Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Report from the Wilson Half

A couple weeks ago, Coach Jerry recruited me to help Race Director Steve Nearman to add to our team of guides for visually impaired runners for the Nat'l Industries of the Blind 1/2 Marathon Championships. My assigned runner, 52 year old Rodan, is a regular with Back on My Feet, and meets regularly to train with Silas, his guide at a homeless shelter at Capital Hill. This was Silas's first half and Rodan's first race of any kind, so I suppose that is why they thought they needed another guide. I learned early on that Silas is training for MCM, and at half Rodan's age was in good shape and an old pro at this game, and they preferred using only verbal communications and no tether. This system worked great, but for the 3 or 4 times when I zoned out and cut Rodan off or we'd wander into each other.
We took advantage of the early start available for VI runners and after a couple miles, we settled into some smooth sailing down the GW Pkwy. With the early start, we had the benefit of seeing and hearing the leaders passing us by, and I got to cheer on the GRC crew, and they got to cheer on the spirited BoMF contingent as they passed. The road may have been a bit quiet for Rodan, who got excited when we went through a stop with some tunes. (It was a State Farm commercial). Apparently, they're considering the Rock n Roll National in March as their next race. A pitstop at mile 7 turned out to be an adventure, as Rodan understandably didn't want to wait in line and disrupt his pacing mojo, and got really agitated. After the figure 8's at the end of the bridge we headed up the final hill at 11, where a girl had stopped to walk in the middle of the water stop. There was nothing we could do. Rodan plowed into her. She was OK though. A little later, he surprised us and threw in an impromptu kick out of nowhere at mile 12.6 and ran up the back of a guy one of those goofy little triathlon shirts who glared back at us. Rodan was very apologetic, but really this guide should have been guiding better and maybe that kid should have been going a little faster. All told though, the guiding went pretty smoothly- 13.1 miles and no falls.

The bigger challenge was to get Rodan to the finish line, as this was his first race, and only time he'd run more than the 10 miles he ran last week, and the 8 he did the week before. His legs pretty much crapped out on him once we crossed the bridge (aside from the aforementioned 10 yards of furious kick), but he is amazingly tough and gutted the last 3 miles out with some running, some walking, and some staggering and teetering. He showed a ton of resilience kept a positive attitude throughout with Silas's help and crossed the finish line in 2:02, 1278th out of 2794 runners.

After a few minutes in the medical tent, Rodan was in good spirits once again afterwards and all three of us were proud of his truly great accomplishment.


Charlie Ban said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all!

DM said...

This is cool. Thanks for posting.