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Rio Paralympic Test Race

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Rio was a blur of coconuts, bikinis, meetings and odd foods leading up to our race.  Sighted guide Lindsey Cook of Hanover Indiana and I were one of 11 athletes (9 athletes and two guides for blind athletes) to be selected for this very important ‘Test Event’ on the actual course that the Paralympics will be held on in 2016.  We were honored to be selected based on our world ITU (International Triathlon Union) ranking and the number of points we had earned this season of racing together. Most of the athletes met in Houston from all over the country,…

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My Bed is taking me to Rio

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So here I am on a beautiful Friday night indoors staring in longing at my bed.  My eyes are sore, painful and tired, my legs ache and my stomach growls with hunger.  My email pings.  It’s my coach.  It reads like this, “Hope you’re feeling better.  We’re focusing on bricks from now to Rio.”  My heart somersaults and my stomach turns.  I flip open the drawer that contains my new USA Triathlon ‘Elite’ member card and turn it over in my suntanned hands.  So this is what being an elite athlete is all about.   It’s been exactly two years…

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The Best Race of our Lives

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I don’t know where to begin.  The month of sleepless nights and pre-race anxiety?  The daily torturous workouts from Coach Ray Kelly??  Or the feeling of standing on the podium and crying while the National Anthem played?  Or how about the feeling of flying past some of the fastest triathletes in the world on a blazing fast bike course?   Guide Lindsey and I had prepared in every possible way for this race, saving penny after penny to get ourselves down to Clermont Florida two weeks prior to test out our abilities on the new bike and to acclimate ourselves…

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Leaping blindly into 2015

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2014 ended in the most perfect fashion, given the year I’ve had.  What began with 7 glaucoma procedures in 6 weeks to maintain the limited vision in my left eye, ended  running a race with my team in Central Park at midnight to celebrate all of my accomplishments this year. It feels sort of like an out-of-body experience.   Did I really just do all that?  Did I travel to Florida to speak on behalf of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Antigua to speak out against Glaucoma, Colorado to learn how to race tandem bikes, Dallas to compete and win…

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Anacondas and Crocodiles- Part 3 Racing the mighty Amazon

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Howie wheeled his chair up to the front desk after we had cleaned up from the morning’s race.  “Hey man, we want to do a jungle tour.  Something REALLY dangerous.  Do you think you can hook us up?”  The hotel concierge eyed us all warily.  “What do you mean, dangerous?”  “We want to see snakes, and jaguars, and sloths, and piranhas and stuff.  Like a total-immersion kind of thing.  You think you can help us out with that?”  “Let me see what I can do sir.”  “Oh yeah, do you think it’s wheelchair accessible?”  “I’ll see what I can do.”…

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Anacondas and Crocodiles- Part 2-Racing the Mighty Amazon

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Karen and I bantered back and forth nervously as we made the long walk from the bike/ run transition area down a steep ramp leading to the vast sandy beach along the Rio Negro.  “Should I wear my wetsuit?  The other girls are wearing wetsuits.  But then again, they’re FROM this place, and acclimated to this heat.  Perhaps I should skip it?  I don’t want to overheat, but I don’t want to sacrifice speed.  Let’s check out the water temp and decide from there.” Karen held my hand as we made our way down the complicated slats of carpet-covered plywood…

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Cancelled Flights and Crocodiles- Racing the Mighty Amazon

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    Cancelled flights, missing bikes, anacondas and crocodiles.  This race had it ALL.  “We have to get off the plane?  Why do we have to get off the plane?” I implored the stewardess.  “Mam, there is an hydraulic issue with the plane and we are awaiting the part or a new replacement plane.” “But my BIKE is on THIS plane!”  My triathlon guide Karen and I slowly made our way off the comfort of our roomy bulkhead seats on the American Airlines plane bound for Miami, then ultimately to my race in the jungle of Manaus, Brazil. Angry and…

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Guiding Eyes Wine, Music and Puppies Wine Tasting

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Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Heeling Autism Service Dogs Jordan, Madison and Elvis rocked the wine event with myself, Blessing Offor and Peter Cole What an exciting day leading the 5th Annual ‘Wine, Music and Puppies’ Wine tasting at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown NY, hosted by Zachy’s Wines.  More than a dozen visually impaired guide dog users attended; a delight to my guide dog Elvis, who enjoyed visiting with and having a good ‘sniff’ with each and every one.  We raised a handsome sum thanks to the 140 generous attendees who tasted through 5 wines guided…

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The Disabled Club

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This rainy, dark morning I stepped onto the bus and tucked my Guiding Eyes Dog Elvis carefully under the seat for the ride to my triathlon coach’s gym.   At the next stop, the gentleman I see each week at the local Starbucks stepped on. His name is Bill. Bill has special needs.  Bill is a Special Olympian, at least according to the jacket I see him wear every day.  Bill cannot communicate verbally.  You see, Bill has either had a severe stroke, Parkinson’s or has developmental challenges.  I’m not sure exactly what has happened to his mind or body….

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