When I decided to take on the challenge of training for then running my first ever marathon, I knew there would be obstacles along the way. My longest road race to date was the 30K in Sugar Land, Tx last December. I coasted through the first fourteen miles at a steady pace, but the final four and a half were some of the toughest miles I have ever endured. I have been told that there is a saying that "The first twenty miles of a marathon are the first half of the race. The final six miles are the second half." As much physical stress as I will put on my body prior to and during the marathon, there will be plenty of mental stress to overcome. Another difficulty prior to race day is finding a sighted guide to run with me for the 26.2 miles. This is something about which most runners need not worry, but I must find someone to run with me acting as my eyes informing me of runners, obstacles, aid stations, turns, ascends/descends, or anything else along the course. I was pretty confident I had a friend lined up to be my guide, but it fell through so I kept looking for an opportunity to present itself. One friend did offer to ask some of his friends who were planning on flying to Chicago for the October 10 race, but I waited before asking him. The days passed. The training period became shorter and I knew I had to put the word out one more time and hope destiny smiled on me with some potential guides.
Destiny sure smiled as a few friends expressed an interest. One said he wanted to guide, but he knew going the full distance would be a tough task so if I could find someone to split the race with him, he would be up for it. That was a wonderful suggestion! I have never been a guide for a blind or visually impaired person, but I assume it can be quite challenging having to focus on running and breathing then to top it off, communicate with a person so he or she will be as well informed as possible during the race. It is a tough task to ask one person, especially one who has never guided before, to go the distance considering the physical and mental demands. I have decided to show my appreciation for those who offered to guide me for the Chicago Marathon by having two of them guide me. Each will run with me for 13.1 miles. This way both can be at the top of their game and will hopefully not feel overburdened by the responsibility of being my eyes. Thank you to those who volunteered and to those who asked around on my behalf in attempting to find me a guide. Special thanks to the two individuals preparing to guide me on October 10, 2010. Rich Karnia and Peter Mullen. Two men who have never guided before. It will be a memorable experience for all of us and 45,000 of our closest friends, fellow runners, and volunteers.