Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chicago Marathon BLINDFOLDED!!! 10/10/10

It's Thursday now. 4 days after the marathon I trained 9 months for. I thought I'd write sooner but I'm finally healing. :)

Last monday I was in the bathroom and thought I should start getting my apartment ready for visitors. As I was cleaning the bathroom sink something pulled in my back. Spasm might be a better word. Luckily I had already made an appointment with my chiropractor for that same morning. My history of back pain goes way back, but training for this marathon has aggravated it quite a bit. I went every day last week Mon-Fri for adjustments. Never feeling 100%, but feeling better. I was concerned about my back for the race. Thats the last thing I need, is a bad back for 26.2 miles.

My training was now getting affected. I had to skip a few training days due to fear. Fear I would damage myself too much to participate.

I was lucky enough to get CBS news interested in what I was doing. And Megan Mawicke came to my gym to interview me.

I was interviewed over the phone by Kyra Kyles for the RedEye and that finally came out the Friday before the race.

Steve Johnson took me to dinner at the Hopleaf and recorded our 2 hour interview. The pay off was a tasty dinner and the cover of the Chicago Tribune.

Jenna Marotta interviewed me and I got a little write up on an online Chicago Mag blog.

My girlfriend came into town on Thursday and my cousin Jenny and Aunt Karen came on Friday (they stayed with friends close by). My mom, Aunt Diane, Aunt Beth (no relation), brother Kevin and his girlfriend Megan came on Saturday. I met with Janelle (cousin in-law) at the airport on Saturday and we headed off to McCormack Place to get our packets for the race. 15115 was my bib number.

All week I was changing my sleeping patterns so I would be ready to wake up at 5am on Sunday. I was as ready as i'd ever be. I woke u on my own at about 3:45am and stayed up. With only 6, or so, hours of sleep I got up and started getting ready. My back felt ok, but I was skeptical. None of it matters at this point. Its happening one way or another.

Janelle stayed with Deb and I. After some fruit for me, a bagel for Janelle, and I'm not sure what Deb ate, we were off. A 15ish minute walk to the redline. Where, with every stop, the cars got more and more crowded with people wearing bib numbers and eating bananas. We got out at Jackson along with the majority, and looked for a place to meet up with everyone else that seemed to be scattered amongst the city.

I stretched out on the grass with thousands of others, also stretching or waiting on line for a porta potty or already set at their assigned corrals. The sun was peaking its head above above the trees which meant it was about time for my blindfold. It's probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 7am now.

I get a round of hugs and good lucks from my support team and Janelle and Jenny and I head for the start. On the way into the open corral CBS news stops me and asks some questions. I talk quickly about my brother, nephew and I losing our sight to Choroideremia. And reason why I have to run with the blindfold and have Janelle and Jenny run with me. I dont know if any of it ever made it anywhere.

I had a laminated sign pinned to my back with my disease on it and a warning to other runners that I am indeed blind. I was going to hold onto Janelles forearm while Jenny would politely ask runners ahead of us to move over because I'm blind and coming up behind them. It all seemed to work out pretty well.

The roads were awful. All the different textures made it especially difficult. Around mile 3 I needed a pee break and it just so happened we were passing a gas station. Perfect! No line for the bathroom and it was alot cleaner than a porta john. That would be my first and last bathroom break for the next 5 + hours.

It was certainly nice to hear people on the side lines or even fellow runners telling e they read about me in the paper or saw me on the news and best of luck and all sorts of kind things. Sometimes I even had people I knew yelling encouraging things from the sides. My girlfriend and family even caught up with me a couple times.

I beat my previous half mile time (even with a bathroom break) by about 1 minute. Not bad. But that was only 13.1 miles into it. We still had another 3 hours to go.

After the 20 mile mark I felt ok I guess. My back was holding up quite nicely and so were my nipple guards, also a concern. Chaffed nipples can be awfully painful and make a long day much longer. It was getting hotter. It probably around noon by now and I still had another 6.2 miles to go. I have never run more than 20 miles in my training and I had always heard the 20 mile mark was the toughest part mentally and physically.

It was around mile 22, i think, where I started wanting to cry. Not because I was in so much pain, because I wasn't really. It was 5 hours of being blindfolded and thinking about what that means and what I'm doing and why. My body was getting tired and fighting tears was hard. I was blindfolded so I don't think anyone noticed but I almost shut down completely verbally. Only talking in whispers... "water", "keep going", "thank you". I fought off tears and just total breakdown for the next 2 or 3 miles.

A couple times my cousin asked if I wanted to stop at the water stations and I didn't even talk I just threw my hand forward to keep going. I was holding my cane folded up the whole time. I did that for the other half marathons I ran too. It works for whatever reason, I like holding it as I run.

I was taking walking breaks pretty much every mile, but that last one. That last one I wanted to run the whole thing. I had heard the last mile goes uphill a bit and what I heard was true. We were going uphill for what seemed like most of it. After I hit 26 miles I tried to increase my speed. Not to show off, but to end it. It was now over 5 1/2 hours of running blindfolded and I had had enough.

My time was 5:37:23. I was hoping to be done by 5:30, but no big deal. It was a hot day and I did my best.

I took my blindfold off but couldn't open my eyes because of how bright it was, even with the sunglasses. I had to keep them closed for a long while. I almost cried when my crying girlfriend hugged me and then my crying mother. It was pretty wild. I was spent and ready to go home. I said my thanks and good byes with my eyes closed and Deb and I took me home. Took a while, but it was nice be back. My legs were sore and behind my left knee felt real bad and tight. Walking up and down stairs was anything but easy. Its finally feeling more second nature now.

I said I'd never run another, but you never know.

Thanks to everyone that supported me and continues to. I greatly appreciate it.

please donate to my $100,000 goal. I'm at around $45,000 of that goal. Thanks so much!!

Much love,

EJ Scott

place (M/W)17291
place (ag)2939
place (total)29530
time total (netto)05:37:23


  1. E.J., you got me all teared up at my work computer here in San Francisco. What an incredible journey. Your family, friends, and your lovely Deb are so awesome with their support. Your dedication to fighting CHM is so inspiring, and reminds me how I could be doing so much more with my energy. I think about finding a cure and stepping up the fight now more than ever myself as a CHM carrier, since Daren and I want to have children in the near future. We will cure this someday, I promise you.

  2. P.S. Count me in for a donation ASAP!!!

  3. This is so inspiring! I ran my first 5k and thought THAT was tough. I can't believe you did it all blindfolded. I am soo impressed! you are such an inspiration and i plan on making a donation! you go boy!! :D

  4. HI E.J. My name is Rachael and I'm Jesse Arnold's (from iO west) girlfriend. I'm living with a chronic illness as well and I just wanted to say that you are a VERY encouraging, inspiring individual! Not just for those living with CHM but to chronically ill patients who struggle daily. Keep up the blog, keep up the running, keep up the inspiration!