This weekend is going to go down in history as one of the best, I just know it. Michelle and I find ourselves in one of the most cool positions this weekend. We have been given the honor of guiding Patricia Walsh through Ironman Texas. Patricia is a blind athlete from Seattle who was just named to the 2011 USA Paratriathlon National Team. She’s fast, she’s fit, and she’s ready to storm the castle. Read here for a great article NUUN put out on all of us.

Patricia’s guide backed out just a few weeks ago and Michelle and I were asked to step in and assume the guiding roll. Michelle will swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles, and I will run 26.2 miles with her. It’s going to rock.

There are a few things I just want to highlight about guiding, and about Patricia. Okay, one…there is a current rule rolling around (not 100% sure where it’s gaining steam) but the rule that’s being thrown around is that all blind athletes have to wear black out glasses during the run of a triathlon. It’s one of the first instances that I’ve seen the triathlon “powers that be” attempt to further the disability of certain athletes in order to “level the playing field” as they say. Not all blind athletes are completely dark, and to force them to race in an even more foreign environment just busts my chops. Stepping off soapbox now.

Patricia is on the left wearing black out glasses, that are quite bothersome. She won’t be wearing them during IM Texas.

Number two…Patricia packed her tandem bike to come to this race…by herself. Next time you are dragging your bike to a bike shop to have them pack it for you, just remember that one. Watching her put it together…I’ll never forget that.

Okay, onwards! So today we had a few things that needed fixing with the tandem and we had to get Michelle fitted on it as well. I have to throw a huge shout out to the guys at the Quintana Roo booth. Oh My Goodness. First off, they let Michelle and I demo a few bikes that we had been drooling over (CD 0.1), thank you guys. BUT THEN, when we were struggling to get everything set on the tandem, these guys hunted down a trainer, set up the tandem, and worked for 45+ minutes getting everyones seats, handlebars, and pedals fitted and perfected. I was blown away by how much they helped us out. Thank you Quintana Roo, I can not say it enough.

PS: Michelle just cracked her frame on her Isaac TT bike….and Michelle and I have the same bike…which means that if she gets a new one….well, I might have to as well. I think we just might know what those new bikes will look like. Pink Camo?

So tomorrow is a special day. I am looking forward to every one of those 26.2 miles that I have the honor of running with Patricia. She is very ready to race, and I am very ready to be with her step by step. For those of you that are wondering, we will be tethered at the waist, just as she will be with Michelle during the swim. Obviously, as I mentioned, she will ride a tandem with Michelle, and yes, she will ride in the rear position, although you wouldn’t believe how many times we have been asked that. Really?

My job will be easy since Patricia is really on the ball. She senses things that those of us who can see don’t pick up. Her awareness makes me feel at times like I am the blind one. My own preconceptions have been blown away and I thank her for answering all of my naieve and uninformed questions this weekend. Patricia has earned a membership for life on Team PIC, and I can’t wait to witness her journey tomorrow (Patricia is #81 and you can track her on Ironman.com)

A special thanks again to Quintana Roo for all their help. We are all racing with QR tattoos tomorrow to thank them for their generosity. Also a big thank you to Kompetitive Edge for not even batting an eye when we asked to race in C-Different uniforms for this race. You guys support us so well, and you “get it”. Thank you for that.

Good night all.

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Ironman, Marathon, Triathlon

8 Comments

  1. Proud to ride QR knowing how they went above and beyond for you guys in TX. I can’t picture many bike guys doing that. Loved following along on Saturday. Congrats again to the three of you for a great race and to Patricia for cracking the 12-hour mark she was shooting for.

    P.S. I am more motivated than ever to learn how to break down and build my bike. ( ;

  2. What an awesome opportunity!!! Every person you meet will teach you something if you let them. I love the pink camo bike, too!!! Keep doing good! You’re an inspiration to us all!!!

  3. You guys really did an awesome job! What an inspiration!!! And the QR bike in camo totally kicks ass, Love mine to death = actually any of the QR bikes are top notch :)

  4. You guys are so awesome for helping Patricia out. And yes, Quintana Roo rocks. I bought a Chicqilo (entry-level non-camo, non-carbon version for us poor folk 😉 ) this spring and haven’t looked back. Love her to pieces!

  5. Great job ladies! I enjoyed this IM as much as any other!

    PINK CAMO?!!! Wow, that is soooo cool!!

  6. Thank you, Sonja, for giving back to our sport and especially in such a wonderful manner. This will make Patricia’s day, and it speaks volumes to others who are physically challenged. You are a tremendous role model, Sonja.

  7. The blackout rule is an ITU one. It is mandatory now and a part of the classification rules as approved when triathlon was added as a Paralympic sport. Classification is one of the most controversial and complex parts of parasport. As a challenged athlete in a non obvious category (non amputee, non wheelchair) it is a huge struggle and I welcome you to our soapbox :-)

    I am so excited for you and Michelle. What a fantastic opportunity!

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