My best marathon! (Part 1)
Hi, my name is Jorge. I created BELIEVE&TRAIN a few years ago. Welcome to our official blog "One step at a time" with running experiences & cool stories to inspire and motivate everyone to get active, smile everyday and reach their dreams & goals no matter what!
I have been running marathons since 2009 as a promise that I made, specifically NYC Marathon every year, but that is a story for another time... As many of you know, running a marathon is not an easy task. You have to train for months, run lots of miles and be very consistent with training. Its a runner's dream. It is something that can't be accomplished by just signing up one day before the race. It is the type of race that not only requires physical training but, as its said, it is also run with the mind and the heart because the body usually wants to quit or stop after mile 20ish.
Usually a "best marathon story" is about how great your body felt running, how fast your pace was or how you achieved a PB (personal best) or PR (personal record) on the marathon. It includes information about how you checked your pace every step of the way, shared your bib number so friends & family would follow you, how you took gels & electrolytes to keep your strength, heard people cheer your name, shoot some selfies along the way, faced 'the wall' and kept running hard until the finish line.
Well, this is not one of those stories. But, believe me, it changed my life and the way I see marathons. It has been 'my best marathon'.
To run as a 'guide' - Discovering Achilles.
It all started on the summer of 2016. I was determined to run NYC Marathon for the 7th time. But that year, something changed. I had heard about Achilles International, an organization that "enables people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement."
While running marathons in the previous years, I had seen athletes with different disabilities, participating, giving their best effort and showing everyone else that nothing should stop anyone from reaching their dreams. Achilles' mission was completely aligned with my BELIEVE&TRAIN brand's mission (my mission). The idea of taking an active role and help an athlete who already 'believes' and 'trains' super hard, to reach his/her goals was just amazing! So after a bit or research, I applied to become a "guide" for an athlete with a disability. I responded the online questionnaire the best I could. I did not have high expectations since I was new to the 'guidance world' but I hoped for the best outcome. Experience in guiding? None... Experience with different disabilities? None... But my goal was set and I really wanted to do this.
A few weeks later I was informed that I was chosen to be an Achilles Guide for the NYC Marathon 2016. Wow! that was amazing. I did not know what to expect so I asked about the type of disability of the athlete I would guide. It seemed that there were high possibilities of being paired with a blind runner that would run a similar pace than mine so I could keep up. I had about three months to NYC Marathon to prepare and so, it was time to get ready.
Let's train for this.
Many questions popped into my mind. What am I getting into? Am I really qualified to guide someone? What if I can't keep up the pace? What does it mean to 'guide'? What will everyone expect from me? Will I be prepared for this challenge / responsibility?
Many unknowns, but the only clear fact was that I could not let down my athlete, so in order to run with a person who might run a 4:00 - 4:20 marathon, I had to train hard. It was not going to be an easy task. I did my usual training runs, but added more milage, more long runs, more speed training sessions. And many of these runs, with my running partner, Frida, my weimaraner dog that loves to run with me.
The first thing I learned is that being a "guide" means the other person will trust you and is confident that you can and will take him/her to the finish line no matter what.
Suddenly I got an email that changed everything. I was not guiding a blind runner, but instead I was going to guide Lorena, a girl from Venezuela who would participate in the pushrim wheelchair division. She needed Spanish speaking guides so I was chosen along with another runner, Jose.
Jose & I began emailing her to introduce ourselves, ask her about her predicted time and in general, just to know her better. She was from the town of Cumaná in Venezuela and although she had participated in other races (5k, 10k and a half marathon), it was going to be her first full marathon race. And she was targeting a 5 hour marathon. One more reason to guide her the best way possible.
Time to meet.
Finally it was time for the trip to NYC. As every year, I arrived to the Marathon Expo with a big smile, full of energy and high emotions. Looked for the Achilles booth to get my bib number and information, and I met there Russell Koplin, Achilles Event Volunteers Director. She received me with a warm smile and a hug, like we knew each other for years and I was part of a family, the Achilles family. After giving me a few tips on how to guide my athlete, I got my t-shirt and later that night, I went to the Achilles pre-race event where all the athletes and guides meet.
Meeting Lorena in person was great. To listen about her personal story, the accident in which she was involved many years ago, how that changed her life and how competing in a wheelchair was a very important part of her life now.
I also met all the other competitors from Venezuela, my co-guide José and many other amazing people. It was a night full of stories, hugs, and new friends. Lorena was recovering from many different injuries, she was not in her best shape but she had a great heart and positive attitude. She was determined to race and finish and we were going to be there for her. At that moment, it became clear, that the marathon ahead was going to be very challenging for all of us and a unique experience, without a doubt. We shared last minute tips and we went to bed early so we could meet on race day at around 4:30 am.
About the author:
Jorge Euran. I am an amateur runner, entrepreneur and father of two amazing children. My "BELIEVE&TRAIN" personal story began many years ago by taking running as my number #1 hobby. After 10 marathons (and counting), a few half-marathons and many other races, I strive to inspire people to be active, run, smile and enjoy life one step at a time!
About Achilles International.
The mission of Achilles International is to empower people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement.
Specialized programs include the Achilles Freedom Team which serves wounded military personnel and veterans; Achilles Kids which provides training, race opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities; the Achilles Para-triathlon Team which expands our running program into biking and swimming; Achilles Chapter workouts, plus our signature race Hope & Possibility which takes place in several cities worldwide.
Achilles International brings the largest field of athletes with disabilities (AWD) to the TCS NYC Marathon and is the recognized authority in shaping AWD divisions in marathons nationwide.