“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.”
– John L Parker Jr.
I’ve raced in many of the biggest events in the world, and I’ve completed many smaller, local races. Each one gives me butterflies in my stomach beforehand, a rush of adrenaline at the start, and a sense of accomplishment at the finish. In each race I fight a battle, whether it’s against myself, my competitors, or the elements. Consistently overcoming these obstacles has shaped my character.
I think that everyone deserves to experience these sensations.
Recently, I decided to team up with United Athletics Williamsburg, a program that pairs assisted athletes with able-bodied athletes. My goal for the race was to help Ryan Wilson, one of my Rawls Byrd Elementary students, complete his first 8k.
I was much more nervous in the first couple of minutes of the race than I expected. Most of my anxiety was due to the fact that I needed more space to maneuver, and if there was an unpredictable move in the field, Ryan’s safety was at stake. I felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility for his well-being. Once the field spread out, I was able to get into a rhythm and we went!
We managed to move up the field one by one until the halfway point, where we reached third place. On the way back home, we continued to gain on second, but could never quite close the gap. Regardless of our overall place, for those 29 minutes, we were free.
If you want to read more about the event or United Athletics Williamsburg’s involvement, check out this WY Daily article on the event: http://wydaily.com/2014/02/11/runners-children-with-special-needs-team-up-for-athletic-experience-w-video/
It was such a fun time, an experience I will never forget. If you are interested in becoming a United Athletics volunteer, please visit http://www.unitedathleticsrva.com/
So the question that could be asked is “What have I been up to since last November?” The question that should be asked is, “What haven’t I been up to?”
The answer: Not much. Life has been extremely busy in 2014, due in large part to parenting a 9 month old whose magnetic personality occupies all of my free time.
Cassidy has been helping with my base training, mostly by keeping me company on my trainer workouts and strength training regimen. She has started taking swim lessons, which if you know me, means that it’s only a matter of time before she can take her old man in the pool.
To that end, I’ve been putting in a huge focused block of swim sessions this year, training at the Fort Eustis Aquatics Center three days a week, and swimming solo another 2-3x a week. January was my biggest swim month ever, volume-wise, but thanks to the new group at FEAC, I feel that I am starting to become a bit more well-rounded as well.
I have started using toys in the water, which would have seemed very strange for me just three months ago. A snorkel? Why would I need to do sets with that strapped over my head? Well for about two weeks I dreaded any snorkel set prescribed. Then I started to get it. And then I kind of looked forward to using it. The technique is improving, and I’m becoming more balanced with my stroke. Fins? Aren’t I just cheating if I put those on my feet? I am by no means a swim expert, but I do know that my kick in the water is deplorable. Due to the work I am completing, that is changing. While banging out monster kick sets may not directly help me in the open water, it certainly won’t hurt my overall fitness and confidence level. Paddles? Well, I did use paddles before, but just not nearly as much. There was a fear that I had that doing too much paddlework would surely put me on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. That may be true, but my ceiling for what “too much” was didn’t come close to what I can handle.
Cycling has been fun in January. With more snow than we’ve had in years, I’ve enjoyed camping out in my man cave, throwing down watt after watt in pursuit of making some gains in my cycling fitness. I’m getting more and more comfortable in zone 4, which probably means it’s about time I tested my threshold level once more. Always such a bittersweet pill to swallow.
And then there is running. After the marathon, I knew that running would be taking a backseat to swimming and cycling, and it has. I run just enough every week to keep my legs used to the pounding, and then I hit the pool or bike. I am very excited to open my season this weekend at the Toano Icy 8k, racing for United Athletics Williamsburg, an organization that pairs athletes and individuals that need physical assistance together to complete races. For more information or to find out how you can get involved, please visit http://www.unitedathleticsrva.com/.
As always, I would be lost without the support of the many fantastic sponsors of the Snapple Triathlon Team; Osmo Nutrition, Finis, Louis Garneau, Sweatvac, and Rudy Project have been helping make each training session successful and as productive as possible. Thank you!