As 2015 winter arrived, I planned to sprint my way to the Rio Olympics. While blind women would qualify for the Summer Olympics in the sport of Paratriathlon, blind men would not be afforded the same opportunity. I would try to qualify for Team USA as a Track and Field sprinter. In November, I injured my hamstring for the first time ever. It took months for me to recover during which, I had plenty of frustrating days of walking/jogging. By April this year, I was healthy, but I was not fast. Ryan Nord agreed to guide me for Bank Of America Shamrock Shuffle.
Race day. As Ryan lead me to the elite tent prior to the race, I shivered. It was cold. I waited till the last possible moment to take off my pants. I opted to run in my Pinnacle Performance shorts. Worried I would be cold during the race, I layered up. Dry fit shirt, fleece vest, arm warmers, pinnacle Performance jacket, and Pinnacle racing top over all of it.
Ryan and I waited in the start corral. Two beautiful women, Jen and Wendy, came over to wish us well. Race began. It felt great to be on the race course once again. Five miles. I started slow. I would build to a strong finish. I was swept up by the cheers. I ran faster. Maybe too fast. Before mile marker one, I felt winded. I slowed down. Mile two. I realized I was overdressed.
End of mile three. Time to push. I felt winded. I cursed my winter injuries for preventing me from being in better shape. Nearing mile four, I pushed. Early in the race, I was running 8:50 per mile. I was now moving at 7:41 pace. One final obstacle. A steep hill. My pace slowed to 8:20. Once over the hill, I picked it up again. Final shoot. I topped out at 6:30.
My time was slower than last year’s Shamrock Shuffle. Considering my tough winter, I was happy. This was only the start to the season. Thank you Ryan Nord for guiding me. Thank you Jenna Parker for your friendship, encouragement, and coaching. Thank you Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring me.