This coming Saturday, I will be participating in 2/3's of Ironman Texas and PIC will do the other 1/3!! I am so excited about this!! Here's the story:
A couple of years ago I met Matt Miller who started the C Different foundation. C Different is a non-profit foundation that was created to enable blind and visually impaired athletes compete in athletic events, with their main focus being on triathlons in general, and Ironman distance triathlons in particular. C Different pairs sighted guides who complete the triathlons with the athlete in all phases of the race: swim, bike, run. Matt was guiding Aaron Scheides in Clearwater for the 2009 70.3 World Championships and I remember seeing Matt and Aaron on the final stretch of the run as I was heading out for my second lap. It was incredible - they were tethered by the waist and running (kicking ass) side-by-side. Totally inspiring and amazing. I think they finished around 4:15.
Last summer, Matt and I trained quite a bit together as he was preparing for Ironman Lake Placid and we talked lots about C Different, USAT's treatment of vision-impaired athletes, the athletes and the guides. I was absolutely fascinated by guiding and knew that at some point I would guide an athlete. He actually asked me to guide at Ironman Lake Placid last year!!! And after careful consideration, I said no - I think I should do an Ironman on my own before taking the responsibility to guide someone else!
Fast forward to three weeks ago......I got a text from Matt. It said something to the effect of would you like to guide an athlete at Ironman Texas? Her guide canceled on her last minute (3 weeks to go) and she has been training for a year. You could do the swim and the bike and PIC could do the run. I was definitely interested and so was PIC!
We asked our families if they would be OK with us heading out of town (again) to support this athlete. They said Yes (and a HUGE thank you to Michael for holding down the fort while I'm out). We asked our Coach if it would be OK for us to guide this athlete - it seemed to fit in perfectly with our seasons - he said YES!! So, Coach is doing a quick bike build for me (6 hours today) and same for Sonja on the run.
On Thursday, we will head to Texas and meet Patricia, our athlete. She is an amazing individual, she's run a stand-alone marathon in around 3:15. She's already done an Ironman. She wants to break 12 hours in Texas. Sonja and I will do everything we can to help her achieve her goal. I spoke with her earlier this week and I really can't wait to meet her!
How does this work you ask? Well, I'm not sure. But we will be tethered at the waist during the swim and I will swim beside her to guide her along the course. This is the hardest part for her as she's dark (totally blind) and gets disoriented in the water. Then, we will hop on her tandem bike and we will ride 112 miles together. She told me a tandem is kind of tough to get going - clipping in and starting - so we will practice before Saturday. We will also practice bottle hand-offs. After the ride, Sonja takes over and runs! To say that this brings PIC (Partner In Crime) to a new level is an understatement. We are both incredibly excited and grateful to have this opportunity to help Patricia and to give back to our sport in a somewhat unexpected way.
On Saturday, cheer Patricia on!! I will post her number later in the week so that you can follow her progress on Ironman.com.
Since C Different is a non-profit, they can always use funds to continue to support the amazing things that these athletes and guides are doing. If you have a few extra dollars (or even extra hundreds:), your donation will be greatly appreciated. Please donate here!!!