February 21st, 2012

The other day T and I were shopping at “The Good Food Store” when we (and when I say we, I mean T) saw my good friend Vickie who works there.

Well since I hadn’t seen Vickie for over a year, we got to reminiscing about some of our adventures on the bike trail where I used to do my long runs when I was training for my first marathon in 2007.

I told several stories about our training runs/bike rides in my book “Running Blind,” but this one particular adventure took place the summer after my first marathon.

I had called Vickie up and asked her if she wanted to ride her bike alongside me while I ran. She readily agreed since we had so much fun the year before.

The day started out cool, but by the time we were nearing the end of a 16 mile run/ride, we were both hot and my legs were sore!

Vickie suggested that we take this little trail off the main bike path in order to get to the creek that ran alongside it.

Well that sounded pretty darn refreshing to me, so I followed as Vickie led us farther and deeper into the thickly covered trail.

All of a sudden Vickie yells, “Oh My! Mosquitoes!!!”

Here I must digress for a moment.

I hate, I mean really, really, really, hate mosquitoes! When I could see, about the only thing that could get me to run in fear was the sight of mosquitoes.

But since I can’t really see them anymore, I have lost some of that primal fear. Don’t get me wrong, I still really, really, really hate them, as I get huge, monstrous welts when I get bitten.

And they itch like crazy, but I don’t seem to get quite as freaked out about them as I used to.

So back to the very hot and dense trail, that was apparently a breeding ground for the little blood sucking creeps!

Vickie is one of the most conscientious people I know when it comes to attending to me as a visually impaired friend. So even though she was freaking out at the bazillions of microscopic vampires buzzing around us, and she was running like the Wicked Witch from a bucket of water in order to get out of mosquito heaven, because she was still attending to my lack of sight, without breaking stride she yelled back at me, “Hold on to the bike seat!  I’m getting us the heck out of here!”

And with that she took off at a dead run wailing and screaming, flapping and swinging her arms all over the place while trying to steer the bike and keep it upright, hoping against hope that I had grabbed hold so she wouldn’t have to venture back into the thicket to drag my welted carcass out of there.

Me in the mean time, I’m holding on to the bike for dear life, knowing that Vickie, even though she loves me, will probably not come back for me if I let go!

So after what seemed like hours of trauma, but was in reality only a few minutes, we emerged from the trail out onto the bike path, Vickie still running, and not stopping until we got to her truck a quarter of a mile away.

Relieved and laughing I said, “That was awful!”

Vickie was busy getting something out of her backpack in the truck. Before I knew what she was doing, still shaking, she put some kind of oil behind my ear.

I said, “What is this?”

Vickie said in a rattled voice, “It’s peppermint oil.”

Hmmm I thought, I never heard of peppermint oil as a mosquito repellent. So I asked her, “Is this to keep the mosquitoes away?”

“NO!” She said, still panic-stricken and breathless, “It’s to Calm us down!”

In all my years, I have never met another person who was more afraid of mosquitoes then I was. Yup, Vickie wins the award for most freaked out!

Needless to say we never did get to the creek that day to cool off.

How ‘bout it?

- Vision Runner

Winter Running – Obstacle Course

February 3rd, 2012

Winter Running – Winter Obstacle Course

So, how goes the winter running now that our big snow storm of 2012  is a distant memory….NOT!  

With over 16 inches of snow in the main event, not a distant memory at all.

Here it is over two weeks later, and there are still quite a few tricky winter obstacles for me to be on the alert for whilst on my winter runs. One very obvious obstacle is ice in all its forms – from black ice to sleet falling from the sky to ice puddles and everything in between.

The morning temps have been in the mid 20’s F, so I know there is going to be ice when I run to work.

And by the time the afternoon rolls around, the temperatures have jumped up a bit into the high 30’s F to sometimes even low 40’s F. So we do have a significant amount of melting of the enormous amounts of snow we received.  Which means winter running is defined as slushy and sloppy in the afternoons, and treacherous and slick in the a.m.

Snow berms created by the plows are another potential tripping hazard. For me it is sometimes hard to see how big, and wide they are when trying to cross over them to get to the street crossing. But I use my white cane to poke and prod at them until I feel I can step on and over them safely.

Of course, the constant freezing and thawing and rain and freezing and thawing and snow always keeps the footing a question mark. Now that I am able to run in the mornings again, I have been wearing my cleats to help keep me upright.

With all of the obstacles thrown at me recently, it kind of reminds me of that ABC show “Wipeout” where they throw obstacle after hazard after spine-jarring spill at the contestants who actually volunteer for that kind of abuse.  (I imagine chiropractors can’t even watch that show for the horror of the trauma voluntarily imposed upon their bodies.)

There is one obstacle that threw me for a loop a few mornings ago.  As I was running down the very clear and easy-to-navigate bike path across town, I noticed that there was some snow in the middle of the path.

Well since I don’t have much 3D vision left, it is always best that I go around things in the path, but for some reason, I don’t know what it is about seeing something, and feeling I have to step on it?

But can you say, “Snow Boulder?”

Yep, a huge chunk of snow had broken off from the large snow bank along the side of the path and rolled right into the middle of the trail.

But I didn’t see it that way. I just saw a white patch on the black asphalt – and of course, I was thinking it was just snow on the trail – not a monstrous ball of snow standing sentry in the middle of the path.

Luckily for me it was so big, I just kind of fell on top of it. Yes, I know you can visualize it, kind of belly flat across it, arms flailing, very startled and amazed that this thing could just kind of sneak up and do me that way.

So I casually-self-consciously stood up, wondering whether anyone got to see such a fabulous display of grace and style, nothing battered but my fantasy of myself as a graceful gazelle, bounding beautifully across the open plains.

But it’s the small snow/ice chunks that are more dangerous to my life and limb, as those ones will send me flying in a more impactful way!

Anyway, I used my Herculean strength and rolled the icy snow boulder off the path, so no one else would fall victim to its hypnotic beckoning to run straight into it.

Yes, I admit – it was larger than life.

But that’s me; I like to run into big things. Just see my blog post entitled “Don’t Worry, The Bridge Is Still Standing” and you’ll see what I mean.

How ‘bout it?

- Vision Runner


Sunday Ice-y Running

January 30th, 2012

On Sunday I decided to try out the trail that heads over towards downtown where I work. I knew some of the city sidewalks to get there were still snow covered and icy.

But it had been close to two weeks since we dug out of our 16 plus inches of snow, and I was curious about the condition of actual bike trail where I like to run. I know that they usually try to keep it pretty clear for bicyclists and pedestrians and runners to have an easy path across town.

So I put on my running shoes and the ice cleats I bought for times when the path is not so clear and dry, and of course, my flashers – oh my!

So the going was still pretty torturous, I mean treacherous –  okay either works in this situation, as I had to go very slow and watch out for…err  rather, “feel” for chunks of snow and ice with my white cane. I knew that they were there just waiting to trip me up and slip me up!

But once I got to the bike and pedestrian trail, it was smooth running, as they did a great job of clearing it.

So, yay!! I got in 12 miles on Sunday, running the bike trail and skating the sidewalks.

Our local running club “Run Wild Missoula” was out doing 13 miles that day, and as I was out running in the same area, I got a big hug from Tim from the Runner’s Edge, our local running store.

It was great to see him. He helped me across some tricky snow berms at the crosswalks. “Thanks, Tim!”

The forecast is for warmer temps, so the route should dry up even better. And maybe the holdouts will actually clear their sidewalks like they’re supposed to (but probably not.)  But the warmer weather means by week’s end I could be back on my normal morning running schedule, albeit with soggy sockies and shoes!

How ‘bout it?

-Vision Runner