Sunday, December 7, 2014

California International Marathon

I guided Dan Berlin in the California International Marathon today. The weather in Sacramento was ideal for running: 50s F and cloudy. A few minutes before the race started at 7 a.m., we were clustered with thousands of jittery runners loosening up and jumping around. The imminent sunrise scattered the eastern sky with soft hues of orange and red, balanced on the opposite horizon by a fat, full moon glowing behind a gossamer cover of clouds. The transcendent moment disappeared quickly as the race started, however, and my attention quickly shifted from the stunning morning sky to the throng of runners surrounding us. 

Guiding a blind athlete demands attention to details, like avoiding small divots in the asphalt, raised reflective markers in the pavement that are just high enough to cause a stumble, and the obvious problem of other runners cutting in front. It can be helpful to have more than one guide to look out for obstacles, and today I was joined by Eric Waterman, an accomplished runner who took turns holding Dan's tether. 

Although he only started distance running a few years ago, Dan is already an experienced marathoner and knew how to pace himself to cover the distance. He struggled with foot cramps and lower back tightness in the final 8 miles of the race, but was able to hang tough and "embrace the suck." That quote came from a participant in one of my recent CEO workshops, who liked my idea of embracing the value of discomfort. Dan adopted the saying, and we took solace in the phrase as we suffered from exhaustion near the end of the race. 

It's hard for me to express adequately the respect I have for Dan and his outlook on life. It was an honor to serve as his guide today.

Here are some pics:
4:45 a.m.: Leaving our hotel for the race start. Dan with his 14-year-old daughter Talia, who volunteered to hand out water on the course.

The final stretch of the marathon with Dan Berlin and fellow guide Eric Waterman

With Dan and Eric immediately after finishing

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Guiding Dan Berlin in the California International Marathon

I'm in Sacramento, California to guide my friend Dan Berlin in the California International Marathon on Sunday, December 7. Dan steadily lost his sight over many years due to the disease cone rod dystrophy. But he didn't let blindness stop him from becoming a marathoner and triathlete. I served as his guide two months ago when he became the first blind runner to cross the Grand Canyon and back nonstop. That feat has generated a lot of press, including a story on CBS Evening News (see pics below).

This will be the third time I've guided Dan in a marathon. We also did a 1/2 Ironman together last year. We were tethered together on the 1.2-mile swim, rode a tandem bicycle on the 56-mile bike portion and held a tether between us on the 13.1-mile run. And we'll run the Boston Marathon together on April 20, 2015. He's in remarkable shape and always up for an endurance challenge. There's more to come!

Scott Pelley introduces the story about Dan Berlin

Dan being interviewed by Barry Petersen, one of CBS's most experienced correspondents 

In this photo, I'm helping Dan cross a stream in the Grand Canyon with assistance from fellow guides Alison Qualter-Berna and Pete Kardasis