A few weeks ago I was asked to be the running guide for Heaven, a 10-year old visually impaired girl who lives here in Fresno. She was participating in a local event called the iCanTri Youth Triathlon. Without hesitation, my answer was YES!
The opportunity to guide her on a 1-mile run around a high school was presented as way of helping her. In the end, she led the way in showing other participants and spectators at the event that we shouldn’t let small obstacles stand in our way when trying to reach our goals.
I met Heaven on the morning of the race. I was very nervous to guide her without having trained with her. Fortunately, I had experience as a running guide. Back in 2011, I was one of two guides for Adrian for the Surf City Half Marathon and in preparation, he had taught me some guiding techniques. Running at a 7-minute per mile training pace through Griffith Park, I gained quite a bit of experience as guide. I am glad to say that Adrian forgave me for the many accidents I caused such as forgetting to tell him that there was a curb coming up. Or that there was a tree branch in his path. Or that there was a pack of cyclists heading our way.
For this iCanTri Youth Triathlon, I only had to guide Heaven around a grassy and bumpy high school. She started out with a 150-meter swim in a pool, followed by 4-mile bike ride and then finally her 1-mile run. When she got to the bike/run transition, she was so calm – it was as if she had no concerns. She was there to do something and there wasn’t anything that was going to get in the way of that goal or anything else she wants from life. She did great. She finished strong and happy. She also inspired many people along the way.
Even though we only ran together for a mile, the lessons I learned from Heaven were similar to those I learned on my training runs with Adrian. They have both taught me a lot about the triumph of the human spirit and what we can all achieve with effort and a positive attitude.
Trace B is a marathon runner and Ultramarathon runner. In 2013, she was the female winner of the Ventura Marathon. You can follow her adventures at Trace Races.