Robert Houser, photographer, with Facing Light Foundation captured the beauty and spirit of many visually impaired/ blind athletes including our Achilles Nashville team while at the California International Marathon and the United States Association of Blind Athletes National Championships in Sacramento in December 2017.
The Facing Light Foundation is a non-profit foundation established to draw attention through photographs to the humanistic side of those facing some of life’s greatest challenges.
Facing Chemo was the first project of the Facing Light Foundation. The Foundation uses art as a medium to tell a story. The viewer is both moved and immersed in the experience.
“If an image can speak a thousand words, how does it feel to be in a room full of larger than life portraits of individuals, individuals with a story to tell?”
Visit his website for more on his projects and where his exhibits (e.g., “Facing Chemo” Facing Aging”) will be.
It was a fun project to be a part of and he captured our group beautifully!
September 2, 2020, Farm Burger Family, Fun, Fundraiser
September 12, 2020, 7th Annual Hope & Possibility®/ 1st VIRTUAL Nashville Hope & Possibility®
April 21, 2021 St Jude Rock & Roll
November 26, 2020 VIRTUAL Boulevard Bolt – Thanksgiving Day
Before the run:
Make sure to communicate with your athlete before the run begins. The two of you can discuss strategies for how to make the run go as smoothly as possible. Some things you can ask your athlete are:
During the run:
Make sure to encourage your athlete to do their best, but don’t push harder than they are able to go! Don’t set the pace unless they ask you to, run at your athlete’s natural pace.
After the run:
Help your athlete get water and snacks when they are available.
Talk to your athlete about how the run went, and if any changes would be helpful for next time. Make sure your athlete is safe before you leave (e.g., with group, at community center, has ride).
Below are levels of VI:
Class B1: No light perception in either eye, and inability to recognize the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction.
Class B2: From ability to recognize the shape of a hand up to visual acuity of 20/600 and/or a visual field of less than 5 degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction.
Class B3: From visual acuity above 20/600 and up to visual acuity of 20/200 and/or a visual field of less than 20 degrees and more than 5 degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction.
What does this mean for guiding?
Depending on your athlete’s level of vision, they may prefer different styles of guiding. Some athletes will want to use a tether, some will want to use an arm lock, and some may feel comfortable simply running beside you. Make sure to communicate with your athlete before your run, and ask them what their preferred style of guidance is.
General Tips for Guiding a VI/ Blind Athlete
For More Info Visit our Tips for Guiding a Visually Impaired (VI)/ Blind Athlete)
This category of disabilities includes athletes who are ambulatory (walks), but still have a physical disability that makes running on their own challenging. This may include any number of reasons, including a prosthetic limb, or difficulty with motor function that is aided by canes, crutches, or walkers.
It also includes those athletes who are not able to utilize their legs for running or walking due to a disability or condition such as, but not limited to spina bifida, spinal cord injury, or cerebral palsy. These athletes might choose to use a handcycle, a wheelchair (racing chair or regular manual chair), or an adapted trike for running.
General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with a Physical Disability:
A wheelchair is completely self-propelled by the user pushing forward on the wheels.
General tips for guiding a wheelchair athlete:
A handcycle is a three-wheeled cycle with gears that is propelled by the arms rather than the legs, often used by athletes who have more function in their arms than legs.
General tips for guiding a handcycle athlete
An intellectual disability is characterized by limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills.
General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with an Intellectual Disability
Hearing impairment, or hearing loss, occurs when you lose part or all of your ability to hear. Other terms that are used to refer to hearing impairment are deaf and hard of hearing. Hearing impairment can be classified as mild, moderate, severe or profound.
General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with a Hearing Impairment
A disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.
What does it mean for guiding?
Make sure to listen and communicate with your athlete about his or her needs while running. Make sure they are staying hydrated, and check in with them about how they are feeling. If your athlete is not feeling well, it’s better to cut the run short and get back to safety.
A respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing.
What does it mean for guiding?
Ask your athlete if they have an inhaler that they typically take on runs. Make sure to communicate with them about how they are feeling throughout the run, and adjust your paces as necessary.
If you’re running with a VI runner for the first time, you might feel a little nervous about the whole thing. That’s not unusual, and we want you to feel comfortable. You will be paired with a runner and their guide to gain an opportunity to see how guiding works. This is a good time to ask questions and take a short turn guiding while with an experienced guide.
It’s good practice to talk to the runner you will be guiding before you run together for the first time. This will give you and your VI running partner time to discuss strategies on how to make the run go as smooth as possible. Things to ask your athlete before you start:
How much do you usually run?
What is your regular pace?
What guiding method do you prefer (e.g., tether, hold elbow)?
Do you like to talk or listen to music when you run?
What side do you prefer to run on?
Can you please describe your loss of vision and how it affects running?
What cues (e.g., verbal, physical) and assistance work for you during a run?
Any special things I need to know?
It is generally helpful and appreciated by athletes when guides point out things of interest. Different athletes like different amounts of talk and information. Simply ask how much information is enough and how much is too much.
Regarding music, it is good practice if an athlete is listening to music to keep one ear bud out so they can hear directions and other environmental sounds. It is strongly discouraged for guides to wear earbuds as this distracts from their primary responsibility of keeping the athlete safe.
|Some common directional commands include:
Left/Right – When directional changes are neededCurb up/Curb down – When approaching curbsDuck – When athlete needs to duck down (e.g., low tree limb in path), let them know when they can safely resume upright posture also.Uneven ground –Give athlete warning when ground is uneven (e.g., road work causing bumpy roads)Speed humps – Give athlete advance warning for humps, bumps in the road
Tip: You can practice with other fellow guide runners by running blindfolded and allowing others to guide you. This will enable you to feel what it’s like running with little or no vision, and you can make the necessary adjustments when guiding a visually impaired runner. Keep in mind, however, that a runner with VI has skills and experiences related to their disability that you cannot begin to experience after a trial run blindfolded. They have more acute skills and are likely much more tuned into changes in surfaces, environmental sounds, the wind, words being said, and things around them in general. This practice might give you a little more awareness and sensitivity to what the VI runner experiences.
Train for the specific event for which you’re running; in other words practice goal pace and in an environment that is similar to the race. For training, keep the total distance covered shorter than the goal race, or run at your race pace in shorter segments with rest breaks (interval training).
To reduce injury, increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
Don’t eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.
Stick to what works for you.
Wait for about 1.5 – 2 hours after a meal before running to allow your food to properly digest. Some ideas for pre-run snacks/meals include oatmeal, peanut butter on bagel or toast, or carrots with hummus.
Dress for runs as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than it actually is. The table below gives a runner an idea of how to dress for different temperatures; windy days might require more clothing to stay warm.
|TEMP||WHAT TO WEAR|
|Above 70||Lightweight/light-colored Dri-fit singlet and running shorts|
|60 to 69||Tank top or Dri-fit singlet and running shorts|
|50 to 59||Dri-fit T-shirt (short or long sleeve) and running shorts|
|40 to 49||Long-sleeve Dri-fit shirt and running tights or shorts|
|30 to 39||Long-sleeve Dri-fit shirt and running tights|
|20 to 29||Two upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip) and cold weather running tights|
|10 to 19||Two upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip) and one/ two (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights) lower-body layers|
|0 to 9||Two/three upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip, running jacket), one/two lower-body layers (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights)|
|Below 0||Three upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit, half zip, running jacket), two lower-body layers (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights)|
Start every run with a warm-up (e.g., 5-10 minutes of walking or slow running), and do the same to cool down. Stopping too quickly can cause leg cramps, nausea, or dizziness.
For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet.
You should be able to talk in complete sentences while doing long runs. Talking should not be easy during hard runs or races.
Do your longest training runs at least 2 minutes per mile slower than your 5K race pace.
There are no drawbacks to running them slowly. Running them too fast, however, can compromise your recovery time and raise your injury risk.
Run slower on hot days.
Generally, the longer the race, the slower your pace, so your 10K will be slower than your 5k, your full marathon will be slower than your half.
Windy days will slow you down. A headwind always slows you down while a tailwind speeds you up. Monitor your effort, not your pace.
Run against traffic except when running into leftward blind curves where there’s a narrow shoulder or in construction area; bike with traffic.
Wear reflective gear (e.g. headlamps, reflective clothing, blinkie lights) pre-dawn, and after sunset and in foggy weather.
Build up to and run at least one 20 to 22-miler before a marathon.
Long runs are like the marathon, as they require lots of time on your feet.
Hilly runs to be slower than flat runs. Monitor effort not pace. Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up.
Take at least one easy day (e.g. short, slow run, cross-training day, no exercise) after every hard day (e.g. long run, tempo run, speed workout)
If you hurt for a couple of days, rest. If something hurts for a week or more, even if you’ve taken your rest days, see a doctor.
Your workout is not over when you stop your watch at the end of a run. Here are a few steps to help your body recover and prepare you for the next day’s workout.
For each mile that you race (full effort half or full marathon), allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing. If your race effort wasn’t all-out, taking fewer recovery days is okay.
Achilles guides serve as the athlete’s eyes, ears, guide, motivator, and most importantly…trusted running partner! Guides help to welcome Achilles athletes to the wonderful world of running, by promoting friendship, encouraging the athlete, helping them build self-confidence with running activities, & having fun!
When you ask a guide how they feel about guiding they generally always respond that they get back much more than they give.
Things to ask your athlete prior to guiding
Achilles athletes have a wide range of disabilities. It is critical that guides and athletes have good, open communication. When you are assigned to an Achilles athlete, don’t be afraid to ask the following:
What you will do as a guide
As an Achilles guide, you might do the following:
If anything else is needed or requested, bring it to the attention of your chapter leaders. (Note: Guides for travel races might have more responsibility, and these will be clearly outlined before trips).
Running with a visually impaired athlete
Running with a wheelchair or handcycle athlete
Team Achilles Apparel and Merchandise
Want to expand your Achilles Nashville wardrobe and support the Chapter? Click on the link below to see what’s available at the Achilles Nashville Apparel Shop. For every purchase made on this website, our chapter will receive 20% of the proceeds.
Also, be sure to check out the Achilles International Apparel Shop, which is different from our Nashville shop, by clicking the link below.
Chalk Talk Sports/ Gone for a Run hosts a beautifully designed club store with Achilles Nashville logo merchandise on dozens of unique and quality products. Achilles Nashville organization receives 15% of all club store sales! Visit http://www.goneforarun.com/achilles-international-nashville
February 16th– Hot Chocolate 5k/15k
February 23rd– Tom King Classic 5k/Half Marathon
TBD- Race Judicata
April 13th – Purity Moosic City DairyPure® Dash
April 27th– St. Jude’s Rock ‘N’ Roll, 5k/half/full marathon
July 4th– Firecracker 5k* Time: 7:00am
TBD– Bison Boogie 5K
TBD-Shelby Bottom Boogie
TBD– Hope & Possibility® Race
November 3rd– New York City Marathon*
November 28th (Thanksgiving)- Boulevard Bolt, 8:00am start time
December 1st– St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon Weekend 5k, 10k, half and full marathon
Athlete Stephanie Zundel
I am from New Jersey. I am in the Master’s program at Vanderbilt University. At the age of three, I went blind due to a severe allergic reaction to Children’s Motrin. I ended up getting a sickness called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). SJS is a condition where the immune system turns on itself and burns the body from the inside out. Although blindness can sometimes be a pain, it has not stopped me from anything I set my mind and heart to. Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved participating in sports and athletic activities. I have been doing boxing since I was ten years old. I have a junior and senior black belt in white tiger kempo. Running is something I got into pretty recently. During my sophomore year of college, my roommates signed up for the Country Music half marathon. I was not very good at running at all. I could barely run one mile, but I begrudgingly agreed. During my training, I met a friend at a convention I went to for the National Federation of the Blind and she told me about Achilles. I thought it sounded like an awesome organization, so I decided to join. Achilles is a running group for people with disabilities. Since then, I have done many races including 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, and half marathons. In November 2016, I ran my first marathon in New York City. It was thrilling to have the opportunity to run the New York marathon. I qualified for the Boston Marathon there and ran the Boston Marathon in April, 2017. Achilles has been such a huge part of my life. The volunteer guides don’t treat the athletes any differently because they have disabilities. The athletes also support the volunteer guides in return, helping guides new to running reach new goals and new distances. The community is extremely supportive, and the other athletes have been instrumental in inspiring me toward my running goals. My next big race is the California International Marathon in December in Sacramento.
Guide Amy Harris
Hello I’m Amy Harris, or A2 as I am often called at Achilles (Amy Saffell, one of our awesome athletes will always and forever be A1), also often known as Lizzy’s mom, or “Lizard” as she is affectionately called at Achilles. I’ve been guiding with Achilles for going on 6 years now, having begun shortly after Achilles began in 2012. What began as a way to share physical fitness and healthy activities with my daughter has turned in to a BIG part of my life, as I volunteered for years with Achilles before taking on the Assistant Director position at the beginning of 2017. Achilles for me is a great fit, a way to share my love of running with others, and it is so much more rewarding to me at this point in my running life to help others achieve their goals. Running is a gift that I can share with others and Achilles friends have become an extended family to me.
Guide Ed Sieffert
Ed started with Achilles over five years ago after seeing a sign at the McCabe Community Center. Knowing the greenway so well, he thought he could lend a hand to the new organization. He hasn’t looked back. He has a weekly figure for the training runs and loves helping out with Hope and Possibility. Being around all the guides and athletes even motivated him to run his first marathon. Ed’s favorite Achilles related memory was while traveling. He saw a young blind lady who had been left alone to fend for herself to get through security at the airport. All his Achilles experience gave him the confidence to help her through the process and see her on her way.
The California International Marathon (CIM) is certified and sanctioned by USATF and is a Boston Marathon and US Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier. The CIM is the United States Association of Blind Athletes National Marathon Championship. Approximately 50-60 visually impaired (VI) runners participate in this event. The course is a point-to-point, net downhill course, providing over 100,000 runners of all speeds–from first-timers to the fastest of the fast–the best chance to achieve their marathon goals. Course runs from Folsom Dam to the State Capitol in Sacramento.
It is through Richard Hunter, a blind athlete, that our Achilles group was invited to attend and participate in the CIM; a portion of our funding is through his efforts with the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Marathon Championship. Richard is the USABA Marathon National Championship Coordinator, founder of national program to pair VI runners with guides called United in Stride, and a friend of Achilles.
The CIM is a relay, athletes and their guides will be completing either leg 1 or 2 to complete half of the marathon, and one athlete will complete the entire marathon. Teams for the CIM can be seen below:
|Athletes / Guides (by teams & order for relay):
|Leg 1 (13.5 miles)||Leg 2 (12.7 miles)|
|Ricky Jones guided by Michael Pate (from Sacramento)||Christy Ray guided by Amy Harris
|Annie Donnell guided by Rachel Dillard||Theresa Khayyam guided by Lena Menkes|
|Chris Pennington guided by Kimi deMent||Dwaine Jones guided by Randy Hodge|
|Stephanie Zundel guided by Amy Harris||Stephanie Zundel guided by Ed Sieffert|