Learn Anything. Go Anywhere. Help Others.

3 month goals, wheelchairs and marathons

August 6, 2017

I had that feeling this morning, the one you associate with tying your shoes as the sun comes up and getting out the door before everyone else is awake, the dedication to something that sort of pulls you out of sleep and gets you warmed up until you’re running past the quiet meadows and birds and squirrels of the early morning before Brooklyn becomes bustling. It was my first run in a while, and in exactly three months, this morning’s run will have culminated in a full marathon.
Yesterday I sat on a step ladder inside of a room still wet with paint and talked to Alex about being a physical trainer at his new facility. His first location in Harlem was a huge success and has been a community installation for years now. He tells me I’ll learn everything I’ll need to know about working with the disabled population from the main trainer, Anthony, who has been there from the beginning. Anthony was the one that trained Alex after his accident – a deer-related car crash resulting in an injury to the spine at the C6 vertebrae.
Alex is a go-getter. After his accident he became a lawyer and eventually started “Wheeling Forward” with a man he right after his injury who also had a paralyzing spinal cord injury. This project was developed for an underserved community of disabled people. Here’s what it looked like to me – I watched the video Alex sent me when he got in touch with me and I saw people in wheelchairs doing arm-treadmills, boxing, yoga, lifiting weights. They looked the exact same, their determination and pride as other people do in the gym. Actually, they didn’t, they looked way happier because this was a rare opportunity for them. It had never occurred to me how difficult of a place a gym would be for a person in a chair.
“Most gyms are ADA accessible, but the whole time everyone around you is worried you’re gonna hurt yourself and is just waiting for you to finish. It’s not a very comfortable environment for a disabled person. Except for Yannick, whose arms are bigger than anyone else at the gym, he doesn’t mind it.” Yannick is Alex’s partner.
I’ll be starting here in a couple weeks as a trainer. I expect to be inspired, I expect to be grateful. The Grand Opening is in two weeks. During Alex and I’s interview he mentioned as an aside, “Do you do marathons?”
“I have.”
“Wanna do the New York City marathon?”
“Really? I mean, yeah.”
“Because we have a partnership with them, it would just require a little fundraising but if you wanted to do it, you could. It’s November 5th, I think.”
“Oh I don’t know. I am way out of shape that’s just three months away.”
He laughed and said, “yeah, kind of short notice.”
We moved on and talked work details. But when I left I kept thinking about it.
Yes, it’s possible, even though I’m hardly even in shape enough for a 10k right now. And then I thought of all the people I’ll be working with. I’ll be working with them on their goals. They’ll be working their asses off, some of them to do a marathon in a wheelchair and some of them just to be able to reach for something in front of them. How could I shy away from that. Realistically it’s just about 4-5 runs a weeks, in the morning, before my day starts. It is very do-able. I almost felt that I owed it to the people that I will be working with to take on challenges like this.
Good for me 3 months away is just enough time before the idea goes from bold to stupid. 1 month away would be injury and misery and frankly, 6 months away wouldn’t really excite me. 3 months away is perfect.
This morning I popped out of bed a minute before my alarm and went right to it. The first run in this 3 month challenge. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

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