Celebrating the 2015 Boston Marathon!

By Randy Pierce

As always, I welcome all forms of support including donations to 2020 Vision Quest Donate

Often my blogs receive careful consideration on both my intent and content. They receive polish from friend and volunteer Beth Foote before you ever get to read them. I’m frequently candid and yet a distance between my thoughts and emotions filters much of what becomes the words and phrasing I choose.

Randy and Guide Thor crossing the Finish line of Cox Providence on 5/4/2014 to qualify for Boston as detailed in “Qualifying for Quinn.”
Randy and Guide Thor crossing the Finish line of Cox Providence on 5/4/2014 to qualify for Boston as detailed in “Qualifying for Quinn.”

Endurance events often strip away our filters and expose us to ourselves. Those along for the journey and the powerful legacy of Boston elevates this beyond measure. So I hope to give you my candid thoughts at several points now and in comments below as we lead into and through my first Boston Marathon experience. I hope you’ll all feel welcome to share any thoughts, questions or observations along the way of this semi-permanent record of our journey.

Thor and I qualified together in a well chronicled experience that absolutely bared much of my inner turmoil through the challenge. I was still so tangled in the absence of Quinn and my drive to honor him. I knew I was not properly prepared and was ready to accept the painful consequences of forcing through the experience to lay the foundation of training and growth ahead. When the shoreline winds began to buffet us at mile 19 or so, I wasn’t sure I could do this. Beyond my blindness the balance challenges were rocking my world in all the wrong ways. Thor’s many marathons, problem solving, calm and encouraging words were likely the difference that day. I was strong in my determination but definitely met my match against the marathon.

I must have questioned my choices nearly a hundred times in the second half of the run and names of people who encouraged me or made a positive impact on my life were how I dealt with those miles and in some points just in each step. Each decision to run when my body had demanded a walk. To lift a leg quivering with muscle spasms and telling me I wanted to quit. People who haven’t been in these experiences with me often perceive an indomitable strength–I’ve been told that many times. Not so by any means, as Thor, Jose, Greg, Meredith, Justin, Tracy and many others know all too well. Determined and willful for certain but one who wrestles with that will as often as most of us I suspect.

Randy and Jose with determination and focus as they close in on the finish which would earn them the B1 National Championship in Sacramento, California on 12/7/2014
Randy and Jose with determination and focus as they close in on the finish which would earn them the B1 National Championship in Sacramento, California on 12/7/2014.

Quinn was my inspiration to returning to running and the reason for this Boston Marathon goal as I detail in our #Miles4Quinn program. It began with our hiking and in the conditioning and training he soon had me running. Most don’t know that Sarah Toney’s support for her sister got her into running and her infectious determination helped push Quinn and me further. Bob Hayes brought us into the road race world and I’ll forever appreciate his contributions to my running and hiking adventures. Jennifer Liang took over for Bob and all along the way my wife Tracy’s encouragement, knowledge, and support helped expand the inclination and opportunity. When my outreach for guides began, many answered the call and began this year of dedicated training. Christine Houde as one of the earliest human guides and half of the husband and wife team who will be my official guides in Boston. She joined me for a snowy first run which set the tone for this winter.

Few, however, answered the call as well as my well cherished friend and “Coach” Greg Hallerman. He believes running has given so much to his life that anyone who wants to run ought to get a little help to achieve. He has overachieved in logging more miles with me than anyone else despite some heroic diligence by Matt Shapiro. Ultimately Greg has taught me as much about life and friendship as he has about running and yet that running has brought me through failures like my Did Not Finish (DNF) at mile 23.5 of the Bay State Marathon (Sorry Meredith!). It brought me through the triumph of a B1 National Championship at the California International marathon (Congratulations to us Jose!) and it brings me to this epic goal of the 2015 Boston Marathon where he will be a part of our team.

Randy and his Boston Guide team of friend/coach Greg Hallerman and Guide team of Christine and Peter Houde from their last training long run together.
Randy and his Boston Guide team of friend/coach Greg Hallerman and Guide team of Christine and Peter Houde from their last training long run together.

#WeRunTogether is the hashtag for the Boston Marathon for many and yet I think it is never more true than for a blind runner. I’m actually part of Team with a Vision who coordinate blind athletes from around the world. They are a tremendous group in many ways such that I hope you’ll learn all of their amazing stories along the way this year. Most of all, though, I’m part of my team of Greg, Christine, and Pete. I always have the gift of sharing the team sport of running. I have someone to lift me up when I struggle mentally or physically. I have someone to whom my support can sometimes fill my own spirit with such strength as I think an individual might never fully realize on a race course. It’s this sharing of experience which is the essence of team and the acronym I well appreciate: T.E.A.M.; Together everyone Achieves More. The preparation for Boston is mostly behind and so much experience awaits. Every day I’m reading a tip I’ve probably heard many times. Every spare moment I’m visualizing my journey through the 9 towns/cities along the route. Yet there are still more days until the experience and so much more beyond that all I can say is I feel ready, excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful, motivated, honored and perhaps most of all grateful. It isn’t every day we get to be part of something epic but at this time I feel very connected to a community and an experience unique in the world. I cannot wait to see how it helps me learn, grow and celebrate for myself and for my most amazing Mighty Quinn. Let’s go Boston!


12 thoughts on “Celebrating the 2015 Boston Marathon!

  1. Friday was a long day with a trip to Concord and some important NHAB announcements. Too brief a chance to encourage fellow Marathoner Nancy Druke who will also be running but glad to know she’s ready as well. There’s an interesting bond I’ve started to note with all past and present runners – as if I am working my way into a very privileged order…which I hope is true but I’ll have to earn it.

    Greg H. picked me up and we headed to the Expo to enjoy and immerse into the experience as well as to get our Bibs. Several fun moments before and after Tracy joined us as I also picked up a shirt and jacket I hope to earn the right to wear proudly in a few days.

    Team with a Vision had a Pizza Dinner thanks to the Delta Gamma ladies who have been such excellent supporters to the various ways of supporting blind causes. I first met them in Sacramento and the local BU chapter and national representatives were equally wonderful. Plenty of fun conversations and build up as things continue to become closer to reality.

    I heard a video of the course where a runner described the experience as Birthdays, Christmas, Easter and every holiday rolled into one. I laughed at the time and thought: “How big can this feel?” well I’m in the build up and it continues to surprise me as the excitement and antic….pation continue!

  2. Thank you for the kind words Randy. The build up to this special day has been tremendous. Your training has come a long, long way from when you first started over a year ago. It has been my pleasure to watch you grow. It has been an exciting week and I enjoyed traveling down to Boston with my young girls, Randy and Autumn. This is going to be my 10th consecutive Boston and I expect it to be memorable. What I didn’t expect, is just how excited and proud I was to get my “BLIND GUIDE” bib. I am tickled pink about getting to wear this and run as part of your team. Now lets go out there and do this !!!

  3. Saturday was so very full with a Lions training session and my providing a presentation before getting a little bit of time to get final details together with Tracy. We had Greg join us for a trip to MABVI for the Team with a Vision pasta dinner. Pete met us there and we caught up with many fellow VI runners and guides. Once again the MABVI team and Delta Gamma set a high bar for volunteerism. Josh was there on the eve of his child’s birth which is now confirmed because I’m writing this after he’s made the birth announcement onight. We evaded letting things get too chaotic and returned home sufficiently early. Rest is still hard to achieve but Sunday was a day of tribute to my past pups (Modi, Ostend and Quinn) as I relaxed and was a little spoiled by Tracy. Packing complete now and Pete is here at the house to ensure we join Greg for the Early Gate City Striders bus to Hopkinton. The nervous anticipation is mostly just fun excitement and thank goodness for all the well wishes to help me pass and distract the time today. One more post from me before I’m off tomorrow and it will be a short one as tomorrow is the big day. I love the feeling of such an epic experience but I love the support and encouragement so much more, thank you all for helping me get through today out on FB and twitter!

  4. Waking at 3 with the excitement too strong for more sleep I listened to a video of the course, walked through a table of route descriptions and mileage one more time though I think I have it almost memorized at this point. I read still more incredibly touching and supportive notes. I can’t possible thank you all here and I’ve been thanking along the way as best possible as well. The running Ladies from Nashua have been particularly kind and many are on the course today as volunteers. I hope you all do know how much I appreciate and benefit from the support.

    What’s ahead now? Eating the normal breakfast before loading into the car with Tracy and Pete to catch the Gate City Striders bus and meet up with Greg there. Wearing warm clothes I can discard to the donations bins close to start time and carrying a trash bag of essential to get me through the morning as well. Tracy will drop Autumn off with Dave and Kathy (thank ou!) Chartier to have a comfortable home and attention during the race day. Crowds and rain aren’t what she and Tracy need together today.

    We have a couple of early morning interviews requested and confirmed down in Hopkinton before we can settle into the Hopkinton Vision Center and wait out the long morning. It looks like rain is fairly likely for most of our race with the hardest later so I guess I need to just run faster right?!?

    Yes I have a time in mind at 3 hours 49 minutes or so but what I’ll do is run the race that is within me. We start at 11:15 (thereabouts anyhow) and this means somewhere shortly after 3 pm is my likely finish. I’m sure my phone which is running the Runkeeper application all along the route will be battery exhausted after the race. That’s ok as I’ll just want to celebrate and relive the experience for as long as possible. before the evening forces us home and away from a day I will never repeat in quite this fashion. THis is my first Boston – my only first Boston and that’s probably good because it has had so much excitement and build up it has changed much of the course of my life routine presently. The reality is that it has probably changed it for a long time to come in some ways at least.

    No more time for rambling though, with this thank you I’m off the computer until likely tomorrow and what happens from now to then will be a part of my life in a grande way forever beyond. My best to all my fellow runners, my friends and family and to the three special guides who ae with me for much of the adventure ahead. Thank you again Pete, Christine and to the person who has put in the most work in getting me here while building a friendship which seems well beyond the too few months we’ve connected; you are the best Greg and I’m very fortunate for the day you responded to my Gate City Striders post!

  5. Best wishes for a great run today Randy. Your training, preparation and perseverance are an inspiration to us all. This day is filled with much anticipation for all of.us who support you and we wish you well.

  6. I’m home and relaxing a little before heading to bed. It was as epic and impactful as I expected, perhaps moreso. The weather was of course rainy and a headwind though not as miserable as it might have been. I do admit that feeling the strongest headwind while running up Heartbrak hill seemed a little unfair! Still my guides were fantastic and those fabulous, well meaning lunatics who line the streets cheering us despite 40 degree temperatures, wind and rain…not enough can ever be said positive for those wonderful people. Many of them were my friends and while I can’t claim to have heard every one of them…it very well may have been close. I tried to give each one a fist pump and shout or even a point but it was also a lot of work. I ran steady throughout and managed 3 hours 50 minutes and 38 seconds, 39 seconds slower than my first stretch goal and well below the four hours of my first goal. Given the conditions that is a fantastic success in my mind.

    My legs are appropriately sore but I’m walking stairs up and down with pride tonight. We’ll see what the morning says. For tonight I’ll tell you that I honored Quinn as best I could this day. I ran the heartbreak hill mile in his honor and when I crested the top I shouted out “I love you Quinn Boy” as loud as I could and I had no doubt I would run the rest of the race strong. Some say the Marathon starts for real at mile 20 and I’m sure all of you and Quinn were part of that strength. Thank you from a very very very happy man tonight.

  7. Huge congratulations! I knew you could do it, but your time is just awesome too. You continue to inspire. I know for sure Quinn was watching you and in some way was with you .
    Congrats to your running guides too!

  8. Oh, great! After reading your amazing tribute to The Mighty Quinn I will now try to drift off to sleep with tears and a runny nose as I picture you at the top of Heartbreak Hill honoring him! CONGRATS my friend!!! ????????????

  9. So woke with only reasonable amounts of muscle soreness this morning and that’s a tribute to the training work. In a light moment I had to don my Boston Marathon jacket to take Autumn outside because I wouldn’t wear it until it was earned and I couldn’t remove my grin as I walked out knowing I’d done just that. Light rain falling as I wait for Autumn to tend her business…no bother…I’d run in worse and today everything is just a little more ok as I am clearly still reveling.

  10. I have never watched my email as much as I did yesterday. It was so great receiving the updates on your progress. What an accomplishment. I am sure the Mighty Quinn is up there saying “that is my Randy, I am so proud. Congratulations!!!!!!!

  11. So proud of what you have done. A marathon is not something I would ever attempt simply because when I did run, it was difficult on my knees to pass the 1 mile mark when I was in the best shape I had ever been. So thank you for your strength, training, and inspiration!!! Congratulations to you, the whole team, and all the marathon runners. I never had an interest in the marathon until now. They had 2 more interested parties here.

  12. 33 More days until Boston 2016 and I received my Bib number today. I’ll write a blog post soon for the experience ahead and with next monday being just 4 weeks until the repeat it’s probably time. Still I had to share a little joy at having read my posts here from last year and those comments from many of you. Thank you!

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