Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some Different Inspirations

If I spent time writing about all of things that I get to experience in supporting local road races and triathlons, among other service opportunities, I wouldn't have time to get much else done -- and things such as faith, my daughter and work need to take priority.

One of the most challenging things for me over the years - in what I get the opportunity to do -- has been the arrogance of some of the athletes that I've encountered.  It is a very small percentage, but enough to be a major discouragement.

For every one of those, thank goodness, there's 10, 20 or 50 individuals who are truly inspiring.

I witnessed one last weekend at the Exygon and Baptist Hospitals Gusher Marathon when 32-year-old Iram Leon pushed his six-year-old daughter Kiana in a borrowed stroller to win the race after the race directors, Rich and Amie James, bent their rules to give him an opportunity that many other races wouldn't.

Why?  He has brain cancer, but also because he's doing his best to create memories for his daughter if the worst shall happen.

I interviewed, during our Running Alliance Sport Marathon Preview Show from the Houston Marathon Expo two months ago, Brandon Adame - a blind athlete with an incredible personality and spirit who doesn't let that challenge stop him from achieving what other adults only dream of.

One of those accomplishments is a finish - with his guide, Nigel Willerton - in the inaugural Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas almost two years ago.

Even if you see Iram and Brandon dressed in non-athletic attire, you might perceive them to be athletes.

In the same way, more than likely, you'd stereotype Missouri City's Peter Raybourn as one who wasn't.

La Porte fireman Tony Constanzo - a recent Rocky Raccoon 100-mile finisher - and I had a chance to visit with the 51-year-old at the completion of today's Seabrook Lucky Trail Half Marathon and I gained an even deeper appreciation about how every person that signs up for a race or competition of any kind does it for their own reason.

And the one thing that I wish that I could impress on everyone is that your reason or your ability isn't any better than anyone else's.

Peter's a big man.  Your first instinct may be to think why a 330-pound man, if he was going to come out and participate in such an event, wouldn't work more diligently to lower his weight to better his performance.

I can't speak for Peter in my short conversation with him today, but he's been down to as low as 270 - and is aiming to get back there.  However, for many, many years, he weighed 465 pounds.

That's a loss - in body weight - of an entire athletic female!

He's completed the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler not once, not twice, but five (5) times.

I know of some accomplished athletes that won't even try it once.

My best friend, besides my daughter, once told me that if you can train to run a marathon that you can finish a 50-miler.

And Tony will have to correct me if I misheard, but I believe that Peter has completed the MS150 distance five times.

Of course, that's really nothing to many Ironman athletes who'll do up to six century rides in getting ready for the 140.6-mile journey.

But Peter's legally blind.

His corrected vision is 20/300.  His field (or range) of vision is, I believe he said, about five percent (or degrees) now.

He hasn't driven a vehicle since 1998.

His primary goal was - and still is (if he can get under the new 15-hour, 50-mile time limit at Rocky) - to get to 500 miles to get the special jacket that Joe Prusaitis gives out.

If not, he's still happy in finishing half marathons - and an occasional marathon - at Steve and Paula Boone's Texas Marathon, Daryl Beatty's Surfside Beach Marathon and Robby Sabban's Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon as well as a variety of Joe's trail races.

And he's most appreciative of those races versus other large events that dispatch him - and others - to the sidewalks after 10 miles.

It is men and women like Iram, Brandon and Peter that keep me giving what talents that I have in supporting and recognizing their accomplishments long after the less-gracious athletes are  off and away pontificating their smackdowns of those that they think that they're better than.

No comments: