2018 Year in Review
Wow, what a year. There were some tremendous highs, a few lows, a lot of learning, growth and development. I pushed myself in ways I didn’t know possible. I was able to turn a hobby into a career and have set myself up for a, hopefully, incredible 2019. Because I know we’re all preparing for some end of year celebrations I’ll keep this #eyeronvision newsletter short and sweet by just hitting a couple of highlights 🙂
January: Attended Camp No Sight No Limits and met several new friends, guides and my eventual coach. Also attended my first Race Across America Training Camp for Team Sea to See and became acquainted with my team members.
February: hired now 5X Off Road Triathlon World Champion Lesley Paterson to coach me for 2018.
March: Took 4th place at my first International Triathlon Union (ITU) race at the CAMTRI American Championship in Sarasota, Fla, guided by my buddy Matt Miller.
April: Through a steady rain, consistent wind and cold, I broke the 4 hour barrier for the first time (3:55:14) in a marathon at the Boston Marathon with my buddy Pete Fowler, beating my previous best marathon time by more than 23 minutes. The race was made even more special because it was my sister, Kelsey’s, first Boston Marathon and getting to share the experience with her was incredible. Oh yeah, I met this crazy Scottish dude named Alan Greening who likes to drink beer and whiskey and who does sub 11 hour Ironman with regularity. Lesley thought we’d get along and thought Alan would be a great person to guide me for Ironman Arizona in November.
Also attended training camp number two for Race Across America with Team Sea to See.
May: Attended the United States Association of Blind Athletes Tandem Cycling Camp hosted at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center.
Also finally rode up Independence Pass with my buddy Everet Minute piloting the limo (15 plus miles of nearly 4000 ft of elevation gain topping out at more than 12000 ft above sea level).
June: Race Across America with Team Sea to See. 3067 miles, 180000 plus ft of elevation gain, 12 states, three major mountain ranges, four major rivers, four tandem bikes, four blind/visually impaired stokers, four sighted pilots, three RVs, three 15 passenger vans, a mini-van, 20 plus of the most amazing support crew, 12 person camera crew, starting in Oceanside, Calif and finishing in Annapolis, Md in 7 days 15 hours 3 minutes. We became the first four tandem team with all blind or visually impaired stokers to complete Race Across America. An experience that taught me so much about team work, friendship, stress management, sleep management, pain tolerance, how to turn adversity into an advantage, and how focusing on a vision can bring people together to achieve remarkable things. Of course the ultimate story that everyone always wants to hear about is how Chris Howard and I crashed in Kansas and somehow scraped ourselves off the road to finish strong even though it turned out I had a pretty significant fracture in my right arm. Thank you Chris and the entire crew for helping me gut out those last three or four days. I don’t manage without the support of the entire team.
July: The Lake Christine Fire forces my family to evacuate our home. Fortunately we’re able to return after a few days but we know people who lost everything. It was a sobering event that was a reminder to be grateful for the things we have and to cherish memories over possessions.
Later that month, Kelsey and I ran the Power of 4 25K Trail Race in Aspen. My first official trail race experience and the first time my sister ever guided me in a race/official event. What a blast and I can’t wait to add more trail races to my race calendar.
August: Attended the USA Triathlon/United States Association of Blind Athletes Triathlon Camp hosted at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. This was the first time Alan Greening and I got on the limo together and I’m pretty sure Alan thought he was going to die. But we figured it out and had an awesome camp experience and were confident that we’d be able to pull off a good race at Ironman Arizona in November.
September: Raced Ironman 70.3 Augusta with my buddy Danny Craven and fell just short of my goal of breaking 5 hours finishing the 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike and 13.1 mi run in 5:01:42.
October: Raced my second ITU race at the Sarasota-Bradenton World Cup guided by my buddy Zack Goodman. We were able to grab my first podium with a 2nd place finish despite the race being modified to a duathlon (run, bike, run) rather than a triathlon (swim, bike, run) due to poor water quality.
Less than two weeks after this I was informed that my application to live and train full time at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center as part of the USA Paratriathlon Resident Team was accepted.
November: Ironman Arizona with Alan Greening. 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi run completed in 10:59:17. We were able to pull off our goal of breaking 11 hours and in doing so I became the first totally blind triathlete to go under 11 hours for an Ironman 140.6 Branded race and only the third person who is blind or visually impaired to do so. Thank you Alan for helping me push through to achieve that goal we’d set.
December: Attended the United States Association of Blind athletes Marathon National Championship at the California International Marathon as a spectator and social media representative for USABA. What a blast cheering on and sharing the stories of so many awesome athletes.
I then spent a few days with my good friend Deb Yoder who was one of our RV Managers for Race Across America and who guided at the USABA Marathon National Championship despite the fact that she lost nearly everything she owned in the Paradise Fires only a few weeks before. Spending those couple of days with Deb showed me once again the power of community and how we choose to confront adversity is so important.
Only a few days after returning from California I went to Colorado Springs and covered the USA Paracycling Track National Championships via Twitter for the United States Association of Blind Athletes.
A couple of days later I flew to Florida to visit my older sister, brother-in-law and brand-new niece for some much needed family and relaxation time.
Now it’s the last day of the year. A day to look back and reflect on the year past, but also a time to look forward to the year ahead. There’s no doubt I had some epic experiences in 2018. I don’t accomplish any of them without the incredible team of people that helped me along the way.
Thank you to everyone who guided me on runs, bike rides and in races. Thank you to my friends and family who helped support me mentally and emotionally through this year of ups and downs. Thank you especially to Team Sea to See for the opportunity to be part of such an incredible history making endeavor. Hopefully we can continue the work we set out to do and help shrink that 70 percent joblessness rate among the blind and visually impaired community.
Thank you to my coach, Lesley Paterson, for pushing me to all new heights I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make. Also thank you for introducing me to Alan. Speaking of whom, thanks mate for not just being an awesome guide for our record setting performance in Arizona, but thanks for becoming such a good friend. Can’t wait to race with you again—or drink a beer or share a glass of scotch, or a dish of creme brule.
Thank you also to my sponsors and supporters who made it possible for me to turn this triathlon and adventure seeking lifestyle into a career.
And, last but certainly not least, thank you to all of you in the #eyeronvision community! You all have been with me cheering me on and supporting me from afar. Your energy and support is much needed and appreciated. Thank you for following me on social media, reading my newsletters and for just being awesome 🙂
Now our attention turns to 2019. I’m excited for this new year and the opportunities it’s going to bring. In 2018 I was able to keep an “eye on my vision” of raising the bar in the blind and visually impaired athletic community and I think we made strides in making people aware of the athletic and professional capabilities of the blind and visually impaired. In 2019 I’ll continue to push myself to get better and grow more as an athlete, professional and overall person.
Remember everyone, no matter the circumstance, that your attitude will determine your altitude and always keep an “eye on your vision!” See you in 2019!