This past Sunday, I ran as a guide for Achilles International, an organization for disabled athletes. Although it was my overall 12th marathon, it was my first marathon as a guide. It was an incredibly difficult, overwhelming, emotional, and beautiful experience. I was paired with a 25 year old blind runner, Eddy, who I had met with twice beforehand. Before our marathon together, Eddy showed me his spirit of positivity, gratefulness, and sincerity, so I knew that that would help carry me through our run together. And it did.
This is what I wrote to my instagram account yesterday, so I apologize for the double post on it, but I think it clearly explains my thinking around my whole experience…..it was unbelievable and oh so hard.
To say it was hard is an understatement. Every step I took, I searched to see if Eddy could also fit in to that box. The path was congested and there were people EVERYWHERE. Eddy did not wear a shirt anywhere that marked he was blind or disabled, and we were not tethered together as many blind runners are with their guides — therefore my guidance was my voice. So I was constantly telling him about the people next to him or in front of him and we created our own system where I would yell out “GOOSE” and he would file in back of me so we could squeeze between people and then we would get back together in our formation. I was weaving in and out of the crowd not just calculating my moves, but Eddy’s too.
Throughout the difficult moments of actually running the marathon, being responsible for Eddy’s well being, being concerned of his safety and happiness, and just trying to get through the miles, I was extremely grateful for all the support along the way. Not only were there thousands of people on the street inspiring us to move forward, but all the texts and calls made the biggest difference. And of course, seeing Eddy run a marathon, was inspirational. It was not easy, nor was it pretty, but man, was it beautiful.
I was so focused on the course and helping Eddy navigate that I barely looked at the people on the sidelines. Normally, I look at everyone and wave back, but this time, my mind was on Eddy. So although I had many friends out on the course, I didn’t see the majority of them. Here I did, and I was so happy to see someone I knew.
Thank you for letting me share this experience with you. I spent yesterday processing the day and feeling all the feels. It was an extraordinary day and I know that I will forever be touched by Eddy.