When runners hang out they inevitably talk about the activity they have in common. Typical topics include: the races they've signed up for this season, the splits they hit in last night's speed workout, what they ate before a long run for an energy boost, the backordered sneakers they found online, and what's hurting today. (I think I've covered most of that on my blog recently.) But a conversation I had yesterday with Nick Roumonada was different. We had more than just a shared love of running and the upcoming Boston Marathon to discuss. Nick and I also both support Achilles International.
Achilles International is an organization on a mission to enable people with disabilities to participate in mainstream athletic events. If you've ever gone for a run in New York City's Central Park on a Saturday morning, you've seen blind runners tethered to volunteers like me jogging around the 6-mile loop and amputees in hand cycles battling up Harlem Hill. They're inspiring sights. But even more inspiring is Nick's drive to run Boston for Achilles. He wants to raise awareness for the group and he wants to kick some butt. "If I can blaze past someone on the course and get them to think, ‘Wow, look what that guy can do,' then I'll have accomplished my marathon goal," says Nick. Oh, did I forget to mention this guy who ran his first marathon in 3:45 last year is missing a leg? (Here's Nick running the 2010 NYC Marathon with Achilles volunteer Rick Trojanowski.)
Nick, 33, lost the limb during a childhood bout of bacterial meningitis. But thanks to a high-tech prosthetic on the left and a Brooks shoe on the right, he discovered running. "Running allows me to wash away all of the negative stuff in my head," he says. "I come away from a long run feeling accomplished and positive again." Nick has a lot going on right now—he's a full-time student (hitting the books for a business degree), holds down a 9-to-5 at a finance company, and gives motivational talks—so he definitely needs that stress release.
Eventually our chat did come back around to the usual running stuff. We talked about the value of cross training on a bike, where we're doing our final long runs this weekend, and how we're both dealing with colds. (Stupid cough!) But it never seemed like he was whining or complaining. "We take what we are given and run with it," says Nick. I couldn't agree with him more. And I can't wait to give him a shout out when he passes me on the streets of Boston!
Want to get involved? Find out more about Achilles International and donate to Nick's efforts.
Why do you love running? What inspires you to get out there?