It's All I Can Do

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shortly after I awoke, Mason and Emmie came downstairs. I said good morning to them, and Emmie, when she said good morning, had a little song in her voice. It was fun to listen to. I was sleeping in the living room and that’s where the children came to to watch TV and play with their toys. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back Mason guided me back to the couch. He did this without being asked to. These are two fun, very loving, children.

Kelly was in the kitchen making breakfast. Yesterday he made pancakes, today he made oatmeal. After breakfast, Kelly, Mason, and Emmie left, just as they did the day before. They left a few minutes before I did, a little after 8 o’clock. Nicole and her two sons came by to pick me up to go to the track again. When Nicole and I got to the track, her brother was there with his daughter, Lucy. Lucy is nearly 2 years old and was in the stroller. Nicole and I walked around the track, with Nicole pushing Lucy.

Today the weather was much nicer, and as we walked, middle school and high school students alternated using the running track. Several times Lucy would drop her bottle onto the track as we walked and Nicole was not aware that that had happened, but the children running on the track saw the bottle and always told Nicole that she had dropped something. I was very impressed with those students for doing that. So often you hear unpleasant things about children and young adults, but here they noticed the dropped bottle and brought it to Nicole’s attention. Very nicely done.

After about 6 miles, Nicole and Lucy left. I continued on, around and around the track. All day long there were alternating classes of high school runners and middle school runners. It got a little crowded out there today when the students were out there on the track. I moved over several lanes to the right. On my own, I would run on the inside lane, running counterclockwise. When the students came out, I moved a few lanes over to about the middle of the track to let them have the center three lanes.

When the students were out there, I made sure to only walk. This proved to be a wise decision at one point. As I was walking, I approached a group of young people whose teacher was probably among them, talking to them. I bumped into one of them who was right in my lane. I am sure that he was focused on what he was supposed to be, his coach/teacher, so, no harm—it just proved that my decision to walk while they were out there was the correct one.

Shortly after I got my 20 miles in, Nicole and her sons came out to pick me up from the track. I don’t recall if it was Corbin or Weston, but he guided me to their car and did a stellar job for such a little guy. Once in their car we headed off to guess where? Yup, McDonald’s, before heading off to Kelly’s home. Today I got home much earlier than yesterday and was able to eat and relax a little bit more before Kelly and his children came home. Mason and Emmie play very well together.

Kelly made spaghetti for dinner, plus, he made two sauces. One was a red sauce with meatballs and the other a white sauce. Emmie likes the white sauce, so Kelly made that sauce mainly for her. Kelly apparently enjoys mixing the two. Meghann joined us for dinner. I tried the red sauce with meatballs first, then had a bowl of the spaghetti, actually linguine noodles, with the white sauce. Both were very good. The children went off to bed, and Kelly and Meghann and I talked for a little while before calling it a night.

Miles for the day: 21.85 Miles to date: 1722.6


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nicole Griego and David

Nicole Griego and David

This morning Nicole Griego picked me up with her two sons, Corbin and Weston. They are in the fifth and fourth grade, respectively. We dropped them off at school first, then went to the high school running track. Actually, before going to the track we stopped in the the office to make sure it was okay for me to run on the track. The principal was not in, so I asked the woman at the counter if there was someone I could speak to and I explained why. I also gave her one of my cards and I explained what I was doing. She got very excited and made a phone call, and then said whoever she spoke too, I don’t know who that was, said it would be fine for me to use the track to run on.

It was cold and windy, and there was a very light misting rain as we got on the track. We did not run far, perhaps 1 mile, or four laps, when the reporter from channel 27 showed up. Her name is Kathryn Larson, and she is all positive energy. She set up her camera while continuing to talk the whole time. She was a lot of fun to listen to because she was so energetic and upbeat. The first thing she did was to video Nicole and myself running around the track.

David and reporter Kathryn Larson of Madison channel 27,  Oct. 15

David and reporter Kathryn Larson of Madison channel 27,
Oct. 15

She then interviewed me, plus videoed me doing some unique things: pulling the velcro straps off and back on my Vibram five finger shoes; unfolding my white cane several times; having me walk towards her with my white cane as she was crouched down at ground level, in fact, the last videotaping of this movement towards her with my white cane, I tapped something, I think it was her video camera. Whatever I tapped with my white cane, she said “perfect”, so I guess whatever shot she got, she liked. While most of this videotaping was going on, Nicole decided to run around the track a little bit to keep warm, as she was getting very cold.

Finally, Kathryn got what she wanted and left. Earlier she had videotaped me and her singing a song in which we both were saying something about I would walk 500 miles, and then she would say, “He would, but I wouldn’t”, and then explain a little bit about what I was doing, and then say “stay tuned for more about the story on Wake Up Madison”.

Nicole and I ran probably seven or 8 miles before she had to leave.

After Nicole left, I just boogied around the track, clicking away the miles in the cold and the wind and the rain. Initially, my second interview was to be at 2:30 in the afternoon, but a different reporter from channel 15 called me just after noon and said he was on his way. When he set up his camera and his tripod on the track it was positioned so the lens was facing into the wind. He wipe it off several times because of all the rain on it, until he finally decided to turn the camera around and have the wind at its back.

This man was very friendly, but he really wanted no part of being out there in the bad weather and made the interview quick. After he was done with a few questions, he went out to the center of the field to videotape me running around the track. I ran around the track just once, and he was done and ready to leave.

After he was done, there was nothing left for me to do but to continue running in the cold, wind, and rain. I stopped occasionally to get a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and water from my bottles in my book bag.

Shortly after I had gotten my 20 miles, I was really glad to see Nicole show up to pick me up. I was more than ready to leave the cold, the wind, and the rain. Her sons were at piano lessons. One quick stop at McDonald’s, and then she dropped me off at Kelly Griego’s home.

Once inside Kelly’s home, I ate, and then drank a decaffeinated coffee to get warmed up. I laid down for a short while to take a nap. Kelly and his young children, Mason and Emmie, came home around 5:30. Mason and Emmie had karate classes after school. Kelly made pizza for dinner as he and I talked in the kitchen.

When the food was done, Emmie let me know that I was sitting in her chair, so of course, I moved. She is probably six years old, Mason probably eight. They are fun to be around. Apparently Emmie was hungrier than she normally is and she wolfed down the pizza. So did Mason, but it seemed to me that Emmie had more. After dinner, Kelly got the children ready for bed and off to sleep they went. Then Meghann, Kelly’s ‘my person’, came over. The three of us talked for a short while. I was really looking forward to some much needed sleep and went to bed shortly thereafter.

Total miles today 20.75

Miles so far 1700.75

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Today was restart the run day. It was restart the run for my granddaughter day. It was restart the running for my daughter day. It was restart the run for all of those whom I have met and have cystic fibrosis, and for all of those I have met who have loved ones with cystic fibrosis, day.

It began by having breakfast with my 88 year old buddy, Tom. For four years Tom and I have gone to breakfast every Tuesday morning at the Lincoln Inn, in DeKalb, Illinois. Tom has faithfully driven me out to Nelson Road for the past 3 1/2 years. It is on Nelson Road where I train for marathons, and it is on Nelson Road where I had begun this run for cystic fibrosis on January 1, 2011. After breakfast I went home to get some loose ends taken care of on the computer and to pack.

No doubt I was dragging my heels today. There was a part of me that definitely did not want to leave home. It wasn’t until the afternoon when I was finally ready to go. Chris drove me up to Madison, Wisconsin.

I have found that turning to church pastors has been very beneficial for the run. If I show up at the church and talk to them face-to-face, I have found that they have become very supportive. In Madison, Wisconsin, I was going to be at a homestay with my friend and amazing sighted running guide, Kelly Griego. Kelly guided me this year in the Appleton, Wisconsin half Ironman, and the Madison IronMan. He is also a great swimming coach.

Before Chris and I left to go to Madison, Chris went online looking for churches that would be closest to Kelly’s home. She found one that was literally within a few blocks of his immediate area. This was almost too good to be true. When Chris and I got up there, our first stop was to stop at the Capitoland Christian Center. When Chris and I went into the church we met with one of the pastors who is from Africa. I explained to him what I am doing regarding the run. I explained that what I asked of churches is that the pastor ask retired members of their church to provide rides for me from my home stay to a close running track.

This pastor was unique. Instead of saying yes or no about helping me, he suggested that I attend services the following night at 6:30 PM. I would find other people to talk to from the congregation and maybe I could find someone to help event. I told him that I needed to be running first thing in the morning on a high school track in Verona, that I could not wait until tomorrow night to meet people. I explained to him about my granddaughter and her battle with cystic fibrosis. That’s when things got interesting.

The pastor informed us that if we believed in Jesus more that He would take care of my granddaughter’s condition. He then went on to tell us how his kidneys had failed and so he began believing even more strongly in Jesus and his kidney problem resolved itself. He was told he should have died, but because he believed in Jesus he was healed. Obviously, this was not going to work. So we asked him if he could tell us where the closest Lutheran Church was. He got on a computer and seemed to be struggling trying to figure out how to find one. He found one but then told us it was extremely far away, roughly 7 miles, but with traffic it would take 15 minutes to get there.

Another pastor from that church walked into the office and we explained to him what we were doing and that we were looking for a Lutheran Church. He gave us the name and location of the church that was much closer. Chris and I drove to All Saints Lutheran Church, but because of my heel dragging earlier it was late in the day and the pastor was gone. We spoke with a woman named Georgia who was just coming out of the church. She was very supportive of us but also said that the pastor would not be available tomorrow due to a funeral. She gave us directions to the Good Shepard Lutheran Church. When we got there we had the same situation. The pastor had gone for the day and the woman that was in the office was extremely supportive but was unable to help us.

Chris and I then stopped at a HyVee food store for dinner. We had the Chinese buffet, which is what we enjoy a lot at our local HyVee in DeKalb, Illinois. After that, Chris dropped me off at Kelly’s home and then she headed back to home. I don’t know if I’ve ever missed Chris more. Add to that that the weather was terrible; it was windy, dark, and raining. I really did not like the idea of Chris driving home alone. When Kelly came home we sat and talked for a while.

I still did not have anyone to take me to the running track in Verona, Wisconsin tomorrow, but, then, his sister-in-law, Nicole, called. Nicole said she would pick me up in the morning and run with me at the track. I had already set up an interview with a TV reporter who would meet us on the track the next day. I asked Nicole if she would be willing to be part of the interview. It didn’t seem like that would be her first choice. Kelly and I talked until Chris called to let me know she got home safe.

Chicago Marathon, October 12, 2014

The Chicago Marathon, October 12, 2014

Bryon Guida and Chris Madden are my guides for the Chicago Marathon again this year. They live in Oregon, Illinois, a town which is about one hour away from me to the west and the north. We were going to take the train in and the train leaves Elburn 4:40 AM. Elburn is about 35 minutes away from me to the east. They picked me up at 3:45, and we made one stop for coffee at a gas station before boarding the train.

This is a special train that leaves much earlier than the first train would normally on a Sunday morning. It is there just for the Chicago marathon, so all those that ride the train are runners, spectators, or volunteers for the Chicago marathon. The train makes probably 20 stops before it gets to the Ogilvie train station in Chicago. By the time we got to the Ogilvie station the energy was high in the train. There were a lot of excited people talking, laughing, and getting ready for the big run.

From the train station to the starting point of the marathon it is roughly a one mile walk. It was easy to know which direction to go to, just follow the crowd. We were starting in the very front of the marathon in the corral called the ‘athletes with disabilities corral’. That corral is fenced off and there is only one entrance to it. When we got there, that gate had already been closed and sealed by the police. We showed the security guard behind that gate our wristbands that said we were to have access to that corral. This security guard had no sense of humor and told us it was too late, the police had sealed it, and that was that.

The three of us walked along the outside of the fence for just a short distance, and fortunately, a man recognized me. He is Dan, from the ‘Dare to Tri’ program that I did in the summer. The Dare to Tri program is a program for people with disabilities who want to pursue triathlons, or any of the three disciplines, but it’s focus is mainly on preparing people with disabilities for triathlons and supporting them in any and all triathlons. Dan is one of the co-founders with Keri Serota.

Dan talked to the security guard and got the attention of a nearby police officer to break the seal and open the gate. The police officer had no problems breaking the seal, as he had others with him. We no sooner got past the fence when a woman named Caroline Gaynor approached me and said hello. She has guided many visually impaired women in many triathlons, including Iron Man events. She is a phenomenal athlete and lives in Texas, though she is originally from Chicago. It was nice to actually meet her, as all I knew her from was Facebook. For the Chicago Marathon Caroline was going to be pacing with a gentleman who has a prosthetic leg. He lost his leg in combat action in Iraq. He was wanting to finish the marathon in four hours and 30 minutes, which would be about 20 to 25 minutes ahead of me.

Chris Madden, Caroline Gaynor, David, Bryon Guida

Chris Madden, Caroline Gaynor, David, Bryon Guida

We then went into the tent where there were other athletes with disabilities and their guides. It was warm inside the tent and there were bagels, bananas, and coffee. Also, a lot of really great athletes. One of them is Israel Antonio. Several years ago I ran the Sugarland (Texas) marathon with him. I passed him probably 5 miles from the finish line and he was really struggling. Since then he has improved dramatically as a runner and as an all-around athlete. It is fun to watch somebody improve themselves so well. Israel’s target time to complete the marathon was three hours and 45 minutes.

I was also hoping to meet Aaron Scheidies, as he is an amazing visually impaired athlete. He was supposed to be in Brazil right now for the Paralympic trials, but I found out there is a strange rule this year that excludes visually impaired males from the Paralympic trials. Visually impaired females were able to participate, andin fact, one of them, Amy Dixon, was down there and took first place. Amy is also an amazing success story who improved herself dramatically within the past year and one half. Through Facebook she has given me a lot of great swimming drills that have helped me improve my swimming. As it was, Aaron Scheidies was not in the tent with us prior to the start of the Chicago Marathon as he is an elite runner.

After just a few minutes of being in the tent and meeting a few people, including another blind athlete from Philadelphia, we all went out to the start line. People in wheelchairs start the marathon 10 minutes before the official gun time start. Two minutes later, that is, eight minutes before the official gun time start, the other athletes with disabilities start.

When we started, Bryon Guida was guiding me. Bryon has improved dramatically as a sighted running guide over the years. He has guided me in a total of six marathons. About 4 miles into the marathon, Bryon needed to use a porta potty, so Chris took over. This was the second time that Chris would be guiding me. He also guided me for last year’s Chicago Marathon. He is one of those people that is naturally gifted and understanding of what other people need and do not need. Last year, within the 1st mile of Chris guiding me, he had it all figured out as to what information I really needed to know and what information I did not need to know. He is very impressive as a sighted running guide and is in an elite category.

When Bryon left us to use the porta potty, Chris joked around that he and I were going to pick up the pace and ditch Bryon. For the next several miles we were running ahead of pace. Sure enough, it seems as though we did ditch Bryon. Mile after mile we did not see Bryon. Unfortunately I did not train properly for the marathon.

A strange thing happened on my break from the run around America for my granddaughter. When I stopped running in Tomah, WI, my body was sore, especially my ankles. I was worried about my ankles, but with rest, they improved. Even for the Ironman I wasn’t quite sure what I could expect from my ankles, but after it, again, my ankles improved. Thinking that my body needed a lot more rest, I spent quite a bit of time sitting at the computer on Facebook and sending emails. My hips and my left knee began hurting, increasingly so.

Over several days the pain got so severe I even sought medical attention for it. I was sure that I had damaged either my hips and or my knee and that my running career was over. My doctor pushed and prodded in the area of my hips and my left knee looking for pain. There was discomfort, but no real pain. When he asked me where the pain was I pointed to the outside part of my left hip. That was the worst place. He pushed on that, and, yo baby!, did it hurt.

He said he thought I had bursitis. Bursitis comes from overuse, but, if it was bursitis, I could not understand why resting was making it worse. The reason I am bringing this up is because on the train ride in I was talking to Chris Madden about this. He experiences the same thing. Chris is an amazing athlete. He did the Iron Man this year at Wisconsin, is running the Chicago marathon today, and next week will be running the St. Louis Marathon. I told Chris how the issue was resolved for me. The doctor prescribed steroids, which I put off using for several days, hoping the pain would subside.

I finally broke down and took two of the six pills I was to take for the 24 hour period. Within seconds of taking the pill I thought perhaps I should try stretching the muscles in my hips. Stretching is something I have not had success with. Usually stretching causes me more problems than if I don’t. The method I used to stretch was to lay in bed and lift my left knee in the air and cross over to the right side of my body with it to pull on the left hip muscles. I did the same with the right hip and muscles. I immediately noticed how tight everything was. After stretching, I got to my feet and found that there was an immediate benefit. I could walk normally again. Chris does stretch, but has not tried that particular stretch. So hopefully, that will help him. Anyway, back to the marathon.

It was evident that I had not trained properly for the marathon as in the second half I was beginning to feel pain and slowing down. It was obvious that I was not going to qualify for Boston. Chris then asked me what was my best pain.

“Best?” I asked him. He said, “yes, best”.

I told him I tried to keep my mind off of pain. We ran a short distance and then he said my best pain is in the muscles in the front of my upper leg. All I can think of is I was trying to keep my mind off of pain.

Chris and I crossed the finish line and still no sign of Bryon. We got our finishers medal and stopped to get a lot of the freebies they give you at a marathon after you finish. We then headed off to the tent for people with disabilities. Just outside of the tent we encountered Bryon. He had finished well ahead of us, roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes. My time, and Chris’s time, was five hours and 21 minutes. After Bryon broke off to use the porta potty early in the marathon, Chris and I came up to a boulevard. We could either take the stretch of road on the right side or the left side. Apparently, we took one side and Bryon, as he tried to catch up to us, took the other and passed us. Bryon said that he kept running and stopping and looking back but couldn’t find us ahead of him or behind him, so he thought, maybe we really did pick up the pace and he continued to try to catch us. Keri Serota, the co-founder for the ‘Dare to Tri’ program, also now organizes the athletes with disabilities corral. Since she has taken over we all agree it has actually been organized. She has done a phenomenal job. After Bryon crossed the finish line, he saw Keri. She saw him with his guide bib and he told her, “I lost my blind runner”. Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha, that is something a sighted running guide probably never wants to have to say, I lost my blind runner. Keri said she would check on me and walked away to use a computer that only race organizers can use. She never got back to him.

Poor Bryon – having to tell the dynamic and attractive director of the athletes with disabilities corral that he lost his blind runner. The good news is there was no harm done, just a unique situation as it will set this Chicago Marathon apart from all others. Every marathon has something unique to it, though this one is really funny. During those miles the Bryon was guiding me in the beginning of the marathon he was doing the best job of guiding me that he has ever done. He is really improving as a sighted running guide.

As we approached the tent for athletes with disabilities to pick up our gear and head home, a young man came up to me and introduced himself. He told me that his name is Michael Cantrell, Kim’s son. He had to say this twice before it registered with me. One of the many perks of losing my eyesight is that I got to attend college later in life. While attending Northern Illinois University, I became good friends with a woman named Kim Myers. She and I became officers in an organization called students who are non-traditional, or SWAN. We have been friends in college and we remain friends to this day. Her son Michael, who is an EEM S,was there to provide medical attention for those who need it. Mike and I only talked briefly, as he was summoned by his partner because they were needed to attend to someone’s medical need.

Inside the tent we found Aaron Scheidies, who as I wrote earlier, should be in Brazil right now at the Paralympics trial. Aaron ran the Chicago Marathon in two hours and 40 minutes. Like I said, Aaron is an amazing athlete.

As we were walking out of Grant Park we walked on a paved path. At some point, Chris and Bryon wanted to sit down in the grass and relax, so we did. When we got to our feet again, Chris noticed that we were next to a gate, that if we passed through it, it was a shortcut to the sidewalk that we wanted to get to, however, there was a security guard standing by the gate.

There were two ways to get to the street that we wanted to get to; one way was to follow the paved path that everyone else was taking, the long way, or, the short way, through the gate where the security guard was standing. We asked the security guard if we could go through the gate, and he said no, and directed us to the path that everyone else was walking on. With that, Chris told me to take his elbow and we began walking. The security guard then saw what was going on. He understood that Chris was leading me, a blind runner, and he changed his mind. The security guard then stopped us and told us that we could go through the gate and he opened it. Quite a departure from the security guard we faced in the morning who would not allow us into our start corral for the marathon.

On our walk back to the Ogilvie train station we countered several homeless people. Once at the station Chris and I had two huge burritos. Bryon did not eat, as his stomach was still upset from eating all the Gu gels that he ate while running the marathon. That was something I could identify with. Normally, I eat GU gels while running Marathons and have problems with my digestive system. Today I brought with me a energy bar that I had broken up into pieces and put in a plastic bag to eat. That bar was a lot gentler on my stomach.

We got on the train that went back to Elburn, from there we got into Chris’s car and he drove me home and dropped me off. Then Chris and Bryon went on their way back to Oregon. I was home. What a great day.

Total miles-28

WGN TV Chicago interview, October 9, 2014

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, Chris and I rode the commuter train in from Elburn, Illinois, to the Ogilvie train station, located in downtown Chicago. We arrived at around 7:45 PM. From there we took a cab. The cab was fairly new and had only a few thousand miles on it. The driver was very proud of his new, fuel efficient vehicle. The driver told us that he was going to be starting his own business at some point in his homeland of India. With all of his talking, he drove past the hotel where we were to stay for that night, the Inn at Lincoln Park in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. He only drove past it by perhaps two blocks.

When Chris and I walk, instead of me holding her elbow, as I do with most people, Chris and I walk hand-in-hand. As we walked towards the hotel it was evident that Chris was being pulled away from me by some unknown force. Oh no. The force that was pulling Chris away was a shoe store with women’s shoes in the window. Fortunately, the shoe store was closed.

When Chris and I got to the hotel, we found that it was an older building, so the elevator was very small (think two adults, tight fit). The room was kind of small also, but actually quite nice. For me, this was a lot of fun to have Chris on one of my adventures away from home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014, Chris and I got up early for a nice casual start to the morning. We went downstairs in plenty of time for Amy Kozyra from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to pick us up. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the continental breakfast had already been opened. When Amy picked us up she had her boyfriend in the car with her. I forget his name but he was a very pleasant young man. From there we went to the WGN studios. I remember I was very young when it was built. The WGN studios are not very far from where I grew up.

Inside WGN TV we met Demetrius Ivory in the ‘green room’. He offered to give us a tour and led us into the studio where they were doing the morning news live. Demetrius is the man who would be interviewing me. He is the 4 to 6 am weather man. Once inside the studio we patiently waited for an opportunity to have pictures taken of us behind the news anchors desk. I did not know this was going to happen, but it certainly was a fun opportunity.

While I stood inside the studio, the woman who does the traffic report, Erin McElory, came over and shook my hand. As often times happens, in situations like this, I’m not quite sure what’s going on. I really didn’t realize who she was, I just did what you’re supposed to do, shake hands. Later, I learned who she was. What a nice thing for someone like her to do. Pat Tomasulo, the sports anchor, also was able to leave the desk to shake my hand. The others were behind the anchor desk doing the live show.

After we took pictures with the WGN morning news team, Chris, Amy, Demetrius, and the cameraman (Eric/Erik) and I headed over to a park close to the WGN studios. This park is near the north branch of the Chicago River. This is one of the places I used to play as a child, maybe in my early teens.

While we were waiting for the cameraman to get set up, there was a smell like a skunk. Demetrius mentioned the smell as being like a skunk, then said something about students. I really didn’t realize what was going on and could not understand why he would make the comparison between students and skunks. It turns out the skunk-like smell was coming from students going to Lane Technical High School. They were smoking marijuana in the park. There was a group of probably 10 to 12 of them, all of them with book bags.

Once the cameraman was set up, Demetrius began the interview at various locations in the park. One of them was on a cold concrete bench. He and the cameraman decided that I should wear my light jacket to cover up the words ‘Blind Runner’ on my Cystic Fibrosis Superheroes T-shirt. We were going to save the part, that I am blind, for last. We also took shots of Demetrius and I just walking. I was holding into his elbow but they tried to hide that fact to make it appear that I was fully cited.

As often happens with these videos for news pieces, we took many of the same shots over and over again. Then, Demetrius led me in sighted running guide fashion. He, like many people, was a little nervous at first, but found that it is really very easy to do. We did bump up against each other from time to time and I told him that running with me is a contact sport. He got the joke and had a good laugh.

While Demetrius was interviewing me, Amy and Chris had a nice chat about women’s shoes. It turns out that when Amy was a little girl she, like my daughters, liked the shoes called jellies. I learned this later.

After Demetrius was done interviewing me, he and Amy went off to the side so he could interview her for the same news piece. After the interview was completed, Amy drove Chris and I back to the Ogilvie train station. We learned that when Amy drives her car to work, she has to pay $16 a day to park near her building, or maybe it is in her building, so, she generally takes the bus from home to work. This is not unusual for people who live and work in a major city.

When Chris and I got home, Chris used my IPhone so she could take a picture of a pair of jellies that she has displayed in a room to send to Amy. Chris has never really attempted to use my IPhone to take pictures with before, but she was motivated to do this because of her and Amy’s mutual interest in women’s shoes. Using an IPhone to take a picture is probably not normally challenging, but my IPhone has the accessibility feature turned on. With the Accessibility feature, the user taps once to identify that they are on the right feature that they want to use, then they have to quickly double tap to actually make it work. So, yup, it was challenging for Chris, but she was motivated, because the subject matter was shoes. I am sure that most women can identify with her motivation and her love for women’s shoes.

October 17, 2014 ~ Mileage update

Total miles at the end of August were 1652.

Add October 12th’s Chicago Marathon 26.2 miles, plus walking distance to and from the train, a total is 28 miles, for a total of 1680 miles.

Miles for Wednesday, October 15th in Madison, WI, were 20.75 miles.

Miles for Thursday, October 16th, Madison, WI, were 21.85.

Total miles to date are 1722.6.

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

Day 90, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Way back when, Nellie Degen told us that we needed to contact the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in various towns to get the police involved in the run. Well, the person who was our contact at the Chamber of Commerce in the city of Tomah did that for us. She did that to secure rides from my hotel to the running track and back again when we did not have any other rides available. This morning would be our first involvement with the police for that purpose.

A Lieutenant from the Tomah Police Department picked me up a little after 7:00 from my hotel. Before going to the high school running track, we had one stop to make. Any guesses?  That was the first time I ever went through a McDonald’s drive through in a police car.

Yesterday I received a call from a Mister Hagen, from the Hagen Sports Network. He wanted to do a piece on me at the track this morning. As the Lieutenant and I rode to the high school track, I brought up Mister Hagen. The Lieutenant knew him. Sure enough, when we got to the track the two men were on a first name basis – Gregg Hagen, and…..(I’m not sure of the Lieutenant’s first or last name).  The two got into a discussion about local high school sports. I am guessing that Gregg covers quite a bit of the local school sports because of his knowledge of the various teams and players.

As I walked onto the running track with my hands full holding a drink holder with two drinks and bag from McDonald’s, Gregg nervously instructed me to move “Over there.”

“I want to put my food down at a spot where I will be able to find it later,” I said. “Over here,” he said. “Where,” I asked. “Here, he said nervously again.

I got the feeling that the man didn’t get the concept of me being nearly totally blind, and/or, he was very pressed for time.

I found a spot along the edge of the track and put everything down and said, “I’ll just put everything there as long as you show me where it is later.” “Sure,” he said nervously.

Then he said, “Stand over there.” “Where?” I asked. “There.”

Okay, one of us is not getting this, so I politely instructed him on what I could, and could not, see.

Do you know what affect that had on him? None. We went through the same conversation again until, while laughing, I pointed and said, “Is it there?” “No.” “Is it there?” “No.” “Am I getting warmer?” “Yes.”

Finally, he said , “That’s it.” Whew, I was already hungry, and now had worked up even more of an appetite.

Apparently I was facing the camera when Gregg asked me some questions. After he was done he said he would send me a CD of the interview and took down my home address, but, he wasn’t done. He asked if I would run around the track so he could video me running. “Sure,” I said, and began running around it.

Lap after lap I ran. Four laps equals one mile, and at every mile my Garmin buzzes to indicate that I had completed another mile. One buzz, a second buzz, a third and a fourth. Was he ever going to be done getting enough video of me running on this track?

“Hello,” I yelled, but, no answer. I kept yelling as I went around the track, but no answer. Then one of the grounds people just happened to be walking onto the track near me. He asked who I was looking for, and I told him. “He left quite a while ago,” he said.

“Nice,” I thought. Gregg just didn’t get it about my lack of eyesight at any level. He didn’t even tell me when he was done shooting the video and leaving. Oh, well, I got a few more miles in before enjoying breakfast.

“Breakfast?” “Now where in the world is my food?”

All I knew is that I left it along the side of the track, but where? Ever so slowly I walked along the outer edge of the track, hoping to “see” something different, something that contrasted against the dark track surface and ground next to the track. I had to go around two laps before I found my food. By then it was cold. Well, beats going hungry.

At some point good old nature was calling, so I headed off to the men’s room. Locked. This is not good.  I tried the ladies room. Open. Fortunately the door locked from the inside, so I used it.

Later I encountered one of the grounds keepers and asked if the men’s room could be opened. “No problem” he said. What a relief. It’s the little things in life that makes a difference.

With nothing else to do while running, I thought I would play with my cell phone and see if I could get it to work somehow and make calls. I’ll be dipped. If I went into “contacts” and tapped on someone’s phone number, it dialed it. Sweet! Then I went into “Recents” and did the same thing. It worked also. So SIRI was useless, but I could “manually” make calls to people whose phone numbers I had in my phone.

When I was at mile 16, the weather got ugly. The wind was kicking up and it began to rain. Fortunately, I had packed my poncho and put it on. Just as I wrapped up mile 20, it stopped raining. Nice.

I called the Tomah police department dispatch for a ride back to my hotel. The dispatcher sent Sergeant Patterson.

There are some people that I have met in my life that, within seconds, I get a strong sense that they are “rock solid.” Sergeant Patterson is certainly one of them. I really enjoy learning about people, and so, wanted to know about Sergeant Patterson. He did a stretch in the military, then he told me something that will stick with me for ever. The conversation began by him telling me that next winter is predicted to be worse than last winter’s. Last winter was very cold and snowy. For Chicago, which is not very far from Tomah, it was the third coldest,and second snowiest. Chicago missed being the snowiest by 0.4 inches. Now that’s a bad winter.

Sergeant Patterson went on to say that he used to like the cold, but last winter he responded to a call of “shots fired.” When he arrived on the scene at a residence, someone was shooting from the house. He got out of his car and was forced to remain away from it for three hours as the temperature plummeted. By the time the police apprehended the individual who was shooting, Sergeant Patterson was so cold every muscle in his body hurt. To this day, just a little cold and his muscles hurt.

I gained a new appreciation for police from listening to the Sergeant’s story. On TV and in the movies, such a scene would be shot in nice weather. There would be no snow on the ground, and every police officer would be comfortable as far as the temperature and clothing match-up.

To me, it is one thing to be in the military and face hostile gun fire, as that’s where you expect it, but to be in a small town America? That’s quite a very different image for me.

There was something about talking with Sergeant Patterson that made me feel very patriotic. It continues to stick.

And get this. Sergeant Patterson said he was honored to give me a ride. (Which of course, included a trip through a McDonald’s drive through.). He was honored? I assure you and him, it was I that was honored to receive a ride from a police officer, especially from this man. A man who helped me raise the bar of pride I feel to be an American.

Total miles today: 20.38

Day 89, Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ah yes, life with nearly non-existent eyesight has its funny moments.

This morning a young woman named Christina picked me up from my hotel to take me to a high school track. She and I were to be interviewed by a local newspaper reporter named Jordan at the track. I met her in the lobby and she led me to the passenger side front door. Then she went around to the other side of the car and got in, however, as we began to pull out, a deep voice spoke from the driver’s seat. Whoa, what?

It was her husband Perry who was driving. Christina had gotten into the back seat. They also had their eleven year old daughter and ten month old son with them. Their son, Liam, has cystic fibrosis. Their daughter does not.

Ah yes, but first stop? Yep, McDonald’s for my breakfast burritos.

When we got to the track the reporter was waiting. She asked me a few questions, but I REALLY prefer that those who either have cf or have loved ones with it become the center piece of local news reports. At some question, I do not recall what it was, I said, “Mom can answer that one better than I can.” I physically stepped back to indicate I was in someway removing myself from further questions for a while, and, oh boy, did both Christina and Perry answer the questions.

Christina answered one question in a way that will forever stay with me. The eleven year old girl is Christina’s from another marriage. Christina said that with her daughter, they had one pediatrician, one doctor, and “Well baby” check-ups. The check-ups had ever increasing time intervals between each one. Check-ups are to monitor the baby’s normal development, all of which is “normal.”

With their son however, they had multiple doctors, most of which were specialists. Liam goes in once a month for his first year of life. That once a month check-up may be extended into his second year, but it all depends on many factors.

So, with her daughter, she would go to the doctor’s office, a nurse would do some of the preliminary examination such as weighing the baby, measuring her and taking her temperature. The doctor would come in and basically say everything looks good and ask if there were any questions.

With Liam, however, they have one specialist after another coming into a room and discussing his or her findings and how Liam is doing compared to “normal babies” and as a baby with cystic fibrosis.
New moms are often a little overwhelmed with “normal” check-ups. Imagine what it must be like to be the mother, and father, of a baby with cystic fibrosis.

I was very impressed with Perry and his knowledge about their son and about cystic fibrosis. In fact, at one point he responded to a question by saying, “I do not think David mentioned this, … .” He filled in a lot of blanks that I had not gotten to. I thought if they were not answered by me in the beginning, I could always come back to them. For me it was important that this family be as much of the article as possible.

Once the reporter was done, we made arrangements for Christina to pick me up later when I was done with my miles.

With us also, was the principal of the high school, Jeff. He wanted to make sure that all my needs were going to be met. Of course one of my main concerns is, “Where is the closest bathroom? and, “Can you or someone guide me to it at least once?” “More if it is a complicated route?”

Jeff did just that. He helped me find navigational markers that would help me easily find the mens room.
At noon Jeff even came out to see if I needed anything to eat. I could join him and others if I would like, but, I have my water, peanut butter and Nutella. I generally do not eat a heavy lunch when I am running. I thanked him and he went on his way, and me on mine – around and around the track.

When I was wrapping up my final mile I called Christina for a ride back to my hotel. She is one busy woman. Along with being a full time mom, she is taking classes and cleans the instruments at a medical facility.

Her personal account of the comparison and contrast between a “normal” well baby check-up and a “cf” well baby check-up will stay with me forever.

Total miles: 20.21

Day 88 Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This was move day; from Eau Claire to Tomah, but not before getting my miles in for the day.

John Fibeger picked me up from my hotel around 7:00 a.m. First stop? Would it surprise you to know it was… . Yep, McDonald’s for a couple of breakfast burrito meals. No, really!

We began at good old Owens’s Park, the starting and finishing place for nearly all of my runs in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

John is a stay at home dad. His wife is a medical doctor. That is now the fourth couple that I have met on the run around the country that have that same combination; mom, a medical doctor, dad, a stay at home dad. I have to say, John is really into being a stay at home dad. He told me about a birthday cake he made for one of his children that was very creative. The excitement in his voice as he told me about it said it all. John was/is a physical therapist, but the couple thought it best for the sake of the children that one of them give up their career.

After the five mile loop and return to Owens’s Park, it was time to run with Zach Halmstead and JAMF software group.

Zach is an amazing success story. He moved away from Eau Claire for a number of years and began his software company. He decided to continue to grow his business in Eau Claire and purchased some land to build a new building on. The land was the site of an eye sore of some kind, I think a former construction materials site. Everyone I talked to has the greatest amount of respect for this man and what he is doing for Eau Claire.

I am not sure how many of his employees joined us, but it was a lot, and a lot of fun. Zach guided me, and on my right was one of his best friends and employees/business partners. These two went back a long way together and had a lot of funny stories to tell about their friendship. .

Later Zach donated $500 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through us. Thank you very much, Zach, for guiding me and such a generous donation.

Next up were the dynamic duo, mother and daughter, Debbie and Katie, who I ran with on Sunday. Good, because rumor had it that Debbie had offered to give me a ride to Tomah today, at least, that’s what I thought she said on Sunday, and yes, the offer was still good.

Katie told me something interesting about a man with cystic fibrosis who decided to run a marathon. He was not able to complete it. Why? Because his body went through salt at a high rate of speed, way too fast, in fact.

When testing for cystic fibrosis, what is tested is the sweat. It is tested for its salt content. If too high, that generally is an indication of cystic fibrosis. It would make sense that physical exertion would accelerate the amount of salt lost through perspiration. My guess is that this man could run a marathon if he would increase his salt intake before and during the run. It’s just a guess, and I would be interested to know if this is true. . .

Next up was Jessica, the statistics professor. She and Matt (The human guard rail) ran with me the first evening I was in Eau Claire. She was to run with me yesterday also, but because of all the confusion and timing issues around the media, we waved it off. I was glad for another opportunity to run with her.

She had worked hard to clear it with the people at the university that we could run on the university track, but, first stop? Would it surprise you to know it was McDonald’s, as I had a hankering for a Mocha Frappe. When we arrived at the university, Jessica was safely guiding me through a maze of sidewalks and outdoor concrete steps. As we approached a set of concrete steps going up, she warned me about them, but my mind wandered to my addiction – the cold, chocolaty, sweet, mocha frappe in my hand. I missed the first step, grazing it and tripping forward. Jessica felt badly, but I assured her, it was all on me. You can lead a horse to water, but … . You can warn someone, but … .

As soon as we began running we got into an incredible conversation. I am not sure how many laps or miles we had run when Jessica said she needed to use the ladies room. Good thing, my bladder was about to burst, but I was so into our conversation that I didn’t want to interrupt it. Once back on the track and at running speed, we picked up where we left off in the conversation, then I felt like someone shook me from a sound comfortable sleep – Jessica said we were running late to get me to the next group of people who were already waiting to run with me.

The conversation with Jessica was perhaps the single most in depth conversation I have ever had. The gist of it was that we were each comfortable with who we are. We understood that to get where we are was a process; a process of trials and errors; a process of gains and losses; a process of always moving, if even in what turned out to be the wrong direction. We were comfortable with the process of being developing human beings. No blaming, no complaining, no shaming, no judgments. Essentially, we both felt safe enough to take off our masks and reveal who we really were. We found no fault with each other, nor the world around us.

To run with the next group, Jessica took me to? Nope, not Owens Park this time. Where? Beats me. Jessica and I said our good-bye’s, and I got on with running with Shelly, Sharon and, oops, I forgot her name, but, what I do remember about her is that she ran more with us than she ever did before. Her longest run to date was a 5k she had recently done. Today she ran a tad over five miles. Pretty good, I say.

Shelly guided me as Sharon and the other woman ran in front of us. I have to tell you, Shelly had her work cut out for her. There was a section of sidewalk that had somewhat of a roller coaster surface to it. Fortunately I had just run this section earlier with Debbie and Katie, so I knew we needed to take it slow. We also crossed a bridge. It seemed like a really cool bridge, but bridges often have “lips” to them. This one was no different.

Where Shelly really had her work cut out for her was in keeping up with Sharon and the other woman. Generally, when I run in a group, my guide and I lead, as we set the pace, slow when we need to for safety reasons, and cruise where we can. Following someone over ever changing surfaces and attempting to keep up with them is a bit tricky for a guide. There were a few times when I stumbled and Shelly thought it was because of her. That made her nervous. I didn’t realize the effect of following others was having on us until later that night when I mentally reviewed the day, so, kudos to Shelly and an awesome job of guiding me.

Shelly took me back to my hotel where I waited just a short time for Debbie and away we went to Tomah. We had a great conversation and the ride went far too quickly. She dropped me off and away she went back home to Eau Claire.

Before she dropped me off, we had stopped so I could grab something to eat, so all that was left was a shower. A much needed shower, and, to let everyone back home know where I was, um, but my cell phone wasn’t working. I went to the front desk to ask if they had any ideas why that is.

You know, I went across Montana and North Dakota, where populations are sparse, yet I never had any problems with cell phone reception. Turns out Tomah has very poor cell phone reception. I have A T & T. Tomah is Sprint and one other carrier. Even at that, everyone said that Sprint works better during one part of the day, while the other carrier works better during the other part of the day. Not good.

The hotel clerk even attempted to set my iPhone up to work through their Wi-Fi, but, no stogie. The clerk let me use his phone so I could call Renee. She then relayed to Chris that I was unable to make and take calls.

Total miles today: 20.66.

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