All In for the Win

All in for the Win


Jessica Beecham

I am not an elite Paralympic athlete bringing home golds for Team USA. I do not have the natural athletic prowess that a gifted few can cultivate to become the best of the best. It does not bother me at all that I am not likely to win lots of races, take the medal stand, or win big prize money. While I am sure the energy and rush that one feels after winning big is amazing. There is a great deal of pleasure to be taken from the competition with oneself, or as I like to call it the competition of one.

Every time I lace up my running shoes for a race, I have a goal in mind. Maybe I want to run faster than I did last time I ran the same distance, or stay in a certain pace range on a particularly difficult course. Sometimes, if I am healing from an illness or injury I just want to get out there and feel really strong throughout the entire race. In my competition of one I set the bar and push myself hard to achieve the outcome I want. I take great joy in the feeling of sweat dripping, heavy breathing, and the expected pain of pushing it to the limit. I relish in sore muscles that remind me that I gave it my all. I am an athlete. I am no less of an athlete than the big winners. I train, I perform, and sometimes I win, even if it is just in the competition of one.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I had the pleasure of running a half marathon with Mark Lucas, Executive Director of United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) as my guide. USABA helps people who are blind and visually impaired find the tools, opportunities, confidence, and motivation to participate in sport and excel in elite athletic competition. Mark and I have the pleasure of working together on a

 collaboration between USABA and WE Fit Wellness. We work diligently to help blind and visually impaired individuals move toward a healthier lifestyle regardless of where they fall on the health and wellness continuum. Mark has had the pleasure of working with many elite athletes over the years. I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this running experience would not measure up to others in his past.

On race morning we met to pick up our numbers. People were bustling around, a marching band was blaring, and the energy was phenomenal. I shared my race goals with Mark so that he would know the type of pace I was shooting for. Then, he shared that this was his first race since 2014 when he became unable to run due to medical complications. His goal for the race was to qualify for the Pikes Peak Ascent. Mine was to beat my personal best half marathon time. We both knew that this race was going to be challenging due to icy course conditions but we agreed to give it our best and go for our personal wins!

We started out at a nice easy pace. The crowd was thick and it was tough for us to pass people so we were content to hang back a bit. As we approached mile 3 we started picking up the pace while still keeping it nice and easy. We had the tunes going on Pandora, the sun was shining bright and even though the air was brisk, it was an absolutely beautiful day. It felt good to be out of the thickest part of the crowd. It was clear that we were both having strong running days. We hung in at a steady pace until we reached the turnaround between mile 6 and 7. At that point we decided to pick it up! We started steadily increasing our pace each mile until we were at our desired pace. By mile 12 we were both pretty sure we were going to meet our goals and achieve our personal wins so we kicked it into high gear for a strong finish! We were both thrilled with an amazing race and personal achievements. Shortly after finishing, we found out that CEO of WE Fit Wellness, Kevan Worley took a minute off of his best 5k time, yet another win for the team!

Mark, Kevan and I did not win the race time wise, we did not win our age groups, but each of us set the bar high, pushed hard, and achieved our own personal wins! This was a beautiful example of the mission of both USABA and WE Fit Wellness. Whether we are just starting our journey toward health and wellness or are elite athletes we can all work to improve ourselves and find success in healthy living. Everyone’s definition of success looks different and that is okay. If we set goals, work hard, and push ourselves EVERYONE can win!

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