Running



23 Apr 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy running the Boston Marathon 2016, eyes closed, with Jose.As most hopefully are aware, Jose Acevedo and I just completed a particularly difficult battle of determination against my medical challenges and the Boston Marathon course. Although we fully understood my very present and worsening medical condition was going to make this experience exceedingly difficult, my reality is that I feel badly for that impact upon his experience. In response to that feeling, I wanted to apologize every moment I felt my situation affect our experience. I was so frustrated at not being able to prevent these effects that I ultimately wanted to take action in some way and this led to the many “I’m sorry”s, which were well meaning. Unfortunately it isn’t necessarily helpful to hear these apologies again and again, especially as Jose fully understood this was a likely part of the challenge and he too was unable to do anything to make it better for either of us. It wasn’t that I had less sincerity in each apology, or that he doubted that sincerity. It simply wasn’t helpful and didn’t do much to make either of us feel better.

Jose and Randy running together in the Boston Marathon 2016Somewhere in the Newton Hills as we talked our way through this aspect of our communication, we reached an epiphany. I had expressed my thankfulness for his understanding and acceptance of the challenge. I expressed this with the notion of the benefit I was trying to achieve for myself in taking some action. I mentioned that in truth I felt guilty about believing I was “causing” a negative aspect for him. I understood only a bit that my repeated apology was just another slight negative. Jose brought it to clarity for us both by welcoming my gratitude as a positive. How simple a notion!

It is obviously good and right to apologize when we have done something to cause detriment to someone, whether by intent or inadvertently. It is equally positive and proper to realize the expression of thankfulness for someone’s choices in managing the challenges we create for them. That approach puts the emphasis on something so much more beneficial for each of us that it will certainly get my consideration as I stride forward in life. There were many lessons shared on the path of the Marathon which will continue far beyond the route from Hopkinton to Boston. I hope this one may enhance some perspectives for some of you, as I know it will for Jose and me going forward!

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9 Apr 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose running and determined

Jose and Randy are determined!

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of us will face times in our lives which challenge us to our very core. Sometimes this is of our own making and sometimes it is part of the world in which we live. I am embroiled in one of my more difficult medical challenges and the impact upon me physically, mentally and emotionally has been tremendous.

I’ve been asked when I’ll cancel my Boston Marathon participation and I understand the question as well as the intent behind it. The real answer is not yet, and hopefully not at all, which I suspect may cause those who do not truly know me to take umbrage with that response. I think those who know me–which includes my supportive wife Tracy and my Boston Marathon guide Jose–will understand I do not make any of those decisions without thorough investigation, competent advice and reasonable evaluation.

Another blog here talks about my medical situation, and the reality is that it will not be resolved in the short term and I will not be entirely healthy while undertaking the Boston Marathon this year. I have had to choose to forego much of the final weeks of training to properly tend the medical concerns and that means I’m unwell and insufficiently prepared to accomplish the Marathon in a traditional approach.

My doctors are very clear that the running will not put me at any increased detriment for my condition, and in fact they suggested exactly the opposite–that the perseverance, drive, and determination which have been my hallmark will be part of how this helps me overcome the present challenges. That confidence and the caring support of so many around me are a significant part of my decision to continue with the plan to run the Marathon unless something significant suggests that would be wrong.

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

This Marathon won’t be about trying to match last year’s time of 3:50:37, but rather something more powerful. It will be in part a celebration with my cherished friend Jose Acevedo for all that we’ve accomplished together. It will be a celebration of the most iconic Marathon. It will celebrate friendship, community, perseverance, and determination which we’ve each needed in our lives.

It will be all the more epic for all the setbacks and challenges that could have easily let us choose to not line up together in Hopkinton. There were many times that choosing to not run seemed likely or appropriate and we kept a calm focus that this would be acceptable, supporting each other no matter what. We remain equally committed to giving each other support and encouragement to keep the hope and potential present, as often as possible and for as long as we can.

Now that will pay dividends as it seems likely we have the opportunity to overcome all the adversity and savor one of life’s most rewarding experiences: the opportunity to be involved in a meaningful experience together.

I hope you’ll find a way to help be part of our team on that day and beyond.

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19 Mar 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose running and determined

Jose and Randy run the California International Marathon in December 2014.

April 18, which is the 120th running of the Boston Marathon, is rapidly approaching! This is my second time and I’ve learned enough from the first to reach out and ask you for your help and support in any of several possible ways. I believe so much in TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) and would love to add you to the team in all or some of the below ways. Whether you can join in or not, I’d appreciate your consideration to share this post and help us connect with more support for the opportunities ahead.

1) There are times along the course where just a little encouragement or friendly voice may help. Despite the thousands upon thousands along the route, I’m building an audio file which I can play when I need to hear the encouragement of a friendly voice along the way. If you email me a short audio file (less than 30 seconds please) which starts with “Hi Randy this is (You) and I just wanted to say…”, I’ll put them into one larger file and play them for that extra motivation. Please have all of these to me no later than April 10 so we can finish the file and have it ready for Marathon Monday!

2) If you aren’t running the Boston Marathon–or even if you are!–maybe you can join us for the NHAB 3K Walk for Sight on June 4! We have a team and would love to have you be part of our team as a walker or donor. It’s a very reasonably priced event with a chance to spend some quality time while helping support both 2020 Vision Quest and New Hampshire Association for the Blind. I’d always rather you walk with us, but if you can’t, perhaps you’d consider donating to one of the walkers on our team? While I don’t seek donations directly for Boston, I welcome the notion of a donation through this walk/fund raiser!

Join or donate to our team or me directly via our team page. This is our second largest fundraiser for 2020 Vision Quest and a family friendly event complete with a puppy kissing booth, barbecue lunch and so much more.

3) Finally whether you send me a supportive audio file, join or donate for the NHAB Walk or not, you can help us by sharing the 2020 Vision Quest charity with friends and family. We are always trying to increase our outreach of our website, our social media, and mission. Please consider taking the time to share us with those who will help us build a stronger community of support for the valuable work we undertake and for the positive influence we hope we can have in their lives as well.I’d love to see our Facebook community reach the 5,000 benchmark this year, I’d love to see our walk team reach the 100 walkers who shared in 2012, but mostly I want to see the work we undertake continue to make a difference in the lives of the students to whom we present and the blind services we support at NHAB and Guiding Eyes!

Now back to training for Boston and advancing the 2020 vision!

Randy and Christine cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon 2015.

Randy and Christine cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon 2015.

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16 Jan 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose running and determined

Jose and Randy run the California International Marathon in December 2014.

“We do not plan to fail, we fail to plan.” – Lorrie Ross

I was excited to announce that my good friend and fellow 2020 Vision Quest Board Member, Jose Acevedo, would be running as my guide for the Boston Marathon. But now it’s time for the discussion of some details. Just making the announcement won’t help either of us run the Superbowl of road races. It takes a plan and plenty of hard work in implementing the plan.

Most marathons require roughly 18 weeks of training in order to prepare for the endurance experience impact upon the body. Running it as a team requires being in synchronicity sufficiently to ensure the best chance of success. So Jose and I reached out to Greg Hallorman, a good friend and excellent run coach. We use a modified version of the Hal Higdon training program with a few lessons from our past marathon experiences.

Having very successfully run the California International Marathon together in 2014, we understand fairly well how to work together. There is an additional burden on my guide to be able to find their comfortable pace for not only running their marathon but having the reserves mentally and physically to be my guide. This includes the breathing room to call out warnings of obstacles we might not be able to simply steer around such as a pothole or manhole cover. It involves tracking not only the pathway they are running, but the wider path for me with an extra bit of attention to provide warning time for me when those obstacles cannot be avoided. The guide often has to alert other runners of our presence and the visual challenge to help us be good citizens to our fellow runners. On the very crowded Boston course this can be an especially significant challenge.

Given these factors, Jose set our goal race pace as 8:40 minutes/mile as our target. This was the basis for our plan. Added to this is the expectation that four days per week of running was the right and reasonable limit for the rest of our busy schedules.

This does not mean that we only train on four days, however. There are two additional days of cross training for roughly an hour each time. These days help develop a different range of muscle motion, enhance our cardiovascular conditioning as well as hopefully support our body clearing lactic acid build-up from the running. Jose often uses his Kilimanjaro favorite of stair climbing at his high-rise office building, I tend to visit my local YMCA and put the time on an indoor bicycle. Many alternatives can exist to help supplement the core run training with cross training.

While staging to ever longer runs as we near the April 18 Boston Marathon date, our typical week might look like this glance for the week of January 18:

Jose on a training run.

Jose on a training run.

Monday: 60 Minutes of Cross training

*Thanks to Rick Perreira who drives me to the YMCA Each Monday Morning, helps me with the touch screen cycles and takes me home!

Tuesday: 5 mile run with 4x hill repeats in the middle (alternates weeks with speed intervals)

*Thanks to Tracy for pushing me and helping with the timing on the key points of this hard workout!

Wednesday: 60 Minutes of Cross training

*Thanks to Alex Newbold who drives me to the YMCA each Wednesday morning, helps me with the touch screen cycles, and takes me home!

Thursday: 6 miles of “tempo run,” meaning 2 miles of warm-up at 9:00 minutes/mile, 3 miles of “lactic threshold”at 8:10 minutes/mile, and 1 mile cool-down at reduced/recovery speed like 9:30 minutes/mile.

* Thanks to Matt Shapiro who works hard to give me this very early morning speed push most Thursdays!

Friday: My one rest day to recover and prepare for the weekend push!

Saturday: 6 miles of race pace (8:40 minutes/mile)

Sunday: 11 mile “easy pace” run (8:45-9:15 typically)

* While we often switch Saturday and Sunday, Rob Webber has been steadfast on longer and faster runs with various guides or treadmill options for the other day as necessary!

Those weekend-long runs will rise to 20 miles and as the snows fall, roads become icy and temperatures can drop; training for Boston is simply a challenge. Meanwhile my counterpart in Jose will contend with Texas temperatures and we check in with each other regularly to see if our progress remains encouragingly comfortable. All this work for an incredible celebration together as we share the legendary experience which has become the Boston Marathon. Hopefully some of you will be helping us out with encouragement throughout the training and especially on our big day.

Boston Strong!

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9 Jan 16

By Randy Pierce

“Long after the names of the medalists have faded from our minds, you will be remembered for having finished, for having tried so hard, for having a father to demonstrate the strength of his love for his son. I thank you, and I will always remember your race and I will always remember you – the purest, most courageous example of grit and determination I have seen.”

– 1992 Canadian Olympic Athlete to Derek Redmond

My friend and running coach, Greg Hallorman, recently shared the below video with me. While he unsuccessfully searched for a more audibly descriptive video than what I’m sharing below, I had the power of his emotional description in support. What transpires in this video is one of the strongest demonstrations of grit, determination, and parental love. It moved me and I hope it may do similarly for all of you. All of us no doubt face moments when we may wish to quit. Quitting is an option only when we succumb to the urge to quit. There are many ways to win, most notably giving your absolute truest and best effort to the goal – especially when it’s about succeeding far more than winning.

Here is the video of Derek Redmond, a British 400-meter champion. In the semi-final round of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he begins strong when an event occurs to change his life. It involves his choice, his father’s choice, and the crowd’s choice, and readily becomes one of the most memorable moments of Olympic history. I hope you’ll choose to watch and experience it for yourself:

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29 Nov 15

By Randy Pierce

Peter Houde and Randy running at the Boston Marathon 2015.

Peter Houde and Randy running at the Boston Marathon 2015.

While there have been many blogs about why and how I run, there are precious few to talk about the incredible number of  blind athletes brought together by Richard Hunter, the USABA, and many other organizations responsible for the National Marathon Championship held at the California International Marathon December 6, 2015. I cannot say enough good things about this event, the inspirational people behind the scenes and the incredible stories which will join me on the course.

As such, let me just encourage you all to visit an excellent blog about the event.

Note: You’ll find my bio in the list along with some incredible individuals with whom I’m proud to be sharing a course.

For those perhaps connecting to the event more personally through me, here’s a little bit of information. There are three divisions of visually impaired runners. I’m the B1 division. This is the effectively total blindness category. While B2 and B3 each have significant vision impairment, they have some level of usable vision. Not surprisingly, the B3, most sighted of the divisions, typically has the fastest race times as well.

I always run with a sighted guide and we use a rigid tether. Guiding me this year will be a pair of sighted runners each taking a half of the race. First up is a volunteer whom I have yet to meet except via email. A local of New England, he lives in the Bay area and has very kindly agreed to take me the first 13.1 miles to where I’ll meet up with my friend Peter Houde who is flying out with me. Many may recall Pete from his Guide work in the first half of the Boston Marathon this year. This time he gets to cross a finish line with me!

There’s no doubt Kilimanjaro and my Achilles impacted my run training, but I did make a late push and think I’ll be improving significantly on last year’s finish time. While I placed first in B1 last year, there are several new runners and even a few international competitors who will be running under the 4-hour mark to push me to be at my best. I’m hoping to be under 3 hours and 45 minutes if all goes well.

For those wishing to follow me, our 2020 Vision Quest website and social media will hopefully be sharing ways to get updates and providing them as best possible. I’ll be using Runkeeper and broadcasting my run live through that application. With the race starting at Folsom Prison at 7 am PST, I’m hopeful to be finished by 11 am pst. I’ll be staying for the awards ceremony to celebrate all the victors and whether I place or not I know I’ll give my very best and bring home another collection of experiences to share.

So let’s wish for good running weather and many healthy and happy participants who will have won a much more important race when they all chose to believe in the celebration of “Ability Awareness” first and foremost!

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31 Oct 15

Autumn with pumpkins.By Randy Pierce

“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

I am overwhelmed as the return from Africa has been a steady stream of busy in catching up with schools, presentations, our Peak Potential dinner, Marathon training, Lions Presidency and so many more things. Not surprisingly this has led to several mornings of feeling overwhelmed. There are times when figuring out the priority of things takes more time than I can reasonably want to spend and so I often dig right into the work. The trouble is this can lead to me feeling exhausted and at times be a surefire formula for my having a migraine, which only serves to set me further behind.

So in this blog I’m going to share just a couple of the healthier ways in which I cope and to invite you all to help me a little with my work. Autumn is pictured above because she is one of my best means of getting a little mental meditation and recovery. Whether it’s our morning walk forcing me to take time to get out and appreciate the world with her, the play session after that work or during a break or the curl up on the floor snuggle-fest which for those of us who can take solace in time with our pets is simply fantastically beneficial.

Randy and Jose running and determined-smallWhile Autumn prefers the take it in stride approach of the walk, a second method is the mindset behind my running. Marathon training is a lot of work and I can all too easily view it as a chore in advance. The thing is that once I’m actually running, I find it easy to switch the mindset and fully embrace the experience. It’s a chance to escape from the other work and reach a better understanding of myself. Running to improve and prepare for a marathon is likely going to involve sometimes wanting to quit. The more we expose ourselves to this and push onward, the more we learn to fully understand the difference between a real need to take a break or ease off and our body’s protective measure of keeping something in reserve. This can work for running and for those other challenges which lead me to feeling overwhelmed in the first place. In pushing through I find I increase my ability to recognize that difference and to more comfortably push on when there’s a goal in my reach.

So what does this all have to do with you helping me? I was late in getting to this blog this week and my work load has eased back my creative inspiration to write this. So why not drop me a Tweet, Facebook comment, or blog comment telling me about what types of blog posts you most like and most want to hear more about in the future? Perhaps revisit a few of your favorites and share those as an indicator or give us suggestions for totally new directions of blogs. People often share with me inspirational stories and I probably don’t get to share them often enough in this blog space but I hope those keep coming. Maybe this pause will be your own break from feeling overwhelmed and we’ll have both helped each other a bit… or we could go out for a run together! ;-)

 

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1 Aug 15

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose nearing the finish at their National marathon Championship victory in December 2014

Randy and Jose nearing the finish at their National marathon Championship victory in December 2014.

It’s so easy and fun to share success and celebration and so much more difficult to report on setbacks, failures and injury. Very often I can use determination, willpower, and perseverance to overcome many obstacles and achieve fantastic results. I think occasionally this creates an illusion for some that I do not get mired in frustration or failure at times. Right now I’m in the midst of one of those challenging times which has some ramifications I’m still exploring and trying to find ways to manage properly. I hope it may lend a beneficial perspective for people to get a look inside one of these difficult times for me.

Several weeks ago, I finished a run through Mine Falls which had gone poorly due to some type of stomach bug. As I recovered from that a few days later, I noticed my lower calf into the Achilles tendon was unusually tight. I worked at stretching it but it was fairly minor so I didn’t worry too much. A five-mile outside run with a friend had loosened it up nicely and alleviated my concerns. With Kilimanjaro looming, I broke in new hiking boots on a series of mountain climbs of ever-increasing duration and the tightness seemed manageable through those.

Yet, every faster run or hill-based run soon had the tightness returning and worsening. I have a fair bit of neuropathy in my legs which can mask pain, but soon it was clear to me that the Achilles was sensitive to the touch at an unacceptable level. It was relatively pain-free without my weight on it, but when would lean my knee over my feet with weight, that stretch would be very painful. Every morning I began to hobble a little more. When going down stairs, the back foot would really let me know it was unhappy. It was time for some professional medical explorations.

I halted all training, began a regimen of 4x’s-day ice and Achilles-specific massage while awaiting the appointments. Two weeks of rest with those treatments improved things notably but it hadn’t gone away.  The doctors initially suggested bilateral Achilles tendonitis and a specialist modified the diagnosis to bilateral Achilles tendinopathy. The physical therapy began that same day and continues for a bit of time still ahead.

The harder news is that this condition has an age component and I’m certainly getting older. Often this is not a curable situation as much as it is a managed care approach to minimize the impact. While it absolutely does not presently halt any of my athletic goals ahead, it does add a component of uncertainty.

Kilimanjaro remains absolutely certain at this point. It’s the California International Marathon and the USABA Championships which, while still likely, will require me to be very attentive to continually working with and adjusting a plan for managing the injury and easing into the right training for that injury. My original plan had August 3 as the start of my formal training, but I have not yet even been able to reach out to guides because of the uncertainty of how/when to begin training properly. I may still be a few weeks away from knowing more.

Friend and 2020 Vision Quest secretary John Swenson guides Randy through a water crossing on Mt Liberty.

Friend and 2020 Vision Quest secretary John Swenson guides Randy through a water crossing on Mt Liberty.

So, you may ask, how am I managing my approach?

Overall, I’m fine mentally and emotionally. There is certainly frustration, but I’ve already begun the shift of mentality to accepting my present condition and exploring every possible means to go forward successfully. Well, perhaps not every possible means, as while there are many marvelous home remedies folks might begin suggesting, I need to reasonably limit myself to a targeted plan that has earned my confidence. I’m on the path of that targeted plan right now and will continue to research and undertake with my full determination.

Does that mean I’m not still a little down when my foot hitting the floor each morning gives a little pain and tightness? Of course I feel that frustration, but now I’m as quick to reach for the leash and try the stretch techniques to help it improve and continue to heal. It’s the small steps forward with the long-term goal still in my vision but not overshadowing the need to attend to a lot of small details to manage the immediate challenge. After all, you don’t get to those glorious summits without learning how to manage all the twists and turns of the trail along the path, without learning to get up after each fall and without a little consideration for how to ensure we fall a little less along the way.

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20 Jun 15

By Randy Pierce

“When is the last time you did something for the first time?” – shared at Mt. Snow Tough Mudder and every tough Mudder

TEAMwork at the tough mudderThere is something invigorating and life changing for many of us when attempting something new or facing a particularly poignant challenge. I believe this is amplified when you undertake it as a team due to the power of giving and receiving support along that course. This is the essence of the gifts available during a Tough Mudder. Recently I undertook my third Tough Mudder, all within the last year and all filled with different aspects of the same rewarding result.

I am by no means suggesting that a Tough Mudder is the snake oil cure for all which may ail you. I am, however, confident it is one avenue amongst many for you to challenge yourself to undertake something new, something difficult for you perhaps and most importantly to be part of a team in which you may in equal measure give and receive support towards the goal. I’ve blogged about the Power of Purpose previously and now I cannot well enough express how much I value the rewards of “Team” and how pleased I was to have a school share with me the acronym: Together Everyone Achieves More.

In order to illustrate this in our recent June 7 Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow Vermont, I think it best to refer you to the words of one of my teammates in her blog about the entire experience. Her photos, words and obvious emotional impact highlight the above point as powerfully as any of my own words. Thank you Cathy Merrifield and to our entire team!

Read and be inspired by Cathy’s blog!

 

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23 May 15

By Randy Pierce

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Christopher Reeve

Group shot at the LA Tough Mudder

This month the Oberto Heroes of Summer launched their incredible program with the first four powerful video stories. All of the videos are excellent and I was overwhelmed at how well I thought they portrayed my approach to life in the midst of an epic event, the LA Tough Mudder from March 2015.

Am I a hero? I strive to do the right thing as often as possible. I believe I do some great work on many days and I’m tremendously proud of what I and my many teams have been able to accomplish. I don’t feel like a hero–I feel like a person fortunate and determined to savor this life with which I’m gifted.

I didn’t set out to be inspirational and it still is challenging for me at times to understand how often some people find inspiration in my approach. All I can wish for anyone is that whatever their inspiration, whatever their passion in life, they find ways to pursue their dreams and hopefully find similar success as I feel  has been available to me with determination and hard work. I guess ultimately I believe any of us who learn to help and support each other in reaching goals and dreams deserves some level of the title “hero.” My team on the Tough Mudder, on 2020 Vision Quest, and many other goals are all heroes of mine and I say to you it’s always the right time for all of us to be heroes for each other.

Thank you to Oberto for choosing to share my story and for the many other inspirations I think they will provide to all of us, why not take the time to fill your life with a little something extra today?

Heroes of summer

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