While I was composing my race race report from the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile, I had a difficult time expressing my thoughts about seeing the disabled athletes competing in yesterday's race. Brandon expressed my thoughts and emotions much more eloquently than I could. With his permsission, I am sharing his entry.
Yesterday was the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 miler in Central Park. The famous, Ari and I had arranged to meet at the registration tent prior to the race and to run the event together. Achilles Track Club, for those who may not know, is an organization who holds as it’s mission statement: “Our mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics, promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem, and lower barriers.”. I am no stranger to achilles and have been there to cheer on many of their athletes before this event and have also been passed by one of their Iraq War veterans in a race!
Now, to say that I was “re-inspired” by this event is not entirely true. I think that, to be “re” anything, one needs to have lost their initial drive. I have not. However, as I stated in my articel last weel entitled, “Time”, I have been struggling with the amount of my life my training must take up, but lacking the time to allow it to do so. This weekend, I found myself renewed. On Saturday, I went on a 5.5 mile run in the morning, then headed out to rehearsal. Following rehearsal, I headed home and went on a 30 mile ride down the West Side Greenway (my first time on that route in a while). Knowing that I had an event the next morning, I looked forward to that soreness that makes you feel alive, like your body is working again.
The next morning, I went to the event in Central Park. First, walking through the parking area in front of Tavern on the Green, the amount of high-tech wheelchair gear was amazing! The amount of high end wheelsets on those chairs could almost surpass the wheelsets on überbikes at a triathlon. As I walked toward the registration tent and looked around, the people there, some with mental disabilities, some missing a one or both legs or arms, I began to think. What if I wasn’t sore that morning because the part of me that should be sore was missing? Would I still be there? What is I couldn’t walk to the start, but had to use my arms? Would I still be there?
These athletes were there because they are just that, athletes. No matter what, at the end of the day, they were not letting some small thing like being a double leg amputee stop them from going out and using what God gave them. The wheelchair start went off before the main pack, and it was incredible to see these athletes, some of whom were forced to go backward in their chairs, due to their condition, just smile the whole time.
As Ari and I got to about mile 4 (holding down about a 7:15/mile pace), the heat and humidity began to kick my ass a bit, I said to Ari, “I’d like to go on the record and say that I am officially no longer having fun.”. Once I got home and had the chance to reflect it made me realize how thankful I was to have been able to toe the line with the athletes from Achilles. So, to each and every one of the member of Achilles Track Club, thank you! I would also like to say a special thank you to the veterans who were there running. You have given of yourself with an unconditional love for our country and I am eternally grateful. As long as I have breath, I will defend and honor the sacrifices you have made for our freedoms.