When Josh Warren, of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, first asked me to guide at Boston 4 years ago, I of course said yes. But shortly after agreeing, I also became the most nervous and anxious I’d been in a long time. I instantly started sweating, and I hadn’t even laced up my sneakers yet – oh boy.
I’d never guided before, let alone met a person who was blind – my only exposure was the character Mary from America’s beloved TV show Little House on the Prairie. I felt doomed from the start, but that all changed once I met David Kuhn, a runner from Dekalb, IL who is visually impaired and was in need of a sighted guide for Boston.
I should let you know that when I’m nervous I often have a severe case of word vomit and I’ve been known to ask some oddball questions now and again. In a previous life, I should have been a news reporter. That being said, David was in for some interesting company on one of the hardest marathon courses out there.
Fast forward to race morning and we’re packed tight, sardine in a can tight, in our corral waiting to start the Boston Marathon. The beginning of the race is a lot of stop, go, and walk, but I soon realized David and I share a mutual love of chocolate. Like a deep undying, infatuation with chocolate, especially peanut butter cups. I used it to my advantage along the course and anytime it seemed we might lag a bit, I described how there would be globs of gooey peanut butter chocolate heaven at the finish line if we kept running.
Reading the signs as we passed by Wellesley college was a favorite moment of mine. David cracked up at all of the posters, the students were creative, writing things like “I won’t tell your wife” and “It’s hot, but so are you”! I tried to read off the dirtiest signs to keep the laughter going.
A friend of mine mentioned she would be on the course around mile 20 and asked if we wanted anything race day. When I asked David, he immediately perked up and said “Fig Newtons”! So when mile 20 rolled around, David’s pace picked up and was ecstatic about his bag of Fig Newtons! That day was a HOT one, so I’m glad he didn’t ask for a bag of chocolate, it would have been liquid goo by the time we reached her!
Looking back on those 3 races I ran with David always puts a smile on my face. Boston is a tough course, and if you add on the unpredictable Boston weather, it can make for a challenging day. Running the race with David makes 26.2 miles seem like a 5k fun run, with lots of goofing around and a grin from ear to ear. I look forward to our next run and will be sure to bring plenty of chocolate!