I had tried to change my sleeping pattern so that when the day came I would be at least a little rested. I was only able to do it for a couple days prior, usually just going to bed very late and waking up early. So the night be fore I got real lucky and fell asleep at 8:30 pm. Sweet!! Then I woke up at 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Not sweet!! So I had 5 ½ hours of sleep to run 13.1 miles blindfolded.
My breakfast was light: 2 bananas, a handful of starwberries and a handful of blueberries. Ryan, my cousin of 23 (almost 24) years came in the day before to guide me through it. He has been running many years and often runs up to 13 miles just for shits and giggles. I’m just doing it for shits.
I wasn’t as nervous as I was expecting. I was feeling ok actually. Ryan and I walked to the red line train at about 5am-ish. I wasn’t sure how trains were gonna run on a Sunday, but it came reasonably quick. And as we got to each stop the train was filling up more and more with people wearing ballcaps, running sneakers with orange bands on them, skimpy shorts and ipods attached to their upper arms. It was a bit on the chilly side but still fairly humid. Ryan and I decided to wear clothes over our running gear and find a place to hide it at the start line and hope it would still be there after, but the clothes we wore we didn’t care too heavily about so if it disappeared no big loss.
We got off at Jackson, as most of the rest of the passengers did as well. We followed the herd to Grant park where you could hear music blaring from giant speakers and you could wait on long lines for the army of Porta Potties occupying much of the space of the grass. People were everywhere. Hundreds…. Thousands!! After a trip to the good ole PP Ryan and I got ready. I doused myself with sun tan lotion, used an anti chaffing roll on my hard to reach places and topped it off with some nipple guards to avoid that pain. Ryan packed a plastic bag up with the lotion and extra clothes and hid it in a tree. Hope its there later.
I didn’t know what “corral” meant when I read it on my registration email I was sent. I was corral 24. Ryan was 21. They place you in different starting areas—“corrals”—depending on how experienced or fast a runner you are. We walked up to path where the runners were been caged, it seemed cage like anyway. We found a good spot for us to start stretching. They had already started letting the first corrals through at 6:30 am. But we had some time til they got to us. I was still feeling pretty good. I took out my blindfold which is something my girlfriend cut off of an old curtain I think, I may be wrong. Its cloth, but reminds me of canvas but softer. Very long and thin. I wrapped it around my eyes three times and still had enough to double knot it. I made sure I could not see out of it and that no sun could get in. In doing so, the wrap covered a good portion of my face and even my ears.
I put my hands on Ryan’s shoulders and we shuffled into the crowd. There was a man and woman (John and Anne) hosting the event and announcing each corral as it crossed over the start line. They sounded like bad morning talk show hosts, “Good Morning, Chicago!!”. That type. They were trying to do rhymes with the corral numbers: “Corral number 8, you guys are great!!”, “Corral number 9, looking fine!!”. That type. I couldn’t wait to start running just to get away from them. It was slow moving. We were in Corral 22 even though neither of us was 22. Finally we were next!!...... Can’t rhyme 22 guys? Okay. Here we go!! 7:08 am we are off!!
My goal for the race was to not be eliminated and finish. I didn’t care if I was last. But secretly I wanted to break 3 hours. We were running pretty good. I go fairly slow. On the treadmill when I train I go about 5mph. My hope was to do a mile and walk for 60-90 seconds every mile. Unexpectedly we took a PP break at the first water stop. One mile in and I’m already behind. Then we took another PP break at 4 mile mark I think, maybe 5.
I learned early on that my original idea of holding Ryan’s elbow wasn’t going to work. I had to hold on to the top of his shoulder. And in my other hand was my folded up cane. Ryan had written “curechm.org” on both of my arms with marker, but the suntan lotion faded it.
The difficult parts of the race were when I wanted to run faster and couldn’t because other people were going slower in front of us. Zig Zagging in and out and around people is more difficult when you are two people wide and one can’t see. So I was getting more and more frustrated with stopping and starting and being dragged in all different directions. That stuff was really hard.
The things I was most worried about were my back and feet and cramping. In my training I ran 11 miles once and when I got off I could barely move because my back was so messed up. Since then I’ve been going to a chiropractor on a semi regular basis. My feet have been bothering me for years. But when I lost weight they were feeling better, until I started running long distances. Then they started hurting and throbbing again. I got new insoles on the advice of Cathy from Runner’s Edge. Thank you Cathy. They helped a lot.
As we ran people were coming up to us and telling us how great we were doing, they used words like “amazing”, “inspiring”, etc. Was I the only one out of 20,000 people running blindfolded? I guess so. Those words were great and very helpful.
I must say that by the 10th mile I was anxious to get to the finish. I’ve had a lot of water and GU packs (energy shots). And although I was feeling fairly good physically I think mentally I was working to keep it together. Being blindfolded and not in control of anything was kinda hard.
Oh I forgot about my neck! I was noticing while running that my head would fall back and I had to be conscious of keeping my head straight. It was feeling tight and that made me worry about that.
Anyway, I had abandoned the 3 hour finish half way through the race. But when we were coming up on the finish line, I extended my cane, and tripped over the finish line. But I made it!! And I made it in 2:59:55. I beat the time I wanted by 5 seconds!! Sweet!!! We got some water, a popsicle and our bag was still in the tree. All in all a very triumphant day. Now I’m thinking of doing the Chicago Half Marathon on Sept 12th. I just need a running partner.
Thanks to all those who have been sending kind words and donating money to the cause. You can still sponsor me at
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Thank you so much.