recorded the interview and was played back later at 5:45 PM. After the interview, Jean took me to lunch at a restaurant called the Viking. While there, someone came up to me and said, “Hey, you are famous. You are on the front page of the newspaper.” Then Jean read the article to me. While Jean was reading the article to me, Mike, one of the people that I ran with last evening, came up to us to tell me I was on the front page of the paper also. After eating, Jean brought me back to the track where I ran until 4:30, when Pastor Dale picked me up as we had planned.

A quick trip through Burger King, then he brought me to my room. After eating, it was laundry time. Since I cannot see where the washing machines are, nor where to put however amount of money in them, I do my laundry by hand in either the sinks or the bathtubs of the hotel rooms. I use whatever soap I can find, sometimes bar soap, sometimes shampoo.

Today I ran a total of 16.3 miles

 

Daily Blog, Thursday, August 7, 2014

This morning Jean Bowman picked me up from my hotel room so we could run around the town of Fergus Falls and take some pictures. At Jamestown I was pictured standing next to the world’s largest bison. At Fergus Falls, I was pictured standing next to the world’s largest otter. Jean also took a picture of me in an area where there were a lot of American flags. They do an interesting thing in this town with American flags. People can purchase American flags and have them included in this massive display of American flags, whereby each one is numbered and has the name of a former soldier of which ever branch of the military that person served in. For example, if this were done in DeKalb, Illinois, I could purchase one and have my father’s name on it, that he was in the National Guard, and another for my uncle Gordon, who was in the Marines. All of these flags are carefully displayed on certain holidays, then they are carefully put away and stored in trailers. I’m not sure what the holiday is today that they were displayed for.

I was also photographed at a memorial for children who died early in life. It is called Angel of Hope Memorial Park. It is a way for parents to help cope with the loss of a child. We took pictures of me near a dam, City Hall, me putting my hand on the back door of a police car as if it were my ride to wherever, and at the local community arts building where they house their community theater. Inside the theater costumes were stacked on the many seats that the audience would be sitting in. These costumes were from the latest run of Les Miserables, and were waiting to be returned to storage. Jeans daughter was in that play.

At 10 o’clock today I was to run with a woman named Natalie. She works at a physical and occupational rehab center. It is somehow associated with a hospital or clinic that serves people who had cardiac problems or are cancer survivors, however, I received a phone call from a woman named Caroline, who told me Natalie was ill, and she Caroline, would be running with me instead. That Fergus Falls is a small town, Jean knew both of these women. When Jean brought me to the facility where Caroline works, she was there with her three month old son who was in a stroller, and another woman named Renée. Renée was my guide as Caroline pushed her son in the running stroller. We ran the same 5K route that they use for a 5K here. Caroline is the organizer for that 5K and other events. She also either played soccer or was a coach soccer for the past 22 years. Despite just having given birth three months ago, Caroline kept up with Renèe and I, even up a couple of the steep hills. After we were finished running, Caroline brought me to the running track. By the way, Renee did an outstanding job of guiding me, and the conversations between she and I and Caroline were a lot of fun.

As I tell people about my eyesight, I can see the white line on a track, but if you stand in front of me I will run right into you. That’s what happened today. I was going around the track on my warm-up walk to make sure that there was nothing in the lanes that I was going to run into and then I bumped into somebody sitting in the inside lane. I apologized and the young man did so too and said that he would move off the track. Me, I moved one lane over just to make sure I would not bump into him again. I think it was about 2 o’clock when a woman named Sheila came to run with me. I had just finished running eight nonstop miles, so we walked at least 1 mile before we picked up the pace and began running on the track.

The conversations between Sheila and I were fun also. This running track is only six lanes and its pretty old. The lines are faded and there are sections where the top layer of the track has been removed. That top layer is probably only an inch thick, if that much, but Sheila was worried about me whenever we came to one of those and she guided me around them, but running on my own I encounter them every lap. That the lines are faded, as we ran, I continually drifted to the right/outside lanes and every now and then Sheila would have to bring us back towards the inside lanes. It got to be one of our jokes.

At some point, I experienced a nature call, to which Sheila said her husband often uses the great outdoors, to which I responded, this is not a great outdoors bathroom stop I need to make. With that, we heard some noise and Sheila said that there were two young men working on the bleachers. We walked over to them so she could ask him where the bathroom facilities might be. It turned out that one of the young men was the one that was sitting on the inside lane who I walked into. His name is Dane. It turned out that the school was open and we headed there. Afterwards, we resumed our run until my Garmin buzzed to indicate we had reached mile 20, then we began walking. Shortly after the first lap of walking a car pulled up, and Sheila thought it might be Pastor Dale, but it turned out to be friends of hers, Brenda and her recently high school graduated daughter. Brenda and her daughter no sooner got on the track with Sheila and I than Pastor Dale showed up. We took pictures of everyone, and then Pastor Dale brought me to Burger King and then my room. I would have preferred to have showered first, but then my food would be getting cold. Yes, there is a microwave in the room, but I have yet to figure out which button is the start button. So I ate first and then got real sleepy and laid down. No surprises, my eyelids are connected to my stomach, and the fuller my stomach is, my eyelids get down. It was siesta time. When I woke up I really didn’t like that sticky feeling. It was shower time. Afterwards, I called my 88-year-old friend Tom to check in with him. His 96-year-old wife Marge, is going to be released from a rehab center tomorrow. Marge had minor surgery, but still the doctors felt that she probably would benefit from being in an area rehab center. Marge has more energy than Tom and I put together, she is one high-energy, fun-loving woman. It was great to talk to Tom, hear his voice again, and find out what was going on in his life. Tom and I have a standing tradition, that we go to breakfast at the Lincoln Inn every Tuesday morning. Tom told me that no matter what morning I want to go to breakfast when I come home in preparation for the Wisconsin Ironman, we will go to breakfast, and it will be an extended one.

Today’s miles are 20.6

Daily Blog, Friday, August 8, 2014

I began today at 8:31am when Pastor Dale picked me up to take me to the track. He asked me if I was going to be running with anyone and I told him yes, Amy Fisher. He told me that she is quite the talker. At noon, Jean picked me up for lunch. We went to McDonald’s so I could get a large Coke and french fries.

About 2:45, Amy showed up and we ran. We ran about 5 miles and she had plenty to say. My Garmin buzzed every mile beginning with mile 16 and then, at mile 20, she heard it for the first time. We were walking the last mile when Pastor Harold showed up to pick me up. Pastor Dale could not pick me up today, so he sent his retired friend Harold to pick me up. Neither Amy nor Pastor Harold had a cell phone on them unfortunately, so we tried using my iPhone to take pictures, but with my accessibility features, it didn’t go well, so there are no pictures of Amy nor Harold.

Jean picked me up to take me to dinner at 6 PM. We went to an Italian restaurant whose name means beautiful kitchen in Italian. We did not have reservations but the maître d’ allowed us to eat there. He told us that we needed to finish by 7:30 for someone who did have reservations. At dinner I felt the desire to unwind, so I had two glasses of sangria. The reason for the desire to unwind is that there is good news about my granddaughters battle against cystic fibrosis. It appears that the reason that her liver and enzyme levels were increasing is because of the classification of antibiotics she was on. Thankfully, my daughter, Kellie, fired the old G.I. doctor, and found a new one. The new one seems much more with it.

Jean presented me with a wonderful goodie bag at dinner. In it there were two bananas, two apples, two protein bars, three packages of GU, one jar peanut butter, one jar of Nutella, one container of Glide, a large bag of pretzels, and a package of Reese’s peanut butter cups. Jean and I were having such a good time we stayed way past 7:30, but the maître d’ did tell us that it was okay, as a way was found to accommodate the other people who had a reservation. When she was taking me to my room the thought did occur to possibly stop and grab another bottle of wine just for me so I could continue to unwind, but I did not.

Total miles today, 21.0

Daily Blog, Saturday, August 9, 2014

This morning began at 7:31am when Pastor Dale picked me up and took me to the track. I knew it would be the last time that I would see this man, so I asked him if he would write in my book, which he did. He has been a true blessing and very supportive. At 9 o’clock a man named Alex came to pick me up to take me to breakfast. He would not be running with me, as he has some physical problems that would prevent him from doing so. He had along with him his three-year-old son Caleb. On our way to the restaurant he told me that a friend of his would be meeting us. Sure enough, when we got there, his 70 year old friend Frank was there waiting outside of the restaurant. The name of the restaurant was Café 116 and is known for having some exotic coffees. Today’s special was Costa Rican coffee. After Alex, Caleb, and I got out of Alex’s vehicle, Alex suggested that Frank guide me into the restaurant, which he did. After shaking hands with Frank, I took his elbow and within just a few feet he asked, “Do you believe in God?” As it turned out, that was a precursor to the conversation the three of us were about to have. In masonic lodges, we are not allowed to discuss religion or politics, for good reason. What transpired was an example. Let’s just say, I was very eager to get out of their company and get back to the track, back to my mission.

At noon a woman named Missy picked me up to take me out for lunch. We went to a restaurant called Don Pablo’s. It is a Mexican restaurant and I had their signature dish, pork Carnitas. It was excellent. Missy works at the museum where Jean took pictures of me a few days ago. Missy explained a lot of the things that were in the museum, where I unfortunately didn’t have time to see everything, but it sure sounds like a museum worth visiting. About an hour after Missy returned me to the track, Jean called me. There was a threat of rain and she wanted to know what my intentions were if it began raining. It had gotten fairly warm and rain would be a welcome sight. Within a few moments of Jeans call, it began to rain. At first it was light as I made my way around the track trying to get to my book bag and the poncho that was in it, but long before I got to my book bag, the rain came down heavily. I was soaked to the bone with cold rain. About two days ago a fresh new porta potty was delivered to the middle of the track for the construction crews that would be rebuilding the football field and running track. In the pouring rain I grabbed my book bag and white cane and made my way to that porta potty. Once inside I put on my poncho and decided to leave my book bag inside the porta potty. I also swapped my running shoes and put my Vibram five finger shoes on.

The rain continued to come down hard for a while. It sure was a lot of fun to run in with my body. I was very cool and the air was cool with the continually falling rain, so, without thinking about it, I began running faster and faster with absolutely no thought about increasing my speed, it just happened. Keep in mind this is a track that is old, the lines are faded, and it is going to be replaced within a few weeks. As I came around one of the turns, I was struggling to find the white lines and running at a higher rate of speed than I normally do, and, well, the track went straight, and I didn’t. I ran at a high rate of speed out into the grassy area and landed butt first into a wet grassy field. Well, there was nothing else to do but get up and get running again and let the rain wash off some of the dirt. It was a whole lot of fun. The rain did stop, about 30 minutes before Jean and her son, Tommy, picked me up. Tommy is 14 years old and had just returned from a church youth camp.

Jean and her husband are doing a great job with this young man; he is very personable, a lot of fun, very intuitive and intelligent. A quick trip through Burger King and the two of them returned me to my room. Jean made her entry into my book, and then the two of them left.

Total miles today 23.0.

Daily Blog, Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today was move day from Fergus Falls, Minnesota to Alexandria, Minnesota. Heather would be picking me up at 10:15 to take me to an outdoor church activity/service with potluck afterwards in the woods. So this morning I moved at a very leisurely pace in packing and getting ready for the move. Right on time, Heather, her husband, Chris, their daughter, Morgan, and two other children whose names escape me now, picked me up. The service began at about 11 o’clock and we were plenty early. . When we arrived at the outdoor service, their daughter Morgan pretty much leaved out of the vehicle to escort me to the pavilion where the service was held. I was introduced to Pastor Thad. As the service began, Pastor Thad allowed me to speak to the members who were there. If I remember correctly, there were about 60 to 70. I kept it very brief and to the point. I have to say this is one of the most fun services I have ever been to. It was somewhat of a shortened service and the pastor played two songs on a guitar that are probably sung at youth camps. The two songs were a lot of fun; one of them involved participation such as scratching each other’s backs, patting each other on the head, and shaking hands. After the service Heather helped me load up a plate with a lot of food, well, a lot of food according to other people, but for me this was round one, and I guess a lot of people were looking at my plate and how full it was. I had two large plates /bowls of food that were towering. There were some good dishes there. After eating, we piled into their vehicle and headed off to Alexandria . While on route, Pam from Alexandria called me to get an estimated time of arrival. She wanted to run with me as soon as possible. After we got to my motel and got me checked, I called Pa and she was on her way.

Pam picked me up from my motel room and we headed off to run on a trail. At the point where we began our run is a 28 foot statue of a Viking called Big Ole. It is mainly constructed out of fiberglass and was originally at the New York World’s Fair many years ago. Alexandria refers to itself as the birthplace of America. This is because a farmer found a stone tablet in the 1880’s that was supposedly written by some Viking sailors who sailed across the Atlantic, through the Great Lakes, then some rivers, and made their way to this area in the 1300s. The tablet was written in what is called the rune language, or alphabets. There is, of course, a lot of controversy around that stone tablet and whether it is authentically written by Vikings or the farmer.

About a mile into the run with Pam, someone came up from behind and said, “Are you David?” I was surprised that anyone here should know me, but he did and his name was Henrik. He is in the same running group with Pam and he works in the medical field, as does she. Henrik is originally from Sweden, and came here is a foreign exchange student many years ago. He has since lost his accent. The three of us ran together, until Pam and I had reached 5 miles on our GPS devices, then we turned around. Henrik peeled off at the same point where we picked him up. Shortly afterwards we came across a bicyclist who Pam knew very well. We spoke briefly and he indicated he may run with me while I stay here. After we were done running, Pam dropped me off at my hotel room so I could shower and change and get ready for dinner with her and her family.

Pam picked me up and off to their home we went. At their home was her husband Kent, who is an ophthalmologist, her son, daughter Maxine, who is working in an OR room at a hospital, and their young son. Their neighbors, Dennis and Marianne, also joined us. They are a retired couple and are a lot of fun. The food was delicious. Pam made a very tasty pasta dish and Marianne made frozen peas, that were heated up. The conversations at dinner were fast-paced, interesting, fun, and informative. At one point Pam asked me what my most memorable moment of the trip that I have been on was. She no sooner asked me that than another conversation broke out, which gave me time to think about her question. I was thinking of so many things that I could talk about when Pam asked me the question again when there was a break in the conversation. What I answered was not about a memorable moment, but about something that caught my attention with regard to the economies of Butte, Montana and the area around the back oilfields, that is, how strikingly different they were. I am impressed with Butte, Montana, having gone through a bust cycle and how intact that city is, and how great the people are. On the other hand, at Dickenson and other cities around the Bakken oil fields where there is a boom cycle, the higher rate of inflation and the greed is very unsettling.

After Pam and her daughter Maxine brought me back to my hotel room, I thought about Pam’s question more deeply. For me, there is no real one single event or person that stands out higher above the rest. There are so many wonderful people that I have met, so many blessed moments I have spent with them and so many beautiful places I have been, it is impossible to cite one is standing out as being more memorable than others. Every person I have met along the way stands out as being an individual and has left some wonderful memories deeply imprinted in me because of who they are. As I laid there in bed I thought of every city and town I have gone through so far and the very many people I have met. Yep, everyone of them is an individual who has brought his or her individual personality and gifts into this great adventure that I am in.

Total miles today 11.0

 

Daily Blog, Monday, August 11, 2014

Today began at 6:05am when Sean pick me up at my hotel. She took me over to Big Ole, where we began our run on the paved trail. There we met a man named Conrad, who is the new director of the YMCA. The three of us headed off in the direction of the YMCA, as he was headed off to work. Along the way someone came up on our right side and was running extremely fast. The new runner turned out to be Joel, an ophthalmologist, who is quite an amazing runner, and, as I learned, he is not a trail runner, but extremely fast I’m told. When we got to the YMCA both Conrad and Joe went inside. Sean and I ran back to the point where we started by Big Ole, then she dropped me back off at my room.

Sarah picked me up at 9 o’clock and we headed off to the radio station for an interview. I was interviewed by a man named Mark Anthony. He was at a concert the evening before and had only a little bit of sleep before he interviewed me. Mark did a good job with the interview, however it was obvious he was dragging a little bit from a lack of energy. After the interview was completed, a member of the staff of the radio station approached me. He told me that he is the grandfather of a two year old child with cystic fibrosis. He told me his grandchild is doing well, and thanked me for what I was doing. He understands how terrible this disease is, and knows quite well that things could turn badly very quickly for his grandchild.

After the interview, Sarah and I headed off to a running track. I could not use the running track at the new high school, as it needed a couple of weeks to cure, but I was able to use the track at the old high school which is now closed and has been purchased by some business people. (The business people do not take possession of the old high school until September 1.) On the way to the track, Sarah told me that since she had children later in life she was put through a battery of tests to determine any risk factors for her. One of the things that I said in the radio interview had sparked a memory of those tests for her, that being, 10 million Americans have the gene for cystic fibrosis and nearly all of them do not know it. The only way they tend to learn they have the gene is when a child in the family is born with cystic fibrosis. Sarah said she thinks she learned that she has the gene for cystic fibrosis, but that her husband does not, and that she was going to pour through all of the paperwork about the test she had gone through when she got home. Sarah was concerned for me when it came to lunch. She was thinking that she might pick me up and take me someplace, but I told her all I really needed were a couple of large cokes and some french fries. Sarah also brought a couple of folding lawn chairs with her, so we sat and waited for the TV reporter as I drank the cokes and ate the fries.

The TV reporter showed up at 1 o’clock, her name was Chelsea. She said she loves when she gets to do a story like this one, rather than all the bad news stories she has to do. Chelsea was a one woman reporting crew as she was the videographer/camera crew and the reporter. After the interview, Sarah went back to her office and Chelsea and I talked about a couple of places I could visit and have pictures taken of me to highlight the town of Alexandria, Minnesota. She had a nice

list of things for me to go to, none of which I was familiar with, so I asked her to send that information to Sarah, which I learned later she did.

After Chelsea left the, I continued to run laps around the track. At some point I saw what appeared to be a white pickup truck moving probably in the vicinity of the running track. With my eyesight there was no way for me to determine if the truck was on the track, on an access road next to the track, such as an alley or driveway, or on Anna Street next to the track. This is an eight lane track, and to the best of my ability I ran on the line that separated lanes six and seven, however, at some point I drifted over to the line that separated lanes seven and eight. It turns out that that white pick up truck that I saw was on the track but had pulled onto a building driveway next to the track, BUT, it was such that the trailer it was pulling extended out onto lane eight. When I describe my eyesight to people, I tell them that I can see the white line in front of me, but it is very fuzzy, very faint, and I can only see it for about 5 feet in front of me. I also tell them that if they park a bulldozer right in front of me I won’t see it, I’ll run right into it. Well, that turns out to be true. I ran right into that parked trailer, the right rear side of it. The good thing is that I ran into the edge of the ramp and the back of the trailer that sticks straight up-and-down from the bed of the trailer. The only part of my body that did hit the edge of that ramp was my left cheekbone. It could have been a lot worse if I were just an inch or two to the left or a foot or two to the right.

Sarah picked me up at about 4:45 and we headed off to Walmart so I could get some chocolate milk and some Subway sandwiches. On our way to Walmart, and then to my room where she dropped me off, we thought about a lot of fun things that I could do here to highlight the town. I hope they all become a reality, some are pretty funny. This is a great little town.

Today’s miles were 21.3

Daily Blog, Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This morning began at 6 o’clock when Sean picked me up to go for a run. We met her husband Andy, and another man named Alan, at the large Viking statue (Big Ole) from where we began our run. The three of them took turns guiding me. This morning we went in the opposite direction from which Sean and I went yesterday. Running in this direction, we crossed over two short bridges. At the point when we crossed one of the bridges, Andy was guiding me and one of my feet caught the lip of the bridge. I hit the ground. It has been sometime since I have hit the ground. I was beginning to wonder when that was going to occur again, so now I can relax. I scraped up my knees a little, which is par for the course. When we return to the point where we all began, Sean got some type of a wipe that contains alcohol for me to wipe on my chin, where I was also scraped up. When I applied it, she asked if it stung a little bit. I answered by saying, “as a male of the species I cannot admit that in front of a woman”. When we finished our run we had completed a little over 8 miles.

A little later, I ran with James, who works with Sarah. Sarah set this all up and James told her that he could probably run three, maybe 4 miles, that’s it. He is an avid bicyclist, not a runner. James and I rode out a few miles from town, to run on the same ‘rails to trails’ path, but at a different point near Big Ole in town. Before we began running, I needed the use of a portable potty. When I got into the porta potty, I felt around, as I always have to to find where everything is. Surprisingly, the toilet was positioned crossways, not facing the front door, and feeling around, I also discovered the porta pot toilet had a tank on the back, with a flush handle. After using the toilet, I pushed the lever and sure enough it flashed. I was shocked. A porta potty that flushed. I had James take a picture of this, as it was the first porta potty I have ever used that had a flush toilet in it.

As we ran James was talking about the various lakes that were on either side of us, to which I mentioned that these would be good photo ops. Not to worry, we will get them on the return trip he said, and we did. There was one lake in particular that James wanted to get a picture of. When we came up to the area to walk off the running trail to get that picture there were bicyclists there. They were a couple of women from Minneapolis who had relatives in from Georgia. James then was able to point out all of the lakes in the area. He is like an Indian guide who knows all the details of all the natural settings in and around Alexandria. Not only is James knowledgeable about the area, he is very enthusiastic about talking about it. We took some pictures with the bicyclists and then we continued on our run. When we finished we were a little over 16 miles, so James, who thought he could only run three or four, did about 8 miles. Go James!

After James dropped me off at my room, I took a short nap. Then Dan picked me up later in the afternoon to go for a run. He was thinking of running 10 miles or so, however, I was running on tired legs and we added 8 miles to what I had already done for the day. While we were running, I received a call from Sean. She and her husband were going off to a place called Cherryberry for ice cream, however, Dan and I had already planned on dinner after our run. We had dinner at the

Depot Restaurant. The Depot Restaurant used to be a railroad depot and is right there along the ‘rails to trails’ trail, which makes sense. Dan is an amazing runner who decided he wanted to qualify for Boston despite the sub-zero temperatures that are common here in Minnesota. He trained religiously through the winter and then qualified for Boston. I cannot remember in which marathon he ran and qualified, but the man is a machine.

One thing that is different about running in the heat in Minnesota than in the Western states is the humidity. For the run with Dan I had to put on fresh clothes, as the running clothes I had on earlier from running with Sean, Andy, Alan, and James were still soaked. When I got back to my hotel room from the run with Dan, I was far too exhausted to wash my clothes in the bathtub or sink. I decided on using a wash machine here, but I was told that the washing machine for public use was in disrepair. It would be available tomorrow, however, I had no clean running clothes for tomorrow. Understanding that I had no clean clothes and no way of getting to a laundry facility, the woman at the hotel desk let me use one of their machines. I have to say that was a lot easier than washing everything by hand.

Todays miles were 24

Daily Blog, Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This morning I was to begin running at 6 AM with Alan Gunzberg, however, I didn’t sleep well through the night because of the scrapes to my knees and the slight pain in the muscles of my body from the fall the day before. I called Allen a little after 5 AM to apologize and tell him I just couldn’t do the early morning run, fortunately, he was very understanding. Later (Renée can check the schedule for the time) Brett and Hendrick picked me up to go for a run. Brett has one amazing story to be told. Roughly 2 years ago he weighed 325 pounds. He decided he was going to take up running to lose the weight. His weight is now down to 182 pounds and he has decided to run 50 marathons, in 50 states. He told me that since beginning to run he has much more energy than he ever did before. He says that he has energy to play with his children and enjoys every day much more than ever before.

Along with Brett and Hendrick, I woman named Sabrina ran with us. Sabrina is a woman after my own heart. She runs wearing Vibram five finger shoes. Brett, Hendrick, and I had set a goal of 10 miles to run before joining others for lunch at a restaurant named Zorba’s. As we ran, as most runners do, we shared a lot of stories and joked around. Sabrina has a very infectious laugh. At one point Sabrina stopped to remove her Vibram’s and run on the grass alongside of the trail. She was beginning to develop a blister on the bottom of her foot. She was very surprised to be developing a blister while wearing her Vibram five finger shoes. When she said that, I told her that I once developed a blister with them also, and was equally surprised. Running with most other brands of shoes, shoes with arch supports and heel cushioning, I regularly developed blisters. The one and only blister I ever developed with my Vibram’s was quite the surprise, as was her blister. Sabrina had to leave us early, as she was running on her lunch break. She took an extended lunch break from work to run with us. What a nice thing to do. After we had completed nearly 10 miles, Brett and Hendrick and I headed off to Zorba’s. This restaurant specializes in many varieties of pizza and Mexican food. Even though the restaurant name is Greek, they have no Greek food. Go figure.

At Zorba’s, the three of us sat with many other runners whom I had run with, and one I had met, Tim. Tim is a tall one, and quite the comedian. He sat across from me on a picnic bench style seating arrangement. He had ordered a pizza made of peanut butter and bacon. You read that right. He offered some of it to me. As much as I like peanut butter, and as much as I like bacon, the thought of those two items on a pizza just did not appeal to me. So I graciously said “no, thank you”. To that Tim said, go ahead try some, we’ll still be friends. Like I said, Tim is quite the comedian. But I still could not wrap my taste buds around that whole idea of peanut butter and bacon together.

On my left sat Alan Gunzberg, the man I would have run with in the morning had I been able to get up and do it. Like the rest of this running group, he is a really nice man. Across from Alan and myself were Andy Gonzales and his wife Sean, two running machines. Sean is the OB/GYN. At some point she was looking at her cell phone and said that she was glad she had the day off, as the hospital was

very busy delivering a lot of babies today. Andy and Sean are planning on running a trail run with backpacks together. The run will be just under 300 miles and they need to complete it in six days, as the following day Sean is scheduled to work at the hospital in her role as an OB/GYN.

Brett and Hendrick were on my right. Brett and Hedrick are planning on running the Little Rock, Arkansas Marathon in March 2015 together. I can’t recall who else is running it with them from their club, but they invited me to run it also. I am seriously thinking about it. It would be a lot of fun to run that marathon with them, that is, to go to Little Rock Arkansas and know people such as them, plus seeing the people that I know from Little Rock from attending the school for the blind there in 2012 and from briefly working there in 2013.

After that run, I had a little downtime before I was to run with Andy Gonzales and Bjorn. I received a call from a woman named Shawna, who offered to take me to the YMCA for a swim. She picked me up with her two children and we went there. Unfortunately, there were children in the pool just moments before and one of them defecated in the water. When Shawna and I got there, Conrad, who is the manager for the YMCA, and who I had also run with a few days ago, apologized and said the pool was being cleaned and would be ready in about 30 minutes to one hour. I realized I would not have enough time for a nice long, luxurious swim like I would like, so Shawna and I left.

Later, Andy and Bjorn picked me up to run another 10 miles. Andy and his wife Sean have run a 100 mile ultra-marathon before, in fact, possibly more than one. I mentioned to them days ago that someone suggested I consider running one of those, but that’s a little too long for me. As the three of us ran, he told me that he and Sean talked it over and came up with this thought. In preparation for a 100 mile ultra-marathon, the two of them run back to back 20 mile days. Then, they rest several days before the 100 mile run and do just fine. He continued by saying that since I run 20 miles a day, I am used to running on tired legs. That is what a 100 mile marathon is all about, being able to run on tired legs. With that, in a joking voice, I said well, I’ll give it a think, but I think running on tired legs has taught me all I need to know about how I really just don’t see me doing a 100 miler.

On the schedule that we have where people sign up to run with me, Bjorn said that he would treat me to a steak dinner after the run. While he and I ran, several times he asked me if I would like steak for dinner, that is, barbecued steak. To which each time I said, yes, sounds good. By the way, Bjorn is from Sweden and still has a very attractive Swedish accent, even though he has been here for I believe 20 years. Anyway, when we finished the run we ran down to his house, which was just a short distance away, and then went out onto his patio. There he had a beer and I had a glass of red wine. We talked a while, and then both of us began showing signs of being tired by yawning. There was no indication from Bjorn that he was getting ready to make that steak. At some point I just decided I needed to get back to my room to shower and eat before I fell asleep. On our way out of his home, his wife Lisa drove up. I had met her and a friend of hers earlier when we first got there. I have forgotten the friends name now, but there is a picture of us. Bjorn drove me to Burger

King, then my room. After getting into my room, showering and eating, I thought perhaps Bjorn was waiting for Lisa to come home to make that steak, but he never gave any indication.

One very noticeable difference about running here in Minnesota versus running out west, especially in the upper elevations, is the humidity. After a run, no matter how short it is, my clothes are drenched. The staff at the Super Eight where I am being comped have been absolute blessings. They have laundered my clothes for me. This is a blessing in that my clothes are so drenched they seriously need to be washed and running in this humidity really drains me, therefore, at the end of a day of running, I have very little energy to wash everything out in a sink or a bathtub.

I ran a total of 20.16 miles today

Daily Blog, Thursday, August 14, 2014

This morning began a little before 6 o’clock when Brett picked me up to run. When we got to the starting point, we met Henrik. As we ran, the two of them told me about how they had decided to change the names on their bibs for the Little Rock, Arkansas marathon and that they had planned on eating a lot of barbecue on their way down to the marathon in Little Rock, and after, on their way home from the marathon in Little Rock. To have fun with this idea of barbecue, one of them changed their name on the bib from their real name to pulled pork. The other changed his name to something also dealing with pork. In response, the race director wondered why, so they told him. He suggested that they try a specific barbecue restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas when they get there. They also talked about an ultra-marathon that they ran, this one in Tulsa, Arizona. At some point in this marathon you have the option to make a turn. If a runner makes that turn, he or she will run a 26.5 marathon, instead of 26.2. Thus, this becomes the shortest ultra marathon out there.

Next up was Connie. Connie is the director of the chamber of commerce. She picked me up in her convertible with the top down. She told me that she was taking a chance by keeping the top down, as it looked like rain. Connie is my age, 62, and we began our run by Big Ole. We ran a 5K. As we were returning to her car it began to lightly sprinkle. She did not mind the light rain. We then went to her office for some pictures, which included a picture of me with the replica of the rune stone. As legend has it, some Vikings long ago made their way from Norway across the Atlantic into the Great Lakes to the area near what is now in Duluth, Minnesota and down some rivers to what is now Alexandria. The Viking sailors found the American Indians to be a little hostile, and some had lost their lives to fighting with them. One of them, again according to the legend, chiseled out information about their experience. If accurate, it would have happened in the 1300s. The stone was found in the late 1880s near the base of the tree. It was found by a farmer. There are those that believe the farmer chiseled out the stone himself. There are those that believe wholeheartedly that it was from Viking sailors. Connie then returned me to my room.

Next were Heidi and her son, Bryson, who is between six and seven years old. We went to the old high school track to run. Bryson rode his bike once around the track and then got to the business of hunting for frogs. For Bryson’s sake, we decided to run one hour, that way he would know when we were done. When we finished, Bryson had in fact found a frog. It was apparently a very large one. When we got into their vehicle, Heidi had some kind of a container that Bryson put the frog into. From what I heard, Bryson is quite the frog hunter. From the track, we went to a place called Cherryberries. They sell ice cream or frozen yogurt by the pound. You fill up a cup/container and you pay by its weight. Heidi began reading off all the names of the various flavors and I picked the first two that sounded really good. I know if I continue to hear all of the flavors, I would have become increasingly confused. And wow, that was good stuff. After Heidi dropped me off, she went to the store for me. She purchased a bottle of shampoo and a large bunch of bananas. I was hoping for two or three bananas, but the large bunch sure it was welcome. Thank you Heidi!

Around 4 o’clock I was picked up by Celeste. She took me to the ECHO newspaper office where her husband Al is the editor. Al, Celeste, a sports reporter named Eric, and myself all ran from

the office to the running track. After several laps around the track, Eric had to return to the office. Celeste told me that she had joined weight watchers and had lost a fair amount of weight but she wanted to keep it off, so she began running and Al joined her. They found that running not only helped keep the weight off, but helped them to lose more. They enjoyed running so much that they have now run in over 100 events, most of them are 5 and 10K’s, but Celeste has run a few half marathons. In one year they had run 30 different events. For their 100th run, they emailed the race director to tell him/her of that race’s importance in their life. At the awards ceremony for their 100th run, they listened as all the other awards were given out, and then, the race director announced that there was one final and special award. To their surprise, the race director announced Celeste and Al’s names and told the crowd that this was their one hundredth race. He presented them with a $100 bill. They used the money to buy two bicycle helmets.

Al and Celeste continued to run on the track with me until my Garmin buzzed to indicate the 20th mile. We then ran back to the newspaper office. Celeste brought me back to my hotel room so I could shower and get into clean, dry clothes before we went to a restaurant. Linda, at the desk of the hotel, offered to do my laundry while I was gone to dinner. I was very grateful for her offer. Because of the humidity, my energy levels were really low and I had not been keeping up with washing all my clothes on a regular basis. Every piece of running gear I owned needed to be washed. At the restaurant, Al interviewed me for an article that he will be writing for his paper. Celeste, who writes a blog about the confessions of a former fat woman, also wrote an article about me. Celeste used to work for the newspaper but now works for Weight Watchers. They are such a fun couple. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations with them on the running track and at the restaurant. After eating, they returned me to my hotel room.

When I returned to the hotel, Linda presented me with a plastic bag filled with my clean and dry underwear. She had hung all my running gear up in my room so it could air dry. Linda is a superstar for sure! Linda has a son who has epilepsy. In part, they moved up here so that he could receive better medical attention. He was put on a high fat diet and now requires no medication and has no evidence of epilepsy. My guess is that there are certain fats that he had to eat, while avoiding others.

Total miles today, 20.82

Daily Blog, Friday, August 15, 2014

This morning I started a little earlier, at 5:30 AM. I ran with three women, Jean, a nurse, Michelle, the owner of a resort, and Julia, a newlywed. We ran a little over 4 miles, and then went to a Caribou coffee shop for breakfast. I had never had breakfast at a coffee shop before and the egg sandwich I had was extremely good. I also had a mocha frappuccino to wash it down with. The three women were a lot of fun to talk to during the run, and certainly, afterward, at Caribou. While we were running, Michelle began seeking information about what cystic fibrosis is. Between Jean and myself, she got quite an education, especially about how damaging this disease is to human lungs.

After they returned me to my room, I took a brief nap. As far as I knew, there was no one else on my schedule to run with today. Sometime around 8:30 or 9:00am, I checked in with Renée to see if that were still true. To that she said yes, but Sarah mentioned that since no one was up to run with me, she would be taking me to the running track, so I thought I had better use my time wisely and rest up. Not only did Sarah not pick me up and take me to the track, she never even contacted me to see if that is what would work for me.

At some point during my stay here in Alexandria, I heard of a blind politician named Torrey Westrom. He is a Minnesota state senator who has been a State Senator for nearly 20 years. He is now running for state Congress. I had to meet this man. He sounded very impressive to me. I asked Renee to contact people to see if it would be possible for me to meet Senator Westrom at the county fair.

Sarah then sent information about a woman named Nicole who would be picking me up and taking me to the fair to meet him. In the email, the time to pick me up was set at 6:30 PM., however, I was under the impression that Sarah and I would go around town at some point during my stay here so we could take pictures of the many interesting features about this town to show them off to the rest of the world. For some reason, Sarah never followed through, so I called Nicole and asked her if she might consider driving me around to take a few pictures. She sounded excited at the opportunity.

We moved up my pick up time to 6 PM. Nicole’s husband is a farmer. He is very dedicated to the 4H program and has all of their children involved in it. Their children were showing off livestock at the fair. Within seconds of meeting Nicole, what came through is her intelligence and her great sense of humor about being a city girl now living on a farm and being around farm animals and the farm lifestyle.

In the downtown district of Alexandria, there is a restaurant called Bug-a-Boo-Bay. In front of that restaurant is a statue of Lucy, the Peanuts character. In many of the comic strips, Lucy is at a booth that says the psychiatrist is in and her charge is five cents, so we took a picture of me in front of Lucy holding a nickel as my payment for therapy. Inside that restaurant is a very large aquarium filled with salt water fish, some of them are probably four or 5 inches long and very colorful. It is quite an unusual attraction to have in a restaurant, and I am sure that visually it is beautiful and soothing to look at. We also took pictures of the newly constructed downtown area and the section that is still under construction. I am told that there is a striking difference between the new and the old.

When Nicole and I got to the fairgrounds, we met one of their sons, Nicole’s husband, and Nicole’s sister. Within a few moments I was introduced to two people who work for Sen. Westrom. In talking to one of his people, that gentleman said that “when Senator Westrom heard of you, he had to meet you”, to which I said, “when I heard of Senator Westrom, I had to meet him”. Within a few moments Senator Westrom was there. With that, he said “I’m putting out my hand to shake yours”. Everyone got a good laugh as two blind men swung their hands around, reaching out, trying to catch the other man’s hand for a handshake. It was obvious that the two of us were interested in the other one’s life, as we kept asking each other questions. At one point Senator Westrom got into full-blown question mode, asking me about my granddaughter and about cystic fibrosis. It was obvious that the man really cared and was really seeking a thorough education about this disease. After some time had passed, I was introduced to his twin daughters, about eight years old, and his son, about five years old, and his wife. At one point his publicist made the statement, “Both of you are running”. With that Sen. Westrom and I took several pictures with each other. Finally, it was time to leave and head back to my room. Nicole drove me to a fast food restaurant where I got something to eat and then brought me back to my room. I really enjoyed meeting Senator Westrom. I have no doubt that he is a good, caring, and a very intelligent man.

Total miles today 5.78.

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