As everyone who reads this blog regularly knows, finding sighted guides has been the greatest challenge for me as a blind athlete. Originally, I had wanted to compete in a triathlon and eventually attempt to make the 2016 Paralympic Games, but finding guides who are the same sex and who do all legs of the race has been quite difficult. So, I had made a few changes, deciding that finding a guide for just one sport, as opposed to three, would be easier. I'm not saying it was easier, but I may have made a small break through. In disability sport, every baby step is celebrated and so I am just excited to have made the progress that I have.
and the RNIB have partnered up to assist blind and visually impaired runners find guides. When new members create profiles, they are asked if they are blind or visually impaired or if they would be willing to be a guide runner. Because of this program, I may have made contact with two potential guide runners.
The first person I got a response from is a guy who lives in England, but he is very excited to guide and is willing to be a guide for races. We've already discussed some races to compete in and we're supposed to have a phone chat tomorrow evening. Sure, it's not ideal with him living so far away, but he's willing to travel for races and to help with a workout plan and that is a good start.
The other person is a woman who is actually quite local to me. Mr. K and I are going to be moving this upcoming weekend and our move brings us even closer to her. She and I had a little coffee date on Friday and then went for a short 2 K run to get an idea of whether or not we fit and to see if she liked it. We didn't use a tether, just draped my forearm over hers in order to learn how each other's body movements felt, but I think we did really well considering we had just met and she had never guided a blind person walking before, never mind running.
She is quite a bit taller than me, but I actually think that is good. Our stride is quite similar and we hardly broke step with one another. Her verbal cues were good as well. Once, she had to jump over a puddle, but I did not and she warned me well enough in advanced that she just hopped over, I kept running and then our feet fell back in sync.
We chatted the whole time we ran and I found her body movements really easy to follow. When she was going uphill, she leaned forward and I could feel the power from her legs pushing her up the hill. When going down, her weight shifted backwards and her stride lengthened, which I could feel without her saying anything. I was surprised at how well we worked together despite only having met an hour before.
After the run, I wasn't sure how she felt about it so I told her to think about it and to contact me when she had made a decision. We agreed that if she wanted to guide, we could make a schedule at the beginning of every week and go from there. Due to her working schedule, we can run together only once or twice a week, but that is definitely better than nothing
Needless to say, I was very excited when I received a text from her last night asking me if I wanted to run Wednesday evening. She's even going to pick me up. That last bit was every bit as surprising as the first. Here was a woman that I spent just over an hour talking with and then just under another hour running with and she already knows how to make things easier for me and she doesn't mind.
So, I think that if all goes well on Wednesday, I'll have a part time guide runner who is local to me. How very exciting.
I've always believed in the saying, "good things come to those who wait," but, to be honest, my faith had begun to waiver a bit. It definitely has been restored.
I've put a few more feelers out with other organisations and will continue to do so because the more guides I have, the better. So even though this has been a long process, I think persistence has won out here. There is still a lot of work to do, but each small victory moves me one step closer to my end goal of running a marathon.