Hats Off To BCRR!
On September 6 2008, as I was preparing for my trip to Houston TX, I decided to tap into the Houston running community. I'd be there for three weeks, and was feeling sad and anxious about not being able to run during that time. I had never been to Houston before, and having been blind since the age of two, I would need to find people that could guide me on some runs.
Thankfully, my E-mail seeking volunteer running guides and a running club that would offer short and long runs was well received by Eddie Rodriguez from the Bayou City Road Runners club. I received a speedy reply from Eddie telling me that I was certainly welcome to join the club for the usual Wednesday run, on Sundays for a long run, and that he would help me to find guides. My anxiety and sadness soon turned to relief and excitement!
Eddie and I stayed in touch with each other, and he and Anna Summerel Helm met me for my first Wednesday run with BCRR on September 10. I went out with Anna for a 7M run, which was fantastic! It was Anna's first time guiding a blind runner; but she was confident and smooth with her guiding as she led me around trees, past runners and cyclists, and across big intersections on our way to the Rose Garden and along the Bayou. Not only was I glad to get in a run, but it was a treat to run through some of the neighborhoods and streets of Houston—certainly a neat way of experiencing a new city. Later into my stay in Houston, I also joined Anna for a speed workout by St. Thomas High School. She bravely guided me through some 800Meter repeats over rough and tricky terrain, a responsibility many would not have taken on. We both stayed relaxed though, and smiled a couple of times (I'm sure) as we passed other runners along the way!
The BCRR hospitality would be further extended to me on two other occasions. I had the pleasure of being guided by Esme (from Italy) on a 15 mile run on an unusually cool Sunday morning. We had what Esme calls a "true Kenyan" run, an easy start, picked it up comfortably as the miles went on, and were flying by the end. This was possible because of Esme's natural talent and ability to adapt so quickly to guiding, her confidence and determination in getting us to reach our running goal for the day, and her contagious energy. All of these factors allowed me to relax and trust her almost instantly, and to have a great run filled with great conversation. Breakfast with the team afterwards was the icing on the cake that morning.
Finally, I also went for a morning run through a neighborhood on the west side of town with Eric Stotzer. Experiencing a local neighborhood, and being able to get a true sense of Ike's impact, will always be memorable. Eric did a great job at figuring out how to guide me over the many speed bumps, despite us running in almost total darkness as many areas were still without power.
BCRR, a huge thanks for making me feel so welcome, and for being such an admirable and inspiring group of individuals. It is not often that people can or are willing to find time to volunteer, especially when it may mean donating some of your workout time! But all of you were amazing! I look forward to keeping in touch, to running with BCRR in the future.