Blind Runner Prepares for First 10K at Heart and Sole

Some of the best things in life, are so easily taken for granted. Take your sight for example. It's one of those things that's incredibly precious, something you don't really notice, until it's gone.

Take Shannon Payne. As you can see, she's legally blind. Due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, she's been losing her sight since the age of 8. Believe it or not, she's preparing for her first 10K at the Heart and Sole.

"My right eye is almost gone," said Shannon. "Everything I do is from my left eye. And now it's causing static vision, so like the old days of TV static, or walking through a blizzard, I get that kind of vision now."

That's where Yellowstone Fitness comes in. For the last six years Shannon has worked with trainer Suzy Albano, who after finding out Shannon didn't have a partner to take part in the two mile walk, challenged her to take on the 10K with her. But despite every reason not to, what could possibly drive Shannon to want to compete in a 10K?

"My grandpa had a heart condition, and St. V's did a lot for him, and he passed away," said Shannon. "So I do it for him, and my health."

For both Shannon and Suzy, their training has been had a learning curve.

"She came in because she needed to work with someone as a personal trainer," said Albano. "So they assigned her to me. And I was like 'oh the blind person? Oh I don't know anything about that.' So I learned."

Over the years Suzy has learned man things to help Shannon on her journey, such as using this bright green mat so she can see where to throw the medicine ball. Or using this bright orange mat to give her something to do lunges towards. Even Suzy's shirt is designed to contrast just enough so she can guide Shannon from place to place. This regimen may look tough, but that's how Shannon gets through life, with a strict regimen.

"It's a lot of time management," said Shannon. "Really knowing the buses, the schedules, coordinating with my trainer. Time management is key when you have to rely on transportation. Especially in this town, because the buses stop running at 6:00."

That seems like an awful lot of work for a workout, but for Shannon, it's a necessity.

"I have a syndrome where I gain weight in the trunk," said Shannon. "So if I'm not active or eat right I'll gain a lot of weight, and I could become diabetic. It keeps me healthy, and I do my best, I struggle, but she keeps me grounded."

"It's amazing where she's come from when she started to what she does now," said Albano. "She's inspiring, she's really is inspiring. And I truly think I learn as much from here as she may have from me."

That learning hasn't stopped either. The Heart and Sole is Shannon's first 10K, and the challenges that will come with it will be as big of a learning lesson as the two have ever had together.

"Yeah I don't have any clue how to guide her down the street, I've never really done that before," said Albano. "So she'll train me how to do that. And we'll laugh and talk, and chat, and pass people."

"The parking structure that we go through is dark, so that takes a little bit of my time off going from a light to a dark," said Shannon. "I'll probably grab Suzy's shoulder when we do that part."

But why do it at all? Certainly Shannon gets enough exercise in her weekly training sessions? Why put herself in a new, uncertain situation such as a 10K? For Shannon, it's simple. She wants to see as much of the world as possible while she still can.

"I've just learned through the years that there's no such thing as a short life," said Shannon. "I've got to enjoy the things that I can while I still can see them. I just believe that you can't give up your life, whether it's your sight, your hearing, you've still got to do what you want to, and enjoy it."

On top of her job, where she helps others dealing with losing their site, her workouts, and having a personal life, Shannon is also currently going for her Masters in special education and vision rehab therapy. Proving the word can't, is just just that. A word

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