Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 145 – Kyle Robidoux – Not an Inspiration

[00:00:00] I think the more in life that we can be put ourselves in uncomfortable situations because it’s in those moments in which we learn and there are some struggles in those moments. But at the end of at the end of that experience is when we have our most growth and when we learn right, if we’re not challenged, if we’re not uncomfortable, you’re kind of static. So I spend a lot of time trying to be comfortable being uncomfortable, whether it’s walking in the built environment and having frustrations using my white cane and being a new areas or trying to run a more difficult route than I haven’t run before.

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Jesse: [00:01:21] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today is an avid skier, runner, local beer enthusiast. He’s going to tell me about that because I’m not huge on beer, but I know beer and running kind of go together hand in hand. He’s also a non profit manager. You can find him on Instagram at Blind Beer Runner. Welcome to the show, Kyle Robidoux.

Kyle: [00:01:44] Hey, man, thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.

Jesse: [00:01:46] Absolutely. Thanks for hanging out with me this afternoon. I think it’s afternoon for both of us now. Yeah, because you’re you’re ahead of me time zone. So it’s definitely afternoon for both of us now.

Kyle: [00:01:56] Excellent.

Jesse: [00:01:58] It’s it’s always a nice way. Like, so the episodes come out on Friday, which is when I do the recordings as well. And fortunately, if you’re listening, this isn’t live, but I try to keep the experience kind of similar where it’s like it’s just a nice way to kick off the weekend, just hang out and have a nice conversation and then head into relaxation for the weekend. So I hope that’s the case for you. You don’t have too many like work or stressful things to do after this.

Kyle: [00:02:25] No. I am actually going to meet a friend at a brewery and then getting in some long runs the last weekend of long runs this weekend. So looking forward to that.

Jesse: [00:02:35] So you have a you have a race coming up?

Kyle: [00:02:37] Yeah, I’m running the Boston Marathon in about two weeks, I think April 18th.

Jesse: [00:02:42] That gives you like how under a rock I am right now that I didn’t really realize Boston was coming up. So I apparently need to take a peek out from underneath my rock every once in a while.

Kyle: [00:02:55] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:02:56] You see what’s going on in the wider world, especially with running. So apologies there.

Kyle: [00:03:00] No worries.

Jesse: [00:03:00] This is will be as a number eight. Number seven.

Kyle: [00:03:07] I am terrible with numbers. I think it is seven or eight right around there.

Jesse: [00:03:14] I was like I wanted to think that I’d seen you’d run at least six and then I started to guess I was like, Oh, is it you’ve done six completed anyway. You’ve done it a number of times. So for we should maybe back up a little bit. So for the listener who’s like, we don’t know anything about this guy aside from he likes to ski and he likes beer and running. Can you give me a little background on your story and give context to the listener? I guess who you are and what you do and maybe why you’re hanging out with me, I guess today, why I think you’re an interesting person to talk to.

Kyle: [00:03:49] Well, let others determine if I’m interesting, but but I appreciate it. I appreciate it. So, yeah, no, I live in Boston, grew up in Maine, grew up active, playing all types of ball sports and about for the past 10 to 12 years I’ve been actively running doing races. I love everything from 5ks to 100 milers.

I try to do more ultra and running on dirt than road races or road marathons. Actually, Boston is, for the most part, the only marathon I’m doing these days. And I grew up skiing and luckily I am still skiing. Try to get up 5 to 10 times every year and I have a 14 year old daughter and a wife and yeah, we live right in the middle of Boston and I currently work for the city of Boston in their Office of Housing Stability.

Jesse: [00:04:43] So. Everyone comes from a different background. I got into it when I was 12, you could say earlier, depending on whether you want to count like community sports as getting into running, so to speak. Obviously you’re running as you’re playing sports. Where does your running journey start? Did you start as a kid? Did you start later on? Like, how do you decide this is the thing I want to do?

Kyle: [00:05:10] So I ran for fitness in high school and getting ready for soccer or getting ready for baseball. But I didn’t really love it. But I did it, you know, to prepare. And then when I was probably in my twenties, I ran irregularly for a little bit. And then, to be honest with you, I kind of subconsciously convinced myself that I couldn’t run outside anymore because I realized I also forget to mention which is a good or a bad thing. I am legally blind, so I identify as visually impaired as well. So as my eyesight was decreasing, I think I convinced myself that I could no longer run outside safely.

[00:05:46] So I spent a number of years, probably 8 to 10 years, really not being active outside, except for skiing 2 to 3 times a year. And then with a goal of losing weight and dropping all of my health markers, I was on the path to type two diabetes. My cholesterol was through the roof. As someone who was 30 years old, I knew I needed a lifestyle change. So I started walking and then running for a few minutes and then it kind of took off from there. And now I run for a little bit more than just a few minutes.

Jesse: [00:06:18] Yeah, yeah. I mean, I would say it ultra lasts a little bit more than a few minutes. So, you know, it’s it’s a curiosity. I, I try not to be disrespectful or pedantic, I guess. But it, you know, depending on the race, sometimes in my career, I’ve seen visually impaired athletes. They’ll have a guide with you to help you out. The thing that always, I’ll say kills me. But I mean, I mean that in an endearing way is like seeing visually impaired athletes do triathlons.

Because I did that for almost a decade, because the swim is nonsense for somebody who’s not visually impaired like you, you can only see every time you pop your head up. Anyway, it just seems like absolute chaos if if you’re relying on somebody to help guide you through that. So can you give, you know, is there a way to kind of give me a sense of what it’s like or how that relationship works? Like, do you have is it like, hey, I mean, you’re hanging out and you’re like, I’d like you to be my pacer. And we hang out for months training together, or do you pair it up at the starting line? Like, how has that relationship developed? How is it? How do you navigate? I guess.

Kyle: [00:07:43] So I think all of the above in a sense. I mean, it could play out different ways. But I also just wanted to address you made a great point around the swim part of the triathlon, and I’ve never done a triathlon, although I bike and I ride.

[00:07:56] But what I find. Is that that that similarity between the experience of the swim, right? Is also the experience in the similarity that I’m trying to capture while trail running. And I’ll be very honest with you as well. Like, I have emotions and some feelings that I’m trying to work through when people run by me and say, Oh, you’re so inspirational because my response is you’re doing the exact same thing that I’m doing right now. In fact, in fact, you’re actually passing me, right? Or lapping me or maybe I’m passing you, whatever it may be.

[00:08:27] But it’s that shared experience that we’re doing things together that I really try to hone in on and focus on. And just because I love being out in the woods and let’s do those things more so than, Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re blind in doing this, right? They’re both challenging because whether you’re doing a swim in an Ironman or a sprint triathlon or you’re running a trail in a 5k or a hundred mile race, those are challenging things, regardless of vision or not. So I try to focus on that as much as possible.

[00:08:54] And then the relationship with guides, I have met some guides literally at the race start. Maybe we have a phone conversation beforehand. I tell them my preferences and we just jump in and go for it. And then I have a cadre of guides in Boston that I’m eternally grateful for. They do all my long runs and my short runs, so I probably have a group right now of about 6 to 8 guides that I cycle through, and I try to cultivate relationships with some of those guides. I may run races with, some I may not, and then some races I may run with someone once or twice, and then we’ll hop into a race.

[00:09:32] In fact, I am I have the opportunity and really great pleasure to run Boston this year with Tina Muir, who has guided before, including at the California International Marathon. But she and I have never run together. We’ve obviously spoken a ton over the phone, but when we toe the line at the Boston Marathon in a couple of weeks, that will be the first time that she and I are running together.

Jesse: [00:09:56] But so as somebody who. I, you know, I’ve been around running for 20 plus years now. I feel like historically I’ve got a pretty good sense of pacing, but I also have my own particular preference there. Some people want to go out hard and then slow down. I mean, are you able to put in that kind of info when you’re like, Oh, I want a negative split or No, I want a positive slip. Like, I really want to go out hard and then just fade up. Like, do you get to give your kind of pacing preferences to your guides?

Kyle: [00:10:32] I do. And we encourage other runners to do that because that’s one of the really important pieces of communication, is that what pace do I want to run at? What’s my effort level? In an ideal world, the guide, which is different from a pacer, I’ve had both at the same time for longer trail races, but for a guide, in an ideal world, they’re just sharing their sight to run with you.

[00:10:54] So that may be running, guiding you around people, over potholes, through aid stations, helping you get water, that sort of stuff. That may include keeping an eye, no pun intended, on your pace and dictating what that pace may be in terms of, oh, you just ran a 903 minute mile, whatever it may be, or we’re running this at, you know, in this point of time. But it really should be the actual pace should be driven by the runner who’s blind or visually impaired. I I’m a little particular about things. I actually tell my guides like, don’t coach me, don’t give me pep talks. Like, I really want you to be my guide and not my pacer.

[00:11:32] And except for during trail races, you know, the longer you run in a trail race, you are allowed to have a pacer. So if I just have a sighted guide and it’s after the time in which all the other runners can have pacers, I will communicate to my guide. I give you permission to also pace me. Right? So keep me motivated, keep me moving, be a little bit more proactive with my splits rather than just giving me information. But and I also will do the reverse. I’ll be like, Your goal today is just to guide me. I don’t want you to do anything else besides simply guiding me.

Jesse: [00:12:08] Yeah. And, you know, apologies for stepping over myself here. You know, I’m. I’m more than willing to make an ass on myself as long as you’re able to correct me —

Kyle: [00:12:20] Oh 100% Yeah. No, we always go out learn. We all learn. That’s what this is about, man.

Jesse: [00:12:23] Right. And so I think part of it’s just like because my, you know, my experience, like, it’s like it’s interesting when you know how you notice your own brain working. It’s like my experience with, like running with another person is that experience of pacing since I’m not visually impaired. So then it’s like I make that automatic assumption of, well, the person’s obviously going to pace you, right? That’s what they’re there for. It’s like, well, no, as you said, that’s not that’s not the role it can be, but it isn’t.

[00:12:53] And so along those lines of, like you mentioned earlier, say, somebody passing you or whatever and talking about you being an inspiration and working through that. You know, I’ve talked to a number of athletes on the show over the years with various, I’ll say, impairments, but I don’t know if that’s the word that’s a good encompassing word. Athletes missing limbs, visually impaired. And I don’t know that if any of them have said, I want to be an inspira, it’s like I feel like I’m an inspiration. I’m I think I struggle with. There’s obviously the cultural idea where it’s like we want like we want to hold Kyle up as an inspiration to everybody.

[00:13:45] Like, look what he’s doing. Because I think some of us go, I can’t imagine being strong enough to do that or whatever. But at the same time, like, as you mentioned, that’s not your internal experience. Right? And I feel like in it’s probably invalidating to be like, Kyle, let me tell you about you instead of allowing you to be who you are and then listening to who that is. So it’s like I struggle with, obviously, you’re here talking to me and we’re hopefully going to publicize the conversation. And I think it’s important to give impaired athletes a voice and an awareness.

But it’s like straddling that line between maybe it’s like between giving you a voice on a platform and making you into some kind of, like, iconoclast, where you’re just this image. You’re no longer a person. You’re just like a symbol. So. So I guess. How do you. Navigate that, because I’m sure you’ve encountered that a number of times, I’d guess.

Kyle: [00:15:00] Yeah. And I think you hit on a lot of the points, right? So it’s super nuanced and it’s never perfect in the way I internalize it and feel it is likely to be very different than some of my peers, although I’ve had similar conversations about the same notion around You’re inspiring. But I also am very honest in saying that I’ve benefited from that kind of that perception. Right? I’m on the show with you today and I have sponsors and things of that nature, so I’ve certainly benefited, but I’ve tried to use it as an educational opportunity as well.

[00:15:28] And it’s also some of the reasons why, you know, I have and these don’t need to be shared by others. But, you know, I try to identify as an athlete first, so person first language so an athlete first and then with my disability. So instead of a blind athlete, you know, I’m a runner who’s blind. And I also think that some folks would say to me that I’m not fully accepting of my vision loss up until the point in which I fully accept being, “an inspiration”.

[00:15:58] And I think there is some truth to that, that I’m not fully comfortable and accepting of my vision loss. I don’t know anyone who’s quite there yet, 100%. And the other piece that plays out in during races and so forth that I get frustrated about and I’ve gotten better about answering it. Sometimes I joke, to be honest with you and like my guide and I will count how many times, how many inspirations we get –.

Jesse: [00:16:20] Those are good deflections.

Kyle: [00:16:21] Yeah, actually I read this guy Vasu, who I may be pronouncing his wrong incorrectly, but he’s a sponsored skier with North Face. He’s above the knee amputee, complete badass skier. But he just did a the rut run which is incredibly like above treeline, incredibly difficult. And I think in his Instagram post he actually joked he counted like, oh, 105 inspirations. He actually did this race on crutches, which is just amazing. But anyways, I really want people, what I get frustrated about is like I want people to appreciate and acknowledge what I’m doing in the work that I put into it the training, the mental fortitude, the physical aptitude I want people to appreciate and be, and if they’re going to be inspired, be inspired by that and not because of my vision. 

[00:17:12] Because what happens is when people are running by me and say, you’re so inspiring, they don’t know me. What they know is that I’m blind or visually impaired, and I get frustrated that no one should be judging me based on that. They should be judging me on all, you know, all encompassing kind of what goes into doing what we do, whether it’s running or cycling or you’re a great student or a successful CEO. Right? There’s a lot of hard work that goes into that.

[00:17:40] So I want people to appreciate and acknowledge that piece of it and then add on if they want to the vision loss piece. And it’s also why I still have feelings around wearing like a blind bib. I’ve grown to understand that during races, particularly trail races, it’s very helpful to have like a bib on my back because if someone comes up behind me, they know to kind of give that, they may need to wait a minute for me to pull over or pass them and just provides a little bit more awareness. But I do at times feel like I have this huge target on me that it just it’s outing myself wherever I am.

[00:18:15] And now I’m actually at a point where I do all my training runs with a visually impaired bib. I started during COVID just to help get help, encourage people to move out of my way or my guide’s way. And it is really helpful, but it’s taken a bit of time to be comfortable because sometimes I just want to be that runner who’s out there enjoying the strides and the conversation with my guide and not have the attention of the bib or the visually impaired bib.

Jesse: [00:18:43] You know, I. I wonder whether. It’s — I always I always struggle to get my thoughts together. So anytime for you, the listener, thanks for listening to multiple episodes if you have, because I always go up just as my brain tries to turn over these things because we don’t we don’t prepare this conversation before we have it. I think about like. Obviously, we we go back to this idea that we here as children like don’t judge a book by its cover. But that’s kind of how we’re built. I think the saying is there because we have such a tendency, whether it’s cultural, whether it’s innate. I couldn’t tell you.

[00:19:33] But there’s such a strong tendency for us to do that, that we we have this saying. And I wonder. I wonder if it’s possible to make it easier to get past that point. I guess I think about. Think about a more abstract example. Like I know many people, at least in North America, struggle to have friends as adults, right? It’s hard to make deep connections with people in general, let alone as an adult when you’re everybody’s busy. How do you meet people? All those kinds of things.

[00:20:16] And that is as we back up my point of bringing that up, is it — it’s hard to get past the nice pleasantries, the, you know, I don’t like Kyle. He’s got a beard. I don’t like beards or whatever. Like just the the superficial things too, down to like who’s Kyle is a person. So then you identify with in your case, he’s visually impaired, therefore inspiration or whatever label somebody wants to put on you. I. I wonder about. I don’t have a solution, obviously. I wonder about how do we get how do we get past that? So maybe to to a place or can we get past that more easily to a place where it’s like like, Kyle’s hanging out, doing his doing his long run. Like, we’re not even concerned about that he’s visually impaired.

[00:21:16] Obviously, the practical considerations of having a guide and all those things. But other than that, it’s just cool you want to go out for ten mile or this weekend or, you know, I don’t know. I’m just chewing on it. I don’t know that I have a question or a solution. Just looking for your thoughts, I guess.

Kyle: [00:21:36] Yeah. And one thing I really want to underscore is that I know that all those comments that are made to me are altruistic and well, well intentioned. Right? And sometimes it is me. It’s me and my own head that I get angry about it. So I fully accept that piece of it. It’s interesting that you mentioned like kids and don’t judge a book by its cover because one of the things and I don’t get sad much around like my vision loss, but I was walking home the other day and I think I posted this on social media maybe. But, you know, I walked by a kid who’s probably seven or eight and I had my white cane out.

[00:22:11] And as we passed, the kids said, I think it was his father or parent who is like, oh my God, that guy is blind. That’s so sad. And at first I was like, kudos for your empathy, right? I don’t think I was that empathetic in Aware at that age. So I appreciate that. But then I if I didn’t think it would be so weird and like stranger danger, I wanted to stop and be like, no, it’s it’s not sad. Don’t be sad for me because this is what I do. This is who I am. Right? And. I think that that’s the reframing that I really want to get to. Right? Is that, yes, I may have different eyesight and vision and that may provide some limitations, but not really many. Right? 

[00:22:58] You just need to adapt and we need to be quick to adapt and pivot to continue to do what we love. And it’s not a sad thing. It’s just something you have to adjust to. While that being said, sure, we we may need a little bit more support and encouragement or adapt patients or accommodations, but that’s just part of building a good environment and a good community.

Jesse: [00:23:24] As you’re talking about that it makes you wonder about — So I believe, rightly or wrongly, that humans are vastly adaptable or adaptable to all kinds of different situations. I wonder. If we — so your impairment is obviously outwardly visible, very easy to recognize for other people, especially if you’re wearing a visually impaired bib. Like, as you mentioned, it’s like a target on your back, you know what I mean? It’s there automatically.

Kyle: [00:24:03] It’s hard to get around it.

Jesse: [00:24:04] Right. But — coming back to my previous thought, thinking about how do we get past that? Maybe if we think about. As you mentioned, having some of that empathy that that kid has, but then going further and understanding that like. Each of us has a different human experience, visually impaired or not. We each live a different experience of humanity, and it isn’t always as overtly obvious as wearing a visually impaired bib. But we each come to this place of. We’re part of human culture from a different perspective. So I wonder if maybe. By adopting that kind of idea that the that the differentness maybe of people saying, oh, you’re visually impaired, therefore you’re other inspiring, whatever, maybe that begins to fade away.

Kyle: [00:25:15] I think there’s a lot of truth to that. And I think part of it is based on. Just the awareness pieces of it and the conversations and awareness and awareness around what everyone can do. And sometimes that doesn’t tell what we can’t do, right, just in terms of life in general. So, yeah, I think there’s there’s a piece of that. There’s also a piece of really in I don’t know how to say it without using the word normal, but like normalizing, you know, where we’re all at and also recognizing that we’re in pretty weird times. Right?

[00:25:48] So even though I may be moving around with my white cane, I spent the first month and a half in my new job on Zoom, so people had no idea. Partly because I wear glasses and I can make eye contact still for for the most part. So some of my coworkers had absolutely no idea, you know, until we either returned in person or then, you know, which prompted me then to send out an email and be like, Hey, FYI, like, if I run you over in the hallway, this is why. And I had so many people that replied back. It was like, Wow, thank you so much for sharing that. We had no idea. And I was like, which kind of made me happy that I was able to participate in these meetings and be onboarded in a, in a weird sense, without that knowledge and awareness. Right?

[00:26:36] And then kind of slowly introduce the fact that I have really terrible vision. And I think that’s part of what we’re all trying to kind of aim for. Right. Is is the peace around building awareness, taking away the judgment side of it, and then just making it part of the everyday life, which is also what I’m trying to do with the running. Right? The more the reason why I’m doing so much advocacy and work around inclusion is that I just tired of being the only person who’s buying that a race, right?

I want my peers out there enjoying what I’m doing and I know that the more folks who are out on course doing what I’m doing is going to bring that sense of, you know, and again, I hate like the normalcy to it. Right. And I see it skiing. I ski with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, which is a wonderful adaptive ski program. And just by the sheer number of athletes who they engage and support and work with. It’s so much different being out on the hill skiing with someone in a ski or without rigors. And then here’s me with my guide. And it’s just it’s what we do right versus when I trail run. Often it’s really just me.

Jesse: [00:27:51] Skiing to me seems dangerous in general.

Kyle: [00:27:59] It can be.

Jesse: [00:28:00] I think that’s I think that comes from a place of I haven’t ever skied. I live in the Midwest, so we get snow, but I don’t live in Colorado. Thus, there’s no really good ski or snowboard venues here. So maybe it’s just an unfamiliarity, but I just go like. It’s it seems dangerous to anybody, let alone to like. So so this is again, it comes from a place of curiosity, not trying to be an ass. It’s just like how how does the when you’re skiing.

My perception is that there’s a certain amount of momentum which you have, whether you want or not, because you’re going down a hill. So so how does the guide relationship work in in that setup? Like when you’re running, obviously you’re dictating the pace, but I don’t know anything about skiing, so I don’t I feel like you’d have a little less control dictating pace or how you’re moving in relation to the Hill.

Kyle: [00:28:56] Definitely. No, it’s it’s a great question. And I also should state that just for the listeners that so my I have usable vision, I’m not totally blind. Only 5% of folks who are blind have absolutely no vision at all. And I have about 20-40 to 20-60 corrected vision. So I wear glasses and I have a really, really extreme tunnel vision. So I see my field right now is about 2 to 3% as of last month. So it’s similar to looking through a paper towel roll and it’s actually getting smaller and smaller. So I do have the ability to kind of to to to spot ski. So I ski directly behind my guide and I still have the ability to follow their ski.

[00:29:37] So I look at the back of their skis and because I’ve been skiing almost now my well since I was 11, I’m aware enough to know kind of what we’re going over and what speeds were going. I can tell when they’re slowing down or when they’re stopping and everything is done. And, you know, they’re looking over their shoulder to make sure that I’m close to them and it’s never a perfect system.

And then also some programs that I ski was also have headsets, which is amazing because then I can communicate to them slow down or speed up or I’m right behind you, or they can say, Hey, we’re coming up on someone on our left. Stay really tight to me. Don’t wander a little bit. Make sure you’re right behind me. So the headsets are really great. I spent most of winter, actually. I don’t think I skied with a headset at all this winter, but so that’s for someone like me.

[00:30:26] Whereas someone who may be totally blind with a different skiing ability, their guide will ski behind them and they’ll essentially call out turns. So they’ll be like, left, hold, hold, hold, hold right, hold, hold, hold, turn left, hold, hold, hold, hold, hold, hold, turn right. And then they’re keeping an eye on everything that’s around them. And I’ll say they’re going, I don’t say slow in a bad way, but, you know, they’re traversing the mountain probably a little bit more than than I may be.

[00:30:52] So and it’s yeah, it’s dangerous. I mean, I don’t care about myself and I don’t say that like a sadist, but, you know, if I fall or I hit something, that’s fine, that’s on me. But I do get really concerned skiing, particularly because I, you know, I, I’m a good skier. And so I get really nervous about hitting someone else. And that’s that’s different than, you know, if you’re running and you fall running, I’m only going to injure myself. Right? I’m going to trip and cut out my knee or bang my shoulder or whatever.

[00:31:19] But I get I do get concerned skiing, you know, with hitting someone else because it’s never perfect, you know, the guiding and people are unpredictable with their turns. So and I ski much differently. I actually tell my guides, like when we’re standing at the top of the trail, I’m like, Oh, to the extent possible. Can you tell me like, are there other people on this trail? You know? And I feel a lot more comfortable letting it rip on a trail where there’s no one around versus others around, because I do have that. I’m a pretty cautious skier in that way.

Jesse: [00:31:49] Yeah. I mean, as I mentioned, I’ve never done skiing, but due to the unpredictability of people. Like, even so, I ran in college, I went cross-country and ran track. There is an etiquette to track where basically you give the right away to the fastest person on the track. So if you’re getting lapped, you move to the outside lane, not to you don’t have to go to the far outside. But if you’re in lane one, move out to lane two, you let the person pass. But the general public doesn’t know this.

[00:32:23] So if you’re on a track and you’re trying to do a workout and you’re the fastest person there and somebody else is in lane one, they don’t care like some. And there’s an unpredictability just in that like. Not potentially dangerous environment where it’s like. I don’t know whether to go around them. I don’t know whether to call out to them and ask them to move. I don’t know whether they’re going to go left or right.

[00:32:48] So it seems like like skiing when you’re adding the speed and I’ll call it instability of being on snow. It seems like you’re you’re upping the the danger level when you’ve got people that, you know, I assume there’s some kind of ski etiquette probably for passing that I’m not aware of. Maybe there’s not, but — When you don’t have people who have like spatial awareness, which seems especially bad right now, post all say post COVID, obviously it’s more complicated than that. But just, as people get out more and more now, I feel like I go to the store and people just have no spatial awareness even in the grocery store. And I mean, have you experienced I I’m going off on a tangent, but have you experienced that on the on or off the slopes, I guess?

Kyle: [00:33:39] Yes. I mean, in terms of skiing all the time and we joke all the time that my guides wear bibs. I wear bibs. And sometimes that attracts people, right? Because you always follow where your eyes go, whether you’re running or skiing. So people look at the orange bibs and then all of a sudden we’re like, You’re getting closer move. You know, they’re like, ooh, they like they gravitate towards you. And it’s also why I tend to spend I enjoy and feel more comfortable skiing, more challenging trails and terrain, because for the most part, skiers are more predictable with their turns and everyone is, for the most part, heading down the mountain. Whereas –. 

Jesse: [00:34:14] That makes sense.

Kyle: [00:34:15] On beginner trails, you know, it’s you’re doing big sweeping back and forth turns or if you turn one way stronger than the other, you know, that’s always going to be your most consistent turn, which then means the other side is super inconsistent. So it’s really unpredictable. And it’s also why, in terms of guides, I have some amazing, amazing, talented, fit superstar running guides, but for guiding running for the most part, you just need to be able to run slightly faster than me and have good communication and I can train you.

[00:34:46] But for ski guides, you don’t only have to be a super talented skier, but you have to be trained on trail awareness. So how do you merge trails? What’s the technique to make sure that you’re moving onto a trail that’s merging in a safe way? So how do you look uphill? How do you predict? And then that other piece around, to the extent possible, the awareness of how to predict turns and how to move me. And I can tell if I’m skiing right behind a guide. And there, you know, we’re banging out some really consistent turns. And then there’s one turn that holds a little bit longer. I kind of know that, Oh, they must be trying to get around someone. So there’s a lot of awareness and training that goes into being a ski guide in addition to being a rock solid guide.

Jesse: [00:35:33] Kyle, I don’t want to run in too much over for your next appointment. So I have a question I’m asking all my guests each season. I ask a singular question to every single guest that changes every year. This year I’m asking you this question because people don’t know how to answer it. Number one, because people don’t do it enough. So I’m putting everybody on the spot. Partially, it’s because I know I don’t do it enough. I had a friend suggest this to me because she’s big on this. So I’m asking everybody, how do you celebrate your wins?

Kyle: [00:36:10] Great question. I have been focusing a lot of my energy at work, working with our team here and identifying and celebrating our wins. So I am probably a negative person in general, so I really overfocus on those wins. So after every long run you look at your watch and your first reaction is like, Oh, I ran a little bit slower than I really wanted to. So I do. I did it this past weekend like I ran 20 miles, last six miles. I was spent, but I spent some time. When I sat down on the couch, I go home and like, man, I just banged out the third weekend in a row of higher mileage than the previous weekend.

[00:36:47] So I try to pause for those things and I also we get caught up in a lot of things, right, is family, running, social life, whatever it may be, work, obviously. So I also try to be really intentional about that. I get into work really early most days, partly because I like to sit in the quiet with no one around, get out some emails. But then I just do prepare and think about the previous day and what I accomplished and then start planning for that day or that next week. So I think it takes discipline and intentionality, but it’s super important.

Jesse: [00:37:24] Normally this would be the last thing. But I do want to give you a chance to kind of some things upside. As we’re talking about earlier, thinking about awareness. If you want to distill what you’d like people to know down to not necessarily like a pithy quote, but just, you know, your most important point of advocacy. What would you want to say, I guess?

Kyle: [00:37:57] I was going to be silly and say drink beer. But I mean, I think the more in life that we can be put ourselves in uncomfortable situations because it’s in those moments in which we learn. And there are some struggles in those moments, but at the end of the at the end of that experience is when we have our most growth and when we learn right, if we’re not challenged, if we’re not uncomfortable, you’re kind of static.

So I spend a lot of time trying to be comfortable being uncomfortable, whether it’s walking in the built environment and having frustrations using my white cane and being a new areas or trying to run a more difficult route than I haven’t run before or taking on a new project at work.

[00:38:37] I think it’s always really trying to put yourself in that situation in which you’re making yourself uncomfortable, because that’s like I said, that’s when we learn and that’s when we grow and and keep on learning in the awareness piece of it, you know, and meet new people, meet people who don’t look like you, whether it’s race or ethnicity or gender or disability.

[00:38:58] Get out outside of your comfort zone and kind of your usual suspects and try to engage and interact with others. And then if individuals are interested in being a guide, there’s a pretty cool website called unitedinstride.com that can help match individuals with guides. My guide that I’m running Boston with is actually from Saint Louis, and that’s how she first, I think, learned about guiding as well. And athletes of all abilities, pace, distance can be guides for a mile, for five miles, for 30 miles in a 100 mile race. So people and it makes guiding makes running skiing a team sport and it’s already doing something you love to do. So it’s a great way to volunteer as well.

Jesse: [00:39:46] Kyle, if people want to check out what you’re up to. Get in touch. Any of that kind of stuff. Where can they find you?

Kyle: [00:39:52] Yeah. So my I have a personal website that I use for public speaking and so forth and that’s just Kylerobidoux.com and then Twitter is KyleRrobidoux and Instagram is BlindBeerRunner.

Jesse: [00:40:07] Kyle, thanks for hanging out with me today.

Kyle: [00:40:09] Yeah, for sure, man. Thanks for doing what you’re doing and thanks for inviting me on and having this important conversation. It was fun.

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