By: Jill Price, Guide Runner & Special Contributor
This weekend I had the honor of being part of the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon, in an entirely different way than I normally would have been and as a result, the most incredible people were brought into my life. This adventure started with a referral from Bernie Tretta with Achilles International to David A Adame of Eyecan Alliance. I spent the entire weekend with the most amazing and hardworking athletes I have ever met. Among these athletes were a few that really touched my heart.
Most of the athletes I met this weekend are visually impaired; however let me tell you, THEY ARE UNSTOPPABLE!! Among the athletes I met, is a 4.0 graduate student, a NASA administrator, a mother of 4 – yes 4, and a former financial analyst who followed her dream to compete in this year’s Rio Paralympics and currently is an elite runner for the USA Paralympic Track Team. A-MAZING!
This weekend we learned about U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and the integral role it plays in the blind/visually impaired community. We visited the Chilled Cryospa and experienced what it feels like in a tube at -240 degrees for 3 minutes (amazing), got a behind- the- scenes tour of NASA, shared a pre-race dinner and finally, we actually ran the streets of Houston.
I had the opportunity to watch and cheer these athletes this weekend in everything from the 5K to the marathon. It was awesome! I had the special privilege along with another runner, to guide a very fast VI Athlete in the Half-Marathon, Amy Kelley. Even though I had to pray to God the entire race for extra legs to keep up with these speed demons, it now has become my absolute favorite race, ever, and I have done my share of races!
One of the guides said something during our introductions that really hit home. He said he had been running and doing triathlons for many years and then met Brandon Adame, a blind athlete and his dad David, with Eyecan Alliance, at the IM Texas Expo. He knew at that very moment that he had found the big reason he started running in the first place. This is exactly how I feel.
I am not good at much, but I can run. It is something I have had a passion for all of my life. I have been running marathons since 1995 and have done every other event under the sun since. Although it has taken me over 20 years to figure this out, I have finally found the big reason I started running so long ago. David A Adame, Bernie Tretta and all of you amazing Blind/VI athletes…you have changed my life forever. Thank you. I cannot wait to be with you all again!!