Blah, BLah, BLOG
Wishing all of my friends and families a joyous and festive Christmas. Reflect on your accomplishments and great moments of 2012. I hope for all the best of 2013. It has been an amazing year for me - running several events, completing my first triathlon, and learning more about myself, and accepting my cane as part of who I am. As the old year comes to an end, the new year awaits with more adventures to seek and do. My hopes for 2013 would be to reach out to VI/blind people and give them the confidence to achieve their goals by sharing my experiences and words of encouragement. My goal for 2013 is to bring in as many VI/blind runners to come to Victoria BC and to participate in the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon (1/2 Marathon and 8K) not only from around Canada but from other countries as well. I plan to make more time for creativity, to paint and perhaps enter my paintings in Chicago once again. These are my goals for 2013 - lets make it another memorable year!
Merry Christmas Everyone !
Team: Canadian Eh? Left to right - Chris Morrison - Guide, Richard Marsolais, George Hajecek - Guide, Chris Zonruiter, Colleen Bird - Guide, Shelley Ann Morris, Robbie Burt and Rose Kamma Sarkany
Back home again after a wonderful event in California. Just over a year ago, I ran the full marathon at the California International Marathon (from Folsom to Sacramento 26.2 miles) with my guide Chris Morrison. After the awards, Rich Cardillo of USABA challenged me to bring two more VI runners from Canada to compete for the 2012 event. Well, with lots of networking, meeting new VI athletes through out the year, a team was born. Our team was called Canadian Eh? Chris Zonruiter from 100 Mile House, BC, Shelley Ann Morris (and guide, Colleen Bird from Ottawa, ON, and myself from little o'l Port Alberni, BC. Not only did we have a relay team, we also have two marathoners, Robbie Burt (Summerside Lions) from Summerside, PEI, and Richard Marsolais (and guide, George Hajecek) from Ottawa ON. With support from the Alberni Valley Lions, and my guide Chris Morrison and under the banner of 'Running for Change', we put together race support packages with running singlets and loads of goodies for all the Canadian VI runners and guides. Friday (Dec.30th) morning, Chris and I were off to do a radio interview with the Sacramento Radio station KFBK. Saturday early evening (Dec.1st) we all met
at a hotel in Folsom for our pre-race dinner sponsored by the VSP Vision Care - Dr. Schermer, USABA and several Lions clubs (Land Park Lions, Folsom Lake Lions, Fort Sutter Lions and Maharlika Lions). It was an incredible night, meeting old friends and new. Chris was honored with a custom made guide bib presented by Richard Hunter. It was a proud moment. He was honored for setting up the 'Running Eyes' page on facebook to help pair VI runners with guides all over the world, giving support and advice. Well deserved!
RACE DAY (Dec.2nd): It was 5:15am when the alarm went off and we were ready before our meeting time at 6:30 am for our bus to the relay transition area. Weather was ungodly...as predicted. Winds were as high as 40mph with torrential downpour. Not ideal weather but we have come all this way to do a race, I am sure most of us was thinking, ugh...i just want to crawl back into bed, but no, can't let the team down. We are tough and we will get through it. As we were driving towards the transition areas, the skies were dark and cloudy, windshield wipers going full board and the trees swaying wildly. This was going to be one heck of a run! Chris, Andy Thielen (Fort Sutter Lion) and I were waiting for Chris Zonruiter to complete the first leg of the relay. I had decided to leave my hearing aids behind not wanting to risk water damage. Good decision! We were wearing garbage bags to keep dry (HA!!! that did not work) and jumping up and down, trying to keep warm. It seems like a long time and we saw Chris Zonruiter approaching and we were excited that Chris Z made it safely through the first leg. Chris M, Andy and I were ready to run. Chris reassured Andy with last minute guiding tips and confidence to run. We were having a good time, despite the bad weather. I was thankful Chris made the first of the two legs in the relay, it meant a lot to me even though I knew, he was hurting and nursing his injury. We ran through large puddles and ankle deep flooded areas - we were SOAKED!!! Funny, we even tried avoiding some puddles but realised that it was a pointless exercise. As we approached the 2nd transition area, Chris M stayed and Andy carried on to guide me to the 3rd leg. He said many things to me during the run, I nodded my head several times in response and every now and then I would respond to some of the things he said. We picked up the pace and I wanted to finish the 15 mile run sooner rather than later. The faster I ran, the warmer I got. We passed so many people along the way, everyone running that day was inspiring, tackling the high winds and rain. Finally Andy and I saw our destination stop and met our last relay runner, Shelly Ann. Not kidding our very last step, and putting on the timing chip around her ankle, the sun came out. Shelley Ann and her sister / guide Colleen disappeared into the crowd with the sun on their backs. What a perfect ending to the race. It was then I turned to Andy and said "Andy, all this time you were talking to me, I could not read your lips most times because of the chin strap blocking my view to read your lips!" We laughed - Andy did a great job guiding a VI runner for the first time.
POST RACE: Celebration time! We all met at our friends Andy Rosten and Mary Digan's home for a post race dinner party. All of the Canadian VI runners, some guides and Lions involved with the CIM weekend were there to celebrate our run. I had a surprise for our relay team - 1st place VI relay team! I was a great feeling to hand out the awards to each of the relay runners. Everyone had a great time before, during and after the California International Marathon. Way to go Canada! As it turned out, nearly 1/3 of the race participants did not show up for the run due to bad weather but every single VI/Blind runners and guides participated. Hows that for inspiration!
Thank you Chris Zonruiter, Shelley Ann Morris, Richard Marsolais, Robbie Burt, George Hajecek, Colleen Bird and Chris Morrison for a great event - we were part of something BIG!
and many thanks to all the Lion Clubs: Alberni Valley Lions, Land Park Lions, Fort Sutter Lions, Folsom Lake Lions, Maharlika Lions, Mary Dignan, Andy Rosten and Derek Ledda. Your support and kindness is second to none.