Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com
Swimming 750 meters, cycling 24.8 miles and then running 6.2 miles is demanding enough.
But at this year’s USA Triathlon national championships, Ashley Eisenmenger couldn’t see the pool before diving into the water. She didn’t know which way to turn on her bike. She couldn’t monitor her running pace on a watch. She couldn’t even reach for her water bottle.
But for Eisenmenger, a national champion triathlete who is legally blind, it’s her reason to wake up every morning.
“To give the most I have to give,” she said, “not in just in triathlon but in life. It’s about discipline and structure. That’s what triathlon gives me.”
With no vision in her left eye and limited, fading vision in her right, Eisenmenger, 20, has been legally blind since birth. Despite her physical limitations, the Tolono, Ill. native played softball and basketball during middle school. When she started high school, she turned to running to cope with social changes and her diminishing vision.
“I wanted something that I knew I could do no matter what changed and that was running,” she said. “If the remainder of my vision was gone, I could still tether to a guide and still run.”
CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University, features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.