Monday, September 28, 2015

I always said I make a good Wingman...

I'm dusting off the blog to share my latest passion. Funny enough, I blogged about being a Wingman in 2010, The meaning was a little different, but I've always said I make a good wingman, or "right hand man". Give me a task and I will do whatever I can to make it happen. After watching Melinda, a fellow triathlete, on her journey as a Wingman for some time now, I finally joined Athletes Serving Athletes. This organization helps disabled athletes experience the thrill of athletic competition.

I lost the passion for racing some time ago, but I love having a goal. Watching Melinda help some amazing athletes reach their goals got the fire going in my belly again, this time to pursue helping someone else complete their race. On a recent training run, one of the coordinators was telling me that hearing a disabled athlete speak about his races was truly incredible. I've had the pleasure of seeing Sean on each of my Annapolis training runs. When Sean speaks publicly about his experience, he says that even though he can't run, he feels the adrenaline before a race. He feels the pre-race nerves and excitement, and gets to experience the rush of the wind and the thrill of racing.

On my first training run as a Wingman, I ran with Sean, who gave me investment advice and critiqued my driving of the Jogger in which he was riding. This young man was brimming with personality. He shows up week after week for training runs, and loves participating in races with ASA. This article was written about Caleigh, another athlete I have had the pleasure of running with. If you wonder why this organization is worthwhile, this explains it. The amazing thing about these athletes? There isn't talk about race times, or equipment, or PRs, or competition (although some are known to tease the wingmen out if they "aren't going fast enough"). There is just a love of the sport... A love of being able to do something they might not otherwise be able to do. Each training run I have attended, there is great camaraderie between the athletes, wingmen, and families of athletes. Some of the parents run with us, other times they catch up with one another while their athlete is out running.

How does being a wingman work? Usually you run with 3 wingmen and an athlete in a jogger. The wingmen take turns pushing the jogger, rotating as the group determines. Each time I've run, we have settled into a rhythm of trading off the jogger. The pace isn't record breaking, but set to the comfort level of the slowest runner. In this situation, it is truly about the journey, not the time. I have left every training run feeling beyond blessed to have been given this opportunity. For all my runner friends, I encourage you to consider this... even one race in the next year could mean an incredible adventure for a disabled athlete.  The motto of Athletes Serving Athletes is "Together We Finish".

For more info about Athletes Serving Athletes, click here.

To visit my Athletes Serving Athletes fundraising page, click here.