Every time the race Tri for Joe happens, I come out of the race with mixed emotions.  I love the race, I love the day, I love the fact that it is over.  But, every year I come out with a lesson learned, a new inspiration, a new reason that my excuses to not workout should fall on deaf ears.  This year is no different, I met a new exercise muse, a new reason to kick my own rear end a new reason to get moving.

Tri for Joe (www.triforjoe.com) is a multi-sport event held every year to honor my nephew Joe and to make money for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.  This was it’s sixth year.  Every year we have an adult with Down syndrome (yes, this is correct it isn’t Downs it is Down and the syndrome has a lower case s…oh and you always put the individual before the disability…oh ok..off my soap box).  This young man swims the swim portion of the tri…this year the water was under 70 degrees so this is a HUGE undertaking because it is super cold.  I am always amazed that he finishes and since I have done the entire tri one time; I will say that the swim sucks…there is no other word for it and is a miserable time if the water is that cold.  This year we also had a participant in a wheelchair…this is the second time we have had a participant who was an athlete in a wheelchair.  His name was Jason.


Jason pulled up to registration and signed in and because I am a physical therapist I asked him when he lost the use of his legs.  He was so very nice and answered all of my questions.  He had a t-10 spinal cord injury which left him without the use of his legs…he quirked it would be a good thing for the swim because he can’t feel them anyway.  His was in a motorcycle accident 10 yrs ago and this was his first triathlon.  I briefed him about the course; the corners are a bit tight and can get crowded especially on the “run” portion.  We discussed how he was going to get into and out of of the pool.  After talking a bit, talking to the race director and talking to Joe’s dad  about where Jason would start how we would handle into and out of the pool etc…we went into the pool.  So, for those of you who are not swimmers…imagine having your legs drag behind you and have only upper body.  He had created his own system of keeping his legs floating and went into the water with Joe’s dad…the race had started. I don’t think Jason would mind me telling you how hard the swim was…it was cold…there are a bunch of people in the pool with you and often times you get caught in a current.  If you have four extremities it is probably ok…with two it is pretty hard.  At the end of the swim, he looked worn out but headed to the bike portion.  A hand bike…he rode the bike portion with his hands. I am thinking really, my upper body would be cooked and I would have given up by now.  Longer story short…he finished under his expected time.  But he gave me a great idea for a blog.

Each morning most of us get out of bed and take for granted that we can STAND UP.  We can WALK. We can get out of bed.  We can RUN.  We can be active without much restriction.  We may complain about a tight muscle, a sore knee, a crimp in our neck.  Each morning we all should be thankful for all that we had because a drive to work could take that away.  A drive to work could change it all.  Jason didn’t ask for what happened to him; it just did. But, he didn’thunker down and give up and sit in front of the television and quit.  He gave himself a goal and went for it and today he achieved it and told me when he was leaving that he was “hooked”.  Use what you have, do what you can do, think you have it bad realize that someone else has it worse and be the best you that you can be.  We all are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for…we just have to find the desire to get there.  Next time you don’t want to do cardio, think of Jason.  He would love to have run the race and biked with his legs.  He would love to hop on the StairMaster or the elliptical or take a walk or go for a run.  My next dreaded long run is dedicated to Jason and all of those who go way beyond what people think they can do and change the outlook for everyone with a disability.

Remember too this Memorial Day weekend the soldiers and servicemen who have lost their limbs or have had brain injuries and are enduring long ardeous hours of therapy to just be able to stand or to walk with a prosthetic limb.  Think of them and how they would love to be able to do 30 min of cardio without difficulty.

Remember to run your race.  No one else can run it for you.