If you want to run forever, some times you can not run today – I will not be running in the 2014 marathon
Life is funny. Hardly anything seems to go as predicted or hoped for. On the other hand, if it has, then perhaps you have not taken too many risks. Me, I love risks and adventure. This journey of marathon has certainly been an adventure filled with risks. As I have learned in 2012 and 2013, you can plan for what you believe will happen but will then be faced with elements you had never imagined. The brutal heat of 2012 struck me down and then the terrible bombing of 2013 redefined what I take for granted in life. Well, the 2014 year has introduced me to an element of challenge that I would have never predicted would stand in the way of me and finally cross the finish line at the Boston marathon. That element is myself. Continue reading
I remind myself every day that people have good intentions. Sure, they may do or say something that is ignorant, but they do have good intentions. This does not allow for me to feel that what they have said or done is acceptable, but it simply helps me understand and be empathetic. More often than not, I find myself working very hard to practice this when people are trying to be of assistance, but are actually being insensitive and honestly unawaringly insulting.
I have been working my way through another slight set back this year. In late January, I slightly twisted my left ankle during a run with my guide for the marathon this year. It was not a terrible twist, but the issue is that it was the ankle and leg I have had injuries with over the last 2 years. Because of this, this slight twist had a strong impact on my ability to run. Fortunately, I have been seeing a physical therapist and I am back in running shape. I am in a bit of a time crunch, but with a solid 7 weeks left to run, I feel confident that this is plenty of time to fit in some good long runs and be prepared for the marathon this year. Well, it is enough time for an amature runner to be able to train to the extent that they know they will be able to cross the finish line of a marathon. That’s good enough. Continue reading
For as long as I can remember, I have narrowly escaped numerous situations where I should have suffered grave injuries. For some reason, I have not been as hurt as one would have expected. On one hand, many of these situations have possibly been due to my constant need to adapt to the loss of vision and not meeting these new demands as well as I should. On the other hand, I believe I am also simply a goof. Regardless, the combination of these two qualities makes for some dicey, yet interesting experiences. Continue reading
Like I have stated before, I would have stopped doing this a long time ago if I was only doing it for myself. Marathon training is demanding and exhausting on a physical and mental level. Many people have asked me what I believe is the most challenging part about doing all of this. Many things are challenging, but I would say that the tole all of this takes on my body is one of the most exhausting pieces to this journey.
Until I lose enough fat off my thighs, I typically develop a rash from engaging in long runs. When I start focusing on a marathon, some of the first few long runs result in a raw rash on my thighs. Continue reading
The definition of this word, in my opinion, is very relative. It can vary by country, culture and individual. As endless are the variations of human features, so are the examples of what is a beautiful person. However, there are many messages and values that attempt to dictate what is most beautiful and desirable. This emphasis on a narrow and selective vision for claiming who is most beautiful is harmful and it is out there; straight hair, big boobs, slim build, big muscles, light skin and so many other traits are held with praise over others. At the same time, some have tried to drive culture away from this definition by stating that those with the aforementioned traits are not attractive, or are not what “real” beauty is. Continue reading
The marathon is about three and a half months away from now and I still have something very important to figure out: who my guide is going to be. This is a very important part of the marathon. This is not simply about finding someone who will do something for me. Rather, it is about finding someone who will be something with me. The mission I have is only successful as a partnership and that is exactly what I see my guide runners as. We are partners, we put in equal effort and have as much invested as the other. Most importantly, there is mutual respect for one another. Continue reading
I have been reflecting on what has been posted on this blog. There is much about perspective, successes in culture and challenges in culture towards disability as well. I have written about the feelings I experience when I run and what this has meant for others. Many powerful and important topics have been covered on this blog and in my outreach. On the other hand, I have neglected to write about something that is not only important, but inevitable to experience in my life and others who are in a similar situation as myself. That experience is the feeling of realizing when your vision has further dwindled… the feeling of knowing that something just happened that never would have happened in the past. The feeling of telling yourself it was just a random accident and that you were spacing out. Continue reading
I have a wonderful job at Berklee College of Music and every October, my office brings a group of students into the woods of New Hampshire to discuss and explore identity, privilege, oppression and social change. It is an incredible experience for both the students and the facilitators. We utilize a space called the Sargent Center, which is actually owned and operated by Boston University. It is located on a dirt road in the small town of Hancock. It is much like where I grew up, in Barnstead, New Hampshire.
A new colleague, friend and fellow running enthusiast came on the trip as a facilitator. She had mentioned that she was training for her first 5k. I told her that it would be great to run together around the grounds, as there is an extensive dirt road around the center of the facility that I believe stretches just over 1 mile. Fortunately, she liked the idea and we both brought our running gear. Continue reading
I graduated from high school in the spring of 2005. At that time, my vision had just crossed over into very difficult territory. Seeing faces, depth perception and reading, especially reading, became nearly impossible. I knew that my life was entering a completely new stage and that my educational experience was also going to change. For many reasons, my educational experience was about to become much, much more challenging.
I entered UNH in the fall of 2005 and started using a cane on the same day I moved on campus. Not only was I moving out my home, I was literally stepping into a new identity filled with new experiences and challenges. My academics became quite a challenge. Alternative text, addressing inaccessible aspects of course assignments, having exams read and scribed, sitting down with faculty before class begins to explain my background and possible needs and dealing with ignorance and blatent oppression, to some extent, made my academics quite challenging. I have had wonderful supports and resources along the way, but there have been many bumps in the road. These bumps were smaller in number, but a spider is a small animal. Although it is small, one bite can possibly kill a person, can’t it? I’ve been biten quite a few times.
I have had faculty single me out and marginalize me in class. Guest speakers have entered the room and made comments about the current culture of students in higher education today and refer to how young, unprofessional or wise they are, certainly those wearing sunglasses indoors during a class, and they look at me, point me out and remind me of how unknown my community is and that she and many others have not been taught that someone wearing sunglasses indoors, who you did not see walk in with a cane, may be visually impaired. I have been infantilized by faculty who call out in the middle of a class and ask who will read an article that was just handed out to me, because they forgot to send it via email before class, so my computer can read it to me privately. I have had faculty hault communication with me before a class begins as they are concerned about doing something wrong and feel the need to immediately contact their Dean for guidance. They seek guidance for somethng that is rarely discussed and connected with faculty development or discussed in general conversations about teaching. My community, like many others, are marginalized. I have felt worry, intimidation, nervousness and isolation towards me from all sorts of people over the last 8 years of being a student in higher education. I have felt the feeling of being the sole visible minority on campus, using a cane and being easily identifiable as having a visual imparement. I have also been very, very strong.
I came to Boston in fall of 2010 to start my M.A. in Higher Education at Boston College. It is typically a 2 year program, but with the passing of my parents and working full time during my second year, I took a leave of absence and did not register for my last course until this summer. I still have my final exam in October of this year, but I had my last class this past THursday. It was a wonderful course and a class mate of mine brought a delicious treat. They were beef patties, a West Indian food that consist of ground beef and spices baked inside of a delicious dough. Class ended and there was only one left. I happily took the treat and headed home.
As I was walking through the incredibly quite campus, eating my beef patty and enjoying the rainy weather, it hit me. I had made it. This wall, this thick skin… this guard I have put up to survive this adversity suddenly came down and all that I had experienced over the last 8 years hit me like a brick wall. I have survived and I have won. All of the challenging experiences and wonderful experiences flew through my mind like a fast forwarded home movie. I could see the 19 year old me on move in day at UNH, using a cane for the first time, not too sure of how his first year of college, or the rest of his life, was going to go. I could recall the worry in my parents about the same concerns. I could recall, all of the monumental victories over the last 8 years which have led me to the success that I now have. I was so filled with pride. I had won this war.
I began to cry and felt this urge to announce my victory. Rather than shouting into the quite air of an empty campus so late at night, I stood on top of a concrete fixture and raised my hands into the air. I stood victorious and claimed my dreams. I know that my parents, where ever they are, were also raising their hands in the air. This was something my entire family faught for. Not just I, but we, made it.
The numerous times my father stopped what he was doing to help me bring my broken computer to get repaired. All of the papers my sister has proof read and said were fantastic. Every single hug my mother gave me that I know was out of love and pride for how far I had come and was going. At 9:00pm on June 27th, we made it.