Trail Swag Interview with Blind Runner Rhonda-Marie Avery

I had the opportunity to sit down with Peterborough runner Rhonda-Marie Avery who just completed 365 Days of Running.

Rhonda-Marie was just finishing up her studies to become a Massage Therapist when she was sparked to attempt 365 Days of Running. This was an idea that she had read from Tim Cigelske and someone said that "she couldn't do it", which spurred her to give it her best. That wasn't enough, she also decided to take it one step further and attempt to run 2011KM in 2011.

In our eyes, we have photoreceptor cells known as Rods and Cones to help us see. Rhonda-Marie only has rods, which means she only has 8% vision (below the legal limit to allow you to drive) which can change depending on the environment she is in. She has to rely on night-vision and also can't see colour.

The 365 Day Challenge was indeed a challenge because as Rhonda-Marie put it, "Life doesn't stop because you have a goal in mind". Whether it be having to write a paper for an academic journal, dealing with her son's chicken pox or studying for her exams, the challenge made her life slightly "complicated".

Rhonda-Marie found a guide to help her run through a website called Achilles Canada. Achilles Canada welcomes people with all disabilities such as visual impairments, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or amputation and matches you with someone that can help you at your ability level. She was surprised at the number of volunteers in the Peterborough area (one of the largest number in Canada) and the community within that. They have all been very helpful including moments such as "Stop or you'll hit that tree", or "Jump now" to avoid a dead raccoon. Twitter has also been a help when connecting with people locally.

She considers herself a "persistent soul", but her perseverance also brought her to new heights when someone else said "I bet you couldn't do a triathlon". She found it frightening, and encountered unexpected problems like not being able to wear her sunglasses while swimming, or discovering how long the tether should be with your guide. Even these issues weren't enough to derail her from her goal and she finished.

Her husband and three kids have been with her throughout the journey but more so they enjoyed every 25th day of the challenge. Every 25 days is known as "cake day", a chance to reward herself, and thank her family for tolerating her endeavor. "Thanks for putting up with Mom".

365 Days of Running wrapped up with the Resolution Run on December 31st held by the Peterborough Running Room, and it also took a full year for her to reach the total of 2011 KM.

Now that she has achieved her goals, she hasn't decided what to do in 2012 just yet. She still runs at least one kilometer each day (until she makes up her mind of what to do next) and discovered interesting things about running for an entire year (such as her thighs growing 2.5 inches a piece since the beginning and that she ended up at the exact same weight as she started out as).

To learn more about Rhonda-Marie Avery, visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.