Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sugar Land Finish Line Sports 30K

Sunday, December 13, 2009 was a windy chilly day. Ross O'Dowd and I made our way to the Sugar Land Finish Line Sports 30K shortly after 6a.m. for a 7a.m. start. I was cold wearing only a short sleeve dry fit shirt with the name and logo of the C Different Foundation and small tight running shorts. Our pre race meal was banana, water, a gel pack, and more water. Ross made sure we had our gel packs and blocks ready for when we'd need them during the race. Up to this point, Ross' longest run was ten miles while my longest was the AIA Half Marathon 13.1 miles when I was guided by Brian Pearlman. Ross said, "There's no one holding a gun to our heads saying we need to finish in a certain amount of time. We don't need to be heroes. We just need to cross the finish line." Nerves turned to excitement as we crossed the starting line and took our first step towards 18.6 miles. The challenge isn't to beat everyone else across the finish line. It is to push yourself to your physical and mental limits along the way hopefully discovering how much toughness you truly possess. Many of the thirty-seven athletes who had run the 5K the day before were CDF athletes who were also running this 30K. Seven CDF athletes are sprinters or short distance runners who were not about to tackle 18.6 miles so they instead chose to run the 30K as a relay. It must have been a sight to watch a blind/visually impaired athlete tethered to his/her guide sprint the designated distance then passing off the tether to the next athlete and so on. Professional Ironman Triathlete, Desiree Ficker guided each of the athletes so it must have been wild to see her sprinting the full 18.6 miles switching partners every so often. Meanwhile, Ross and I were coasting through the streets meeting new people along the course who spoke highly of the CDF athletes who were out there. One woman, Christy, told us how inspirational it was and how she could never undertake such a responsibility as guiding. We ran with her for several miles. By the end, we had her excited and very much interested in joining the CDF family. Talking to Christy made the miles fly by. Before we knew it, we had completed eight miles. Just behind us was a seven year old who was running the 30K! We crossed the ten mile mark. More than halfway done. With each step, Ross was setting a new PR. Mile 12. We're taking energy drinks and water. Feeling tired, but is that time correct? Yes, it is. Then a female voice shouts, "Mile 13. 2:23." Are you serious? I smiled and said to myself, "That's for you Brian Pearlman." I had shatter my PR for 13 miles by thirty-four minutes. Soon after, my legs hit the wall. I started to feel pain. My legs locked up. We pressed on. If I have to I will "Julie Moss it." In 1982, Julie Moss was a twenty-three year old college student who did the Ironman Triathlon as research for a term paper. After swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, she began the 26.2 mile run with a twenty minute lead on the female field, but her body began to shut down and with only meters to go for the most incredible win, she collapsed having to crawl to the finish line and settle for second place. I received a great source of inspiration and pressure as CDF founder, Matt Miller joined Ross and I on the course. Matt is such a wonderful selfless individual who gives so much to others that I feel performing less than my best is not letting myself down it's letting him down. He talked to us kept our mind off the pain and kept encouraging us. He remained positive and was proud of how I was moving through this course faster than I was at the AIA. The pain was too much, but we kept on. Mile 18. Just .6 left. I had nothing left. My body and mind were shot! Ross and Matt kept up the encouragement. The final quarter mile. I could here the finish line. PA announcer, music, screams. Louder. Louder! A bolt of adrenalin and it was on! I sprinted towards the finish line. Ross had carried me 18.4 miles and it was now time to drag him home. He had me pump my fist in the air. I waved my hat around as we dashed across that finish line!! We had done it. 18.6 miles and 21.7 total miles on back-to-back days. Pain and soreness be damned, we had pushed our bodies and minds to the limits and had discovered something about ourselves and each other. Ross then admitted his ten mile run had taken place in junior high. Now, he has a new PR. We are ready for the next challenge!


  1. You are the true definition of a hero - willing to go the limits of your capacity and the break all records, break all finish lines that your imagination has given you! What a story. You are one of my greatest teachers of life, Israel...and Ross is a hoot- the most amazing hoot I ever heard of! Congratulations to both of you!

  2. I guess it's true no one and nothing in our lives is on accident. Since deciding to race in road races and triathlons a couple years back I've been blessed to meet so many wonderfully inspirational people such as Ross. I'm just trying to make him proud and not disappoint!