A wide shot of the Andes Mountains with a snow covered Mt. Ausangate in the center. The 2020 team of eleven are hiking in the foreground on a beautiful day.

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Can I visit you on my virtual run across New Hampshire?
11 May
By 2020Visionquest
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GoogleMaps satellite view of the state of New Hampshire, with the route from the US Border Crossing to Randy's house in Nashua highlighted. NH's border is outlined in red. The area surrounding NH has a light gray layered over it.“To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream. Not only plan but also believe.” ~ Anatole Fran

I guess I should first announce that I’m intending to run across New Hampshire, or more accurately perhaps, down New Hampshire. I had hopes for several endurance experiences during the 2020 calendar year and the realities of the Covid-19 situation has necessitated changing many of those plans.

Leading into June, I wanted to bike, hike, and run the length of my home state in sampling of many of the experiences I enjoy so well. This would have led into the Future In Sight Walk for Sight which is, I believe, being reinvented as I write this.

Instead, I’ve altered the plan to run the entirety of the state by use of the mapping ability on my programmable elevation treadmill. Scenes will unfurl on the video screen in front of my sightless eyes but the hills will raise and lower the track as I start my journey on the Canadian border. I’ll run the entire 210 miles from Pittsburgh through my hometown of Colebrook and on to my present home and birthplace of Nashua. Starting on my wife’s birthday, May 9, and intending to run 7-15 miles each successive day, I will stop at key points along the route.

Here is where I would welcome your involvement. It’s a big state and my run is already underway. I have many meaningful moments along this route and will share some of these in my regular posting of updates. If my path takes me near to you or near enough to a place you are willing to meet me, I’d like to use this experience as a chance to reconnect or strengthen my friendships along the way. I’d love to arrange a call, an email, or whatever means allows us to connect the day of my reaching a particular area, perhaps your home or business, perhaps a favorite mountain or a restaurant we should ensure receives a visit when times are a little different than now.

Treadmill with image on the viewscreen of an autumn road along a highwayIt might make sense to arrange our connection the day before or to plan for it by having you reach out to me on social media, this blog, my email or whatever means inspires you. Every connection is a little more inspiration for me. It’s some points of reflection for the many miles I’ll be undertaking, and it’s yet another means for me to connect and be active in meaningful ways during this time which requires me to be particularly vigilant for my health.

I’m going to run these miles and share the experience in ways I hope will add meaning and connection. Whether you follow the progress in some fashion or participate is up to you. It is the way of so many things during this time, the choices we make and how we respond are largely up to us. Even when there are restrictions in place, the response to those is ours to choose. Much as I learned in my journey into blindness, it is far more valuable and rewarding for me to choose the things which have me actively doing all the things I wish albeit in different ways than I may have originally intended. I intend for a little support from some of you to help me make it through this journey and I’ll be checking each day to see who might choose to join me along the way.

Be well,
Randy Pierce

20 responses to “Can I visit you on my virtual run across New Hampshire?”

  1. Randy says:

    I began my journey on Saturday May 9, Tracy’s Birthday. I started on the Canadian border by Chartiersville and for the first 30 minutes was pushing the pace a little as my running club, the Gate City Striders were holding a running event in which I was participating virtually. Then I eased back and let the mostly downhill miles flow on a road some call Moose Alley. I hadn’t travelled this stretch often and it was usually with my Dad. To that end, he was my focus on this first 10 mile run to the First Connecticut Lake. He spent many happy days on his fishing boat on the Connecticut Lakes and I was fortunate to spend a few with him. He’s been gone 8 years and I thought about that as I finished my 8th mile. I’m like that in that numbers and events connecting me to the moment are important for my inspiration and motivation. I had a view of the lake in my mind as I came to an end and just as it was fall in images on the screen in front of me (Thanks Tracy for lending me your Eyes), it was fall in my mind as well. In reality it was snowy and sub-freezing on those roads so this virtual run has some very big advantages!

    On May 10, I picked up where I left off and ran dowin into the center of Pittsburg past my Aunt Connie’s home and to the junction with route 145 where I stopped after 13.7 of stedy rolling hills with again a net downhill. This part of the area I had travelled many more times with many different people. We first came to Pittsburg to visit my dad’s brother Bob and Aunt Connie at the Powerder Horn Lodge on Back Lake ROad. They had moved here in the earlier part of 1970 as best I recollect and while I was young these were great adventure trips for me. When we moved to Colebrook in 1976, we actually stayed in Pittsburg for the first few weeks and my Aunt, as school nurse, drove us to Colebrook via the hilly, curvy and dramatic route 95 which I’ll run on Tuesday May 1 as the third leg of this virtual run. I called my Aunt yesterday to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and to reminisce about some of those times. It was a lovely conversation and I was glad for the chance to express my gratitude to her.

    Now Monday this blog was released and I’m taking a rest day from the treadmill as I’ve accumulated 54 miles in the last week and they need a little rest time. It may allow me a little time to start scheduling a few connections along the route as well. Tuesday’s run to Colebrook has many opportunities for me and will most assuredly include a call to at least one dear friend. Until then, if you are along the route, I’m mapping out the daily distances and getting a plan in place. Whether you live near or along the route or simply have a cherished place there, perhaps we can use this as an opportunity to help guide my inspiration a little further along.

    • Trevor Ward says:

      I’m looking forward to following along with you on this trek, make sure you pace yourself carefully to avoid any injury setbacks, glad you will be taking a day off when you need it.

  2. JS says:

    Awesome Randy!!!

  3. David Salvas says:

    I will enjoy following you as you run down the state.

  4. David Salvas says:

    Looking forward to following you!

  5. Randy says:

    Stage 3 this afternoon was another Half marathon as I left Pittsburg to run the hilly and windy route 145 into Colebrook. The first 3 miles felt like an endless climb on the treadmill and often fairly steep. It caps at a 15% grade but even though I’d eased back the speed today in preparation, I was working. I remember as a youth our family having a rear tire blowout on this road and being incredibly thankful for my Dad’s skillful driving. It’s a beautiful road but you’ll feel like a roller coaster ride at most speeds. As the hills eased off I recalled the wetlands and spiky trees which preceed the beautiful Beaver Brook Falls Waterfall. Me and a few RASCal friends as we called our “Recreation and SPorts Club” minded friends would often bike out here to have a summer lunch and climb around the falls. Coming into town I know Colebrook Academy was on my left where I spent 3 of my 4 high school years. As route 145 ended on route 3 I stopped my run. Just a little short of the Creative Native store where my dear friend Gail Nugent manages things normally. I had a lovely talk with her yesterday and while I do not do so often enough, she kept me apprised of friends, family and town details. Colebrook is celebrating it’s 250th anniversary and while the virus impacts the celebration, the town has 250 years of positive influence, albiet slightly less than that on me personally. Tomorrow I’ll start up from Colebrook again and run down route 3 towards the place I first lived when I moved into the North Country. I haven’t yet decided if it’s a 7 mile trip roughly to the little cluster of homes where I moved in 1976 or if I’ll jump into another half marathon and make the trek all the way to North Stratford.

  6. -bubba (DIck Hubbard) says:

    Fun so far!

  7. Randy says:

    I rose early to start the virtual run and head the length of main street in Colebrook. Passing the Creative Native and reflecting on Fourth of July parades I had marched this route while drumming for the band. Further along I thought of my elementary years and how many of us marched in formation every lunch in order to get our hot lunch from the high school since we did not at that time have a cafeteria in the elementary and jr high school. All weather conditions and temperatures we made that trek! All too soon I was striding out of town with the ball fields distantly to my right and the cemetary I mowed as a boy just ahead on my left. Six miles in or so was the cluster of homes where I first lived after moving from Nashua. It is here that my friendship with my brother Rick began to become something more meaningful to me. The Connecticut River is to my right but mostly out of sight – yes, even for those of you who can see. The road parallels it though there is a railroad track between us. One summer my dad pounded spikes for the railroad to lay new tracks through there. It’s hard for me to think of my running as hard work when I reflect on what he did to put food on our table. Just a little further used to be Aaron’s Big A gas station, store and auction house. Our bus to Colebrook drove this route every school day as we picked up students all the way down to Meridan hill where we turned around and headed back towards Colebrook. I wouldn’t be turning around though, I ran on down into North Stratford. The small town with the sharp bend at the bottom of their hill. THeir high school has been closed for many years now as populations in rural NH have decreased but I remember well many competitions here through the years. I’ll stop here having put another half marathon into my legs at a 7:30 minute/mile pace thoughout. Tomorrow I’ll have 12 miles into Groveton and if the legs feel good I’ll do some Tempo work as it’s a little more flat but for today, I am sad to leave Colebrook much as I was in 1983 just before my Senior Year of high school.

  8. 2020Visionquest says:

    Thursday’s planned run became a day off as I had a little migraine challenge but I stormed back on Friday with the half marathon run from North Stratford into Groveton. These rolling hills only provided 260 feet of elevation gain but on my virtual run it was 78 degrees and warm so I kept the cruising a little slower than my prior runs at an even 8:00 minute/mile pace. Groveton is the town my Dad last lived independently with his partner Terri. He was happy there until her passing from cancer and the final times there were definitely sad on many levels. I knew those thoughts might trouble me so I armed myself for this run with a new audio book just released yesterday. “Forward, Upward, Onward” by Matt Landry is a worthy read as he chronicles the motivations and lessons for his journey through the 48 4K peaks in NH. I had read the e-book previously and enjoyed the read and this audio book opportunity provided me an even better experience. I wanted to continue running but I held that off for tomorrow when I run past the Lancaster Fair grounds and into the city where I first saw Star Wars. Groveton is where I first ever dunked a basketball with some help from the rubber cout in their high school (at least at that time). It is where the Paper Mlls once provided an olfactory reminder of where you are. It is one of the routes to take when heading to hike Mt. Cabot. It is where I stopped and as I did where I’m reminded that my Dad’s independence also came to a stop as it does for all of us eventually. I hope the heavy thoughts will lighten by morning so my legs are ready for the speedier push I will ask of them as I run the slightly shorteter distance into Lancaster. – I hope those of you finding these gems may find some worth, I know I will refer to them for my own use later when this run is done.

  9. 2020Visionquest says:

    Leaving Groveton on this beautiful Saturday lunch time I was thinking that Mt. Cabot, the northern-most peak of the 48 was not very far away. Just slightly north and East of me if I have my bearings correct. I was turning away from Berlin though. Crossing the ironworks bridge in my memory and thinking of the Lancaster fairgrounds just beyond Northumberland. It was a shorter day with only 10 miles planned but I was going to pick up the pace since this virtual run allows me the ease of just one run each day on my journey and all the comforts of home around it. I think of my friend Coach David Salvas who did this for real a few years back and put in much higher mileage each day. I listened to him cross the finish line of his 100th Marathon on the Gate City Marathon a few years ago and that race would have been this weekend if not for Covid-19. We just do things differently for now though. My differently was speed work and that meant a little less nostalgia as every mile I gave a 60 second burst at 9.9 mph followed by a .1 mph increase from my prior mile speed. So 8 mph to start and 8.8 mph for my next to last mile. I then eased back into a cool down as I rolled into Lancaster town, closest movie theater to me when I was growing up…well unless you count the Norton VT Drive-in theater. So for those of you tracking the miles in my sixth leg of this journey, that was a 36 mile drive to see a movie and this was before the era of VHS, never mind DVD! I said 36 mile drive, nevermind run! The miles are piling up and tomorrow I’ll run up over the pliny range which is known as Weeks or Prospect by many and for those in the hiking the 48 community Mt. Waumbeck is on the other end of this range. There I’ll have a choice to make for whether to go through Littleton or stay on route 3 through Twin Mountain. I’m leaning solidly towards the latter as it keeps me close to the mountains I love so well. For today I’m celebrating being well over 800 miles of running this year and having legs which are tired but good. I’ll slow down tomorrow to handle the heavy climbing!

  10. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 7 In the Virtual run across Nh took me from Lancaster to Whitefield. Just over 9 miles but 760 feet of elevation, mostly in the first 3 miles! This was intended as a recovery run since I’ve been running hard but those first three miles had me wondering. This was the climb up “Prospect Mountain” or the Weeks range or as I know it, the far side of the Pliny range. It has a wonderful scenic overlook at the top and there is a side road to the east to get to the Weeks Park and the tower which highlights so much of the mountain ranges visible from there. I have fond childhood memories of our visit there. I also remember when the hill was a death toll for my friend Brian “Coach” Poor’s car when we had otherwise had a marvelous trip to my northcountry home. What the hill did to his car it wanted to do to my legs but the truth is at the slowed pace it wasn’t too bad. I also started early enough the temperatures were cool. This is how I try to approach my hiking and on the far side of that range is Mt. Waumbeck which I’ve hiked only a couple of times. My favorite of those is probably the time we hiked the ridgeline from STarking following fresh moose tracks in the newly falling snow. It arrived at the summit just moments ahead of us and that was part of our inspiration in hiking strong to the summit. Turning around for the out and back hike we were surprised to find that we had been similarly stalked by a bobcat!
    All these thoughts helped my time pass and I had crested the hill and was now descending my way into Whitefield. I finished listening to Matt Landry’s book “Forward, Upward, Onward” and still find it a great read with so many valuable insights I will read it again. The audible reader did a great job in keeping the right feel for Matt’s insights and nature. It was a long downhill run and I wanted to speed up the pace but this was a recovery run so I behaved. I thought of the Mt. View Hotel where I had given several keynote presentations through the years, including my first significant annual meeting for a company that appreciated my message enough to invite me back to their clients. In fact they did much to start me on the corporate presentation journey and I’ve come a long way since those early days. Of course this was also the basecamp for a series of presentations to schools throughout Coos county many years back with Sarah Toney as my support. I still remember our breakfast overlooking the Presidential range. My daydreams were quickly over as I descended the final strides into Whitefield center.I’m glad my treadmill only does a 3% downhill because I know this steep hill would otherwise have made my quads pay. Still, tomorrow I’ll have a long run as I turn through Twin Mountain and feel like I’m leaving the north country behind.

  11. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 8 of this virtual run feels momentous to me as it was 13.7 miles starting in Whitefield and ending at 5 corners in Bethlehem. Why momentous? I’ve now left Coos county behind and similarly begun to run down closer to the midpoint of the state as the Connecticut River has swung sharply west to widen the state. After yesterday’s early and steep hill work I knew I was in a valley and would have a climb to start things off. Sure enough the first few miles were uphill but not as steep by any means. The overall run was a gradual uphill for the most part with 789 feet of elevation spread throughout the longer distance. I know how many epic hikes are off to my east, the Presidential range via several options including the Highland center which had been the launching point for so many of our hikes. I’m on the north side of the Pemi wildnerness where I have so many hiking memories. I’ve actually started to skirt west around it just as I’m coming to a stop for this day’s end. In these 8 runs I have amassed 95.9 miles of running which means I’m averaging just under 12 miles per run. My original plan was to run at least 7 miles each time and I guess I’m doing that. When the distances between key points so often make a half marathon, I can’t help myself. I find myself wanting to run longer and longer but that doesn’t help my ultimate training as I would risk wearing out my legs. You see, today is the alleged start of my Boston Marathon training plan. We are 16 weeks out from the scheduled September 14 marathon date which I not only do not expect to happen but I highly doubt I could run it should they find a means to do it. I’m too high risk for the worst results of Covid-19 to be in that environment. Still, I’m going to train as if it will happen and evaluate my approach along the way. I rarely believe in ruling things out before that’s required. Do not make unnecessary decisions prematurely is my thought. This means being ready in the event something surprises me and this also provides me the flexibility to choose another interesting approach with the training. I’m presently running faster and with a higher volume at strength than I’ve managed previously. This is due to the in-home treadmill advantage and my use of it extensively for training and to manage the challenges of the present time. What might this allow for a Marathon result? I don’t know yet but I’m eager to find out and the best way is to build up the distance over the next 16 weeks. My base has been strengthenened by this and other goals and I’ll find the right ways to put this to use.

  12. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 9: I started up today’s run with my shortest distance of the trip. This was a compromise with my wife Tracy and my STRYD footpods which are suggesting I am running a little much. My legs feel good though and so I want to keep going. Today took me along the north edge of Garfield and down into the Franconia Notch. I remember the notch vividly with the stark cliffs of Lafayette and Cannon on each side. When I still had my sight, the Old Man of the Mountain still stood guard looking south over NH. Many times we drove through this notch and I remember an ominous feeling as the enormity of those cliffs made me feel so small and insignificant. I’ve hiked those ridge lines, biked the pathways with Brent Bell and now for the first time run virtually through them. My thoughts went back to seven years prior when I started the last season of my all-season summit of the 48 with Cannon in the morning and Lafayette in the afternoon. We stayed overnight at Greenleaf hut to return down Falling Waters the next day. It was a great weekend but a difficult hike as we joked falling waters trail should be renamed to falling blind guy. The truth is, I didn’t really fall because John Swenson and the Might Quinn were too good at their duties. I stopped my run here in the notch, by profile lake. I think of this as the gateway to northern NH. Conversely that means it must be the gateway to the rest of NH as well. Tomorrow I’ll run 9.3 miles to the Mountain Wanderer’s Map and book store. Steve Smith isn’t opening right now but managing his store online. Like my run, it’s a virtual operation. He did drop me a few words today and I have one of his raised relief maps which I’ll use to shoot a video and post it on my facebook and youtube accounts for those interested.

  13. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 10: Profile Lake in Franconia Notch to the Mountain Wanderer Map and Bookstore in Lincoln. This was a 9 mile run in which I used the generally flat or downhill terrain to let me run comfortably. My treadmill caps downhill speed at 7:30 minutes/mile so that’s what I did until the flats and then I picked it up for the last miles. I was listening to podcasts and reflecting on a productive day. I’d started with a brief call with Future In Sight as we are working on concepts for how I might be a positive part of their revised virtual Walk for Sight now planned for the first 20 days of August. I then found Luke DePron had released his latest podcast “Vision Over Sight” in which he and I have a wonderful talk about my life and life approach. His podcast “Live Great Lifestyle” is available on all the usual means and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that “Alexa Play Live Great Lifestyle” begins playing our episode. We talked about hiking and here I was running in those mountains. Lincoln in fact is the plocation from which more of our hikes were launched than any other single location. Whether stopping for gas, last minute supplies, coffee or facilities; it was part of many of our hiking excursions. All three of my guide dogs have spent time in Lincoln although Ostend was never atop a 4K peak, he did take me through Lincoln woods and to the Franconia Falls. My final reflection on this day was of the commencement I had provided earlier in the day for the Capital Area Student Leadership program. It was virtual, like this run, and as such I was requested to take a different approach, more akin to a keynote. A shorter theme of Leadership, Self-improvement and managing adversity was kept to near 20 minutes before taking questions from the students. Unable to hear my zoom meeting muted audience, I had little feedback during the presentation but the questions were my reward. They were meaningful and on point which ensured I had reached them and better still they were now reaching me. It is the interaction which drives me most. THat’s true also for my running. Normally I do not run solo. I have a guide with me. This virtual run, like all my treadmill runs, is managed without the benefit of those guides who not only make it possible for me to run outside but also enrich the experience. I miss my guides during these cofid-19 times because they are not just guides, they are friends and they are meaningful connections along the journey. The mountains gave me my first experience with human guides at this level and the mountain hiking led to my running as well. This has brought so many quality people into my world. Tomorrow I’ll leave Lincoln and head likely for Thornton, the town which holds Mt. Welch often known for the Welch-Dickie loop. It is on Welch where I asked Tracy to be my wife and so that’s a good place to visit on my virtual run…

  14. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 11: Lincoln to Thornton. I chose this destination because it was approximately 12 miles which is a good distance to keep up my average and start the target finish approach. It is also the location (scene of the crime?) where I asked Tracy to marry me at the summit of Mt. Welch on May 1 2010. Ten years seems like such a long time ago and I’m astonished at how much my world has changed in that time. We went on to be wed on 10/10/10 which is not only a perfect 10 date appropriate for Tracy but a nice statement of half the support for 2020 which is the present year and of course the charity we founded and run together. As you might surmise my thoughts were on the dozens of hikes I’ve done for that mountain because it is such a favorite of mine. I love the relative ease with which the first ledges can be reached to provide such a wonderful scenic overlook. That’s my teaser for first time hikers I want to entice into the hobby. From the ledge I can point to them the summit which is only half a mile further but which will provide an array of different and moderately challenging hiking experiences. On one such challenge Quinn’s leap and scramble earned him the trailname “Adventure Dawg”. I’ve been up in sweltering heat, freezing cold, calm and windy weather as well as many times in near perfect conditions where a light mountain breeze keeps a gentle cooling. The views from the 360 degree summit panorama are astounding (or so I’m told…but with lots of convincing emotion in people’s voices mind you). It’s a marvelous introduction to the beauty of NH mountains and hiking. I am, however, running. So I’ll celebrate Welch-Dickie for the momentous change they brought to my life and the many many moments of hard earned joy. I’ll set my treadmill sights on another double digit mile run into Plymouth tomorrow. My brother Rick attended college there and I have some stories from those days but we’ll see what contacts may emerge to bring about tomorrow’s post material.

    One last nod to my fine friend Drew who resides part time not far from Mt. Welch. We spoke recently and he has become a runner over the last few years with major leaps in speed and distance this year. We generally have a host of topics to keep us entertained on our topic but I wanted to give a shout out to well earned running success on his part!

  15. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 12: Leaving Welch-Dickie and plunging into Plymouth. I extended this a little longer into a Half Marathon because I’m setting the stage for the rest of my trip as promised. I’m also launching this Virtual Run beyond Virtual for a brief bit over this Memorial Day weekend. Running is certainly a lot of work, virtual or otherwise. Usually I navigate the state in a car and so I’m setting my sights to run to the place where I last purchased a car…yes, before this blindness I bought a car. THe folks at Grappone Automotive were great to me then and hey’ve been excellent friends and partners to our 2020 Vision Quest world as well. If I run this right I can arrive to their location on Monday, Memorial Day to take advantage of the sales their having all weekend. Someohow I doubt they’ll let me buy a car, mostly out of concern for the rest of you on the road. Still I’m going to run there and then I’m also going to arrive there in real life as well. Why? I have with their help some free copies of my book (See You At the Summit) and my DVD (Four More Feet) to give to you if you join us at the Toyota portion of their extensive dealership at 1:00 on Monday. I’ll share that announcement in several places and ways but those of you reading here get first look.

    Plymouth, home of the University Cluster system and the first college town I came to appreciate as my brother Rick (Happy Birthday tomorrow!) went there. Those who have read my book know my brother has an important role in my life and I still remember the snowy sculptures of epic proportions from their winter carnival. A life size Smaug the dragon and a life size Noah’s Ark – with many of the animals as well. All those animals two by two, the way I normally run It’s part of that teamwork theme. So to that end, I’m going to ask for a little teamwork as this is going to get hard with some long miles ahead and many consecutive days of running. If I can reach my friends at Grappone Automotive on Monday then I can be home (virtually) on Thursday taking 20 total days and 18 runs to finish this trek. I’ll have averaged double digit miles for those 18 runs of course and there’s a particularly appropriate feel to the number 20 for me. So if you are able to join us Monday live, with appropriate physical distancing of course, or if you can be a phone call or email any of the days along the way, I welcome the encouragement. It’s time to being this run across NH into finish:
    Friday May 22 – Into Plymouth
    Saturday May 23 – Into New Hampton
    Sunday May 24 Into Tilton
    Monday May 25 Into Grappone Automotive
    Tuesday-Thursday breakpoints are undecided but it will be three runs for the final 36 miles!

  16. 2020Visionquest says:

    Stage 13: 14.6 miles from Plymouth to New Hampton. Mostly gentle rolling hills and I was up early to be ready for the three day push to Grappone Automotive which has my mileage a little higher to reach a target location on time. This did not mean I wanted to look past this journey though. Passing through Ashland I thought of my friends Will and Sue who helped arrange for my initial visit to the schools here some years back. Will is now a student at Plymouth University and so I’ve made an outreach to catch up with him. I pushed on through Ashland to New Hampton where I’ve presented at the private school previously thanks to my friend Phil and his daughter Eva who would be graduating, today if it were not for the changes. So I’ll congratulate the very real graduates likely managing things virtually. I previously shared my notes for the commencement address I might have given at UNH Manchester had that honor not been lost to this virus as well. Much like my blindness doesn’t define me, Covid-19 does not have to define these students. We are defined more by our choices in responding to the adversity in life. Finding the ways to use it as a catalyst to grow and learn is ideal even as we recognize the significant influence it may have. That’s what brought me to this virtual run after all. I exchanged a few rounds of text messages with my friend Phil and he offered me to stay at his place up there (virtually of course) while I’m running. With his kind heart I know it’s only a virtual offer because I’m not actually there. Thanks Phil for the generosity and kindness with which you treat our world and certainly me as part of that world. I’ll be up early tomorrow morning to run down to the Tilton Diner for some breakfast. It will be a hard morning though as tomorrow is a sad anniversary for me. It will mark 15 years since the death of my first guide dog, Ostend. I’ll run for him tomorrow as I have a half marathon of distance to cover before my virtual Tilton diner breakfast and very real bigger breakfast here. Fueling has generally been easy for these runs as I haven’t pushed the pace enough to have problems digesting whie running and the time has been less than two hours of running typically which means I haven’t had to take food while running as my glycogen reserves are good for the time and distance. That said, today was a difficult run as one might expect with so many days of running they aren’t all going to be smooth. I just didn’t feel right before or after and so I was glad for an easier run. I’d like to feel well enough to push a little harder tomorrow in Ostend’s honor.

  17. 2020Visionquest says:

    Double dipping with Stage 14 and 15 updates in one comment. Yesterday was run in honor of Ostend I was thinking of my boy and usually I have the scent of lilacs in the air to remind me of the words I wrote at the time of losing him 15 years ago: “When Lilac’s Bloom.” Our home didn’t give us many lilacs or the strong aromatic scent this year and the time has just passed. I did have the full gift that the bleeding heart I planted in his honor was in full bloom. There is so much appropriate, albeit painful, symbolism in that since a cancerous tumor had literally split his heart and my own in the figurative sense. He was my boy of summer and yet here I am closing in on 54 yeas and running longer and stronger than at any point in my life. It suggests something very positive for me. I had a wonderful conversation with several people yesterday in relation to this stretch of miles and to my boy Ostend, which is why stage 14 and the 14+ miles flew by. Thank you to Doreen, Ostend’s puppy raiser, for the gift of Ostend, as well as our lovely conversation yesterday. Thank you also to my firend Nate for his call and much well wishes and honor to his own long lived Golden Retriever “Dude” who is with him but struggling with age as we all must someday face. The somber thoughts and a full day kept me from making this update though I logged my miles even as my STRYD application is strongly suggesting I’m training more than acceptable levels and should take a rest day. Maybe after the Grappone stop on stage 15.

    STage 15! Penultimate is the next to last of something. So Stage 14 was my penultimate for the goal I’d set to reach Grappone by Memorial Day. It is uallly thought to be harder than the the final round if for no other reason than the mental aspects. I was determined this morning and although the mileage was 14.8 officially, I put the pace back up to 7:30 after the first mile and pushed my way through to the end. It wasn’t an easy run as my legs are tired. No surprise they have 190 miles in the last 15 runs or 17 days depending on how you’d prefer to count it. I’m averaging 12.67 miles per run and at a pace that is near 7:40 minutes per mile. I could not have run that pace for 5 miles one year ago. Now I can run it for a half marathon even with multiple days of consecutive half marathons. It’s a credit to training. Like many things, if we do the work we will usually earn the results.

    I’ve been fortunate to do a little work at building a partnership and friendship with many people and groups through the years. Grappone Automotive has been one of those and when I originally planned my cross NH bicycling, mountain hiking and running event to honor FUture In Sight and their AWalk for Sight, Leadership Grappone’s team wanted to be involved. Unfortunately Covid-19 changed all those possibilities. When I created a virtual run and simply wanted to reach out to people and places, they suggested we celebrate the summit I’ll have achieved nearing 200 miles of the journey (190) and having a well known stretch left to finish my big goal. Why not take a moment to be a little live and share our journey with others in some fashion such as the giving of our book, “See You At The Summit” and our movie/DVD “Four More Feet” to some of the folks who choose to join us. That’s what we are going to do while observing best safe health practices for all of us at the same time. Autumn, Tracy and I will be there soon and hope to see some of you. I’ll be letting Ttracy drive off the lot and oh the benefits of a good car versus all these running miles. As this is the last place I drove a new car of my own off the lot (thank you Ken Berman!), I know first hand there’s plenty of great options for those inclined…or I guess you could join me in running all over the state…

  18. Randy says:

    Stage 16, 17 & 18
    Hello Randy? Did you miss an update or two or four here? Guilty as charged unfortunately. After the tremendously eenjoyable live visit to Grappone, I took Tuesday off from running because my wife and running watch were strongly advising me to the wisdom of this. It was nice to have a full recovery day with a little walking and some Yoga, we enjoy the downward dog app). Wednesday it was time to get back to it as Stage 16 had me run through Bow and Hooksett to the north end of Manchester. My legs were fired up and ready to run even as my mileage was just under double digits. The north end of Manchester is where I lived with Rick and Monique when I first went blind way back in 1989 and I stayed there for about six months as I sorted out how to manage things with a little more independence. The north end is also where the Derryfield hosted the first handful of our Peak Potential Dinner and Auction events until we outgrew the venue. I think about how fortunate we are to have ended those events with our tenth and final version of it last year. It would have needed to be cancelled this year otherwise and the process would have been very difficult on our team. Fortunate timing during unfortunate times.

    Stage 17 was later on Thursday as my issues sleeping had been running aamok and I finally managed to get a little more rest on Thursday but at the price of a groggy start to my day. Blind running on a treadmill while groggy is not something I choose. So as the heat and humidity rose, I waited as late as possible before running the near ten miles I had to take me to the airport bypass on route 3 at the Bedford and North Merrimack line. It was a hot and late run and this time near to the school, Memorial School in Bedfore, where I have made more visits than any other school. I think of my good fortune in having made those connections thanks to Bill Leblanc, Pat Graham and a now retired teacher, Cheryl Mousseau. I needed some of the good thoughts because just at this time there is enough unpleasantness in our world to also occupy my mind and distract my steps. One of the reasons behind running is the time to dig into our mind and think a little more introspectively about some of the things which deserve more thought. It’s so easy to be distracted in this world by our phones, our TV or the hectic pace of our lives. Running is time when I’m going to be repeating a left-right-repeat mantra for a long time and that leaves my mind some time to dig in on important topics. I had much to think about in how our country is responding to the adversity of Covid-19 as well as some very ugly situations in Minneapolois. There’s certainly far more than just those two points to ponder and this isn’t the forum for discussion as much as to say how much running was a help for me in gaining some perspective on how I felt about it, what I thought about it and what I might choose for my responces to some of the harder parts of all of it.

    Stage 18 – the actual penultimate run. I ran through all of Merrimack and into Nashua to line up over 11 miles later on the top of Library Hill in Nashua. The Nashua Library has a big announcement they will be sharing on June 1 regarding a kindness they are showing me but I want to take my journey back to the fact I was living in Merrimack in 1988 when my blindness journey began. I was at the Commons, Blackstone Court, when the fateful fencing class revealed my swollen optic nerve and the start of my long journey into total blindness. It wasn’t a jouirney into darkness as I think I’m blessed with tremendous illumination in my life. Those early days were dark even as legal blindness allowed plenty of sight. It’s often so easy to focus on what you don’t have rather than what you do have. I ran past that location and past Greeley Park which deserves a little footnote here as well (pun mostly not intended). There are giant weeping willows in this park which I remember from boyhood school field trips. There were family picnics here before we ever moved north to Colebrook and there were last family gatherings with both Mom and Dad in their final years as the place held so much nostalgia and positive moments for them. One of my favorite memories and photos of my Mom was taken here at this park on a celebration with her in her late 80s. I share this because as readers of my book might know, a little of my running began at UNH for their homecoming race and it was my mother’s interest that helped keep me going to that race each year. She had a collection of those early race shirts which she wore proudly which is a little ironic because it is me that is so very proud of my mother for all the love and care she gave to me. That was the thought I had on my final strides of this very hot and humid run this morning. It was a run which was harder for me because of the late night last night and earlier morning return preventing me from being fully rested. It was hard as my running shoes held the humidity and were a little slippery, actually making the grip on the treadmill suspect at times. Although I use three different pairs of running shoes, it’s been very hot and humid for these last three days. Fortunately tomorrow I have my shortest run of this entire trip as I bring my virtual run to an end. One more run and I’m done.

  19. Randy says:

    I am finished! Stage 19 as it turns out was a 5k finish. I turned up the speed since I’d taken one extra day off and my legs were charged up with such a short distance to go. My treadmill only allows me 8 mph if there’s any downhill so as I ran initially downhill to cross the Nashua River and then began to ascend slightly up main street, I put up the speed. After my first mile I put it up to just over 10 mph anytime it allowed and if it slowed me for a minor downhill I put it back up as quick as possible. it was a generally quick and fun run with cool and comfortable temperatures. I felt like I was running part of the Gate City Marathon at times albeit in the wrong direction. I didn’t have time to contemplate much or to reach out so I let this run be about the simple joy I find in running. It was over too quickly and in reflection so is my virtual run across NH. I’ll make a full post to reflect on the entire trip later. For just this one section I want to share how good it felt to let my legs turn over in a steady rhythmic push. I let my heartrate elevate a little with some speed and that felt good as the wind gently blew through our back sea porch as we call the room with the treadmill. It is a gift to be able to run, I still recall all too well the days not so long ago when I could not run, could not waslk and could not even stand. It is so easy to not appreciate the many gifts we have in this world, to focus on the things we cannot do instead of what we can do. There was a time I could not do those things and now I can run and realize so well what a gift it is. Covid-19 has created a time when I can not do all the things I might wish and it is easy to focus on those things. The reason for the virtual run was to instead focus on what I could do and how fortunate I am for this and how much I can enjoy it. Mission accomplished. Over 123 miles of running and I have yet to tally the elevation or average pace which was somewhere around 7:50 minutes per mile overall. Better still was the journey through past memories and present connections. It’s how I hoped to use this journey and many others ahead. As many steps as this took, this is just one step in a much longer and equally beautiful journey of making my life as best I can possible make it. I’m always striving for that Peak Potential, more figurative now than usual but still quire full of rewards along the path.

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