Running For Change

Next steps: low-hanging fruit

It was nice to take a break from my blog and not only physically, rest, but mentally rest as well. During this time off, I reflected a lot on the direction of my blog, what I have accomplished and where my goals lay for the coming year. For some reason, I look at the Boston Marathon as being a beginning and end to a running year, don’t ask why.
My goals for the next 10 months are to go after the low-hanging fruit. People are constantly emailing me and asking me for guidance on how to serve as a guide runner, where and how people can network and how to become an active visually impaired runner. I love running in the Boston Marathon, but it is time I focus on how I can easily help people and put my energy towards something of a greater synergy. Below is a list of goals and projects I have for the coming year:

• Youtube channel: this is how people are looking up information today. After Google, youtube is the most popular search engine. This will also help reach younger generations of people with disabilities; we all want instant gratification and information 
• Write a FAQ/manual on how to be a guide runner: I will compile a list of techniques and descriptions on how to serve as a guide runner. There are numerous methods used by people all over the world and I am going to try to provide as much information on how to serve as a casual running guide and road race guide for those who are interested.
• Developing a video on how to be a guide runner: I would like to make a video on what my preference is for a guide runner and how we communicate.
• An epic video and montage with incredible music: My amazingly talented cousin, Shelly, wrote and recorded a song based on my blog and I want to use this music to create a video which captures my story, mission and features footage of me training. Again, people are all over videos these days and this will greatly help with my outreach

Although this list is short, each of these objectives will take a great amount of time. Additionally, my goal is to become more involved with local 5k races and half-marathons. Boston is still a huge focus for me, but my work needs to go in a different direction. Furthermore, I would like to become more engaging with local efforts around fund raising for charities that are near and dear to my heart. For instance, a young woman I recently met is participating in a fund raising event for Dana-Farber and will be riding a bike over 150 miles in the Pan-Mass Challenge from August 2nd to August 3rd. Her name is Talia and after she had registerd for this event, her uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer. Apparently it has spread a bit and as soon as I learned of this, my heart sank as this story truly hits home for me. She is working hard towards meeting a goal of $5,000 and I highly encourage anyone to skip on a few coffees and throw a few dollars her way. These donations go directly towards the incredible research and work Dana-Farber is doing on cancer and their abilities are priceless. Here is a link to her page for donations and profile:

On July 13th, I will be participating in AccessportAmerica’s annual fundraising bash, the Mayors Cup Regatta. This event takes place on the Charles River in Boston and provides over 36 teams with an opportunity to raise funds for AccessportAMerica and take their claim in a little friendly rowing competition along the river. Each boat is fitted with adaptive gear for people with disabilities and can hold up to 8 rowers with one person serving as the… leader? I am not too familiar with the lingo of this sport. However, it is an incredible day filled with food, music, fund raisers and most importantly, change. Families who have been touched by AccessportAmerica come out to support and many young people and children with disabilities are also present to observe and watch the numerous amateurs paddle their way along the river. This is an intense workout and I sat in two boats last year. I will be rowing in two boats this year and possibly a few more. You can bet I have been working out my core, chest and arms for this day. I know it is all for fun, but I am just a smidgen competitive. Last year, I was made an honorary member of the class of 73 and sat in on a boat that was short one rower. They have requested that I row with them once again.
That is it for now, but keep checking in to check out the new updates and eventually, my new youtube channel. I am going to post so many silly videos on that thing; you have no idea.

I am 28-years-old and still get bullied

It has been quite a while since my last post. Just the other night, I was feeling that it was time to update folks andget back to the next steps for the Boston Blind Runner. As I was walking home from work today, I had a brief interaction and experience which quickly pushed aside my general updates for the next topic of my blog.
As I was standing at a very popular intersection of Boylston street, right near the Prudential Center and was waiting to cross the street, a car suddenly stopped at the painted cross walk and the driver then chose to verbaly attack me. “What? Are you f***ing blind? Why don’t you open your f***ing eyes?”. As soon as he was done saying what he had to say, he pulled through the intersection and headed off down the street. I was very taken back and filled with anger. My jaw became very tight, I was balling my fists and was feeling drawn towards the car. I was on the edge of reacting with a verbal attack, slamming my cane against his car or asking the man to step out of the car to say such a thing to me. However, I kept my cool and knew that reacting with the same hostility he had placed on me would not achieve anything. Sadly, after he drove away none of the people standing next to me validated the situation in any way, shape or form. No one asked if I was alright nor did anyone confirm that this guy was a true jerk-face.
As I continued on my walk to the train, I reminded myself of all of the wonderful people I have in my life, how many good out number the bad and that something horrific has told this man that this behavior is acceptable and necessary for him to display. I do not excuse him, but I feel sad that he feels as though he must take something away from another person to perhaps gain back what has been taken away from him. I have had many experiences with ignorant and hurtful comments, questions and statements. On the other hand, hostil and aggressive acts are less often but are always extremely startling. I do not dismiss what has happened to me, but am strongly reflecting on the hostil acts my friends from other minority groups encounter on a much more frequent and even deadly level. Today reminded me of how to react in some situations and that we all still have so much work to do. As always…
I am 28-years-old and still get bullied. It is true. I was also bullied when I was a kid; before and after my diagnosis of having a disability and choroideremia. I can recall a time in 8th grade when another kid down the street from where I grew up once told me on the bus that I was gay and was going to die a virgin. I was also taken back many times in situations like that one. I was so baffled by that random act of aggression. The aggressor on the bus was of a very small stature back then and probably still is now. I believe he had little man syndrome. As time went on, I also learned his father was not so gentle with his family.
I will not punch everyone, but I will question everyone. The fact that this sad man chose to act like this with no room for questioning leaves me hanging. I will certainly question the next person and I will not meet their aggression and hostility with my own. I always have, and always meet it with drive, determination and humanity.
“It gets better”. Well, does it really? I think it does, but let’s not teach our youth that it stops. Your friends, family, loved ones and resources can get better, and so can your own abilities. For right now, it does not go away. Let’s keep working at it, though.

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

Do not grab me

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.
Continue reading

This has been the longest prelude, ever

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

I am kind of like Bruce Willis

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

Bleeding nipples, raw thighs and tares… oh my.

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 word “beautiful”

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

Who wears short shorts? Josh wears short shorts!

As I oblivious as I was to running technique and training skills, I was just as oblivious to understanding what appropriate running gear is. I simply thought a lite shirt, mesh shorts and sneakers were the way to go. Those things worked out at first, but only at first. What you wear is very important and can really impact the quality of your running, as well as the comfort and safety.
Mesh shorts are great to wear for when I am lifting and am not doing long periods of cardiovascular exercise which produces a great amount of sweat. I recall one of my first long runs on the track in my home town being very challenging. I had lost around 15 pounds and was putting in a 10 mile run. Continue reading

I need a date for the 2014 marathon!

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