Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Eva Dress By Wanda Cobar

My long time friend from high school began to sing the praises of one of her dearest friends. I was so intrigued at the amazing woman she described that I wanted to meet said friend. Then I found out that said friend was a talented beautiful clothing designer. My friend told me where to visit the clothing designer's site and before long, I was learning more about the talented Wanda Cobar. she and her designs have gone around the world. From runways in New York to those in France. From designing outfits for local high school teams to Steven Tyler and other celebrities, Wanda Cobar is a star! I invite you to check out her latest dressed featured at the web site listed below. In the future, I will make sure to post much more information about pending showcases where you can go see her work on display.

Please check out The Eva Dress and feel free to buy it:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pleasant Prairie Recap

On Saturday night, I set my wake up call at 3:30a.m. for Sunday. I finally went to bed at 10:30p.m. but I had a difficult time falling asleep. I tossed and turned before finally sleeping only to be awakened a short time later then having to endure the process again. I could not understand why I kept tossing and turning since I would not be swimming at the race the next morning. I figured that should have relaxed me enough to sleep, bit it did not. Finally, at 3:30a.m. my alarm went off and I leaped up to get ready. I had placed my rope tether, bike helmet, and other items in my bag the night before so I only had to get dressed, eat breakfast, and go. I put on my triathlon shorts and my spanking brand new denver triathlon shirt. I had some powerade and a bagel. Shortly afterwards, Todd Smith, the man who would be my sighted guide for the event, arrived and we were off to the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon in Wisconsin.

We were on the road at 4:30a.m. so driving was smooth and easy. We reached the race site shortly after 5 o'clock and we made our way to the Dare2Tri Chicago tent. As I walked towards the tent, I took in a deep breath and found myself nervous and excited to be back on the grounds of another race. Todd lead me over to transition after a quick stop in the Dare2Tri tent. We found our tandem bike and Todd adjusted the seat for me. he put on my bib number which on this day was 8. As the race start neared, we left transition and returned to the tent. We waited as the first wave of athletes took their mark. The triathlon began at 6:30a.m., but our duathlon wave did not start until 7:16a.m. so it was tough getting swept away by hearing songs like eye Of The Tiger blasting out of speakers yet I could not go just yet. So I had to relax. We walked over to the start as we were ten minutes away from our wave start. I was nervous and anxious to get going. This was the first time todd would be a sighted guide in a race so I was attempting to figure out ways to put him at ease. It seemed as though he was anxious while relaxed so I did not have to say or do much other than give him some instructions on how to call out pending changes in the course. The time neared for our start. As part of the duathlon we would run 2.5 miles then bike 12.6 miles before closing the last leg with a 3.1 mile run.

It was time to go. Todd lead the way as our wave took off. I started off very slowly as I do in almost every race. I wanted to give Todd a chance to get into the groove while ensuring I was comfortable with my surroundings. It took almost three quarters of a mile before I started moving with a purpose. By the time we crossed the first mile, I was beginning to feel comfortable. It was a steady run which ended quickly and we jogged into transition. I took of my tether which I use for the run and put on my bike helmet. I grabbed some water as Keri Schindler of Great lakes Adaptive Sports Association and Dare2Tri Chicago suggested we not mount the bike until we walked it out of transition and on to the course. We did just that. After leaving transition, we mounted and began to roll. The couple of times I have done olympic distance triathlons, which include a twenty-five mile bike ride, I found that about halfway through is when my butt starts to hurt on the bike so I figured if I could get through the first ten miles of the bike, maybe I will only have to be concerned with my butt hurting for the final two miles as oppose to the longer rides. the moment we began to move, I was swept up by emotions wanting the bike portion to end quickly. Suddenly, I pedaled hard and fast. todd was taken by surprise and was thrilled at how strong my legs were kicking. He was laughing and kept encouraging me to keep kicking so I kept driving. Up the hills. Down the hills. I was charging. Every few minutes todd would laugh and say we were killing it. We were also hitting stretches where we rolling by groups of ten or fifteen cyclist at a time. the more excited todd became, the more I digged down deep to increase the speed. At one point Todd said we were moving at speeds greater than twenty, then twenty-five, and even thirty miles per hour on the bike. I could not sustain that speed, but we did crank it out steadily and before I knew it, todd said he could see us nearing transition. It could not have been much more than thirty minutes yet we were nearing the end of the 12.6 mile ride. We reached transition and jumped off. Keri Schindler met us and she walked with me as Todd put the bike away and grabbed my tether for the second run of the day. I grabbed an energy bar and some water and made my way to the run.

We started slow as I was in shock at what we had just achieved on the bike. Were we really pushing twenty-five and thirty miles per hour in stretches? that is incredible! It took almost a mile for me to fully get my legs under me, but I did, I found my comfort level and we cruised. Before long, we had reached the two mile mark and we were down to the final 1.1 mile of the race. todd pushed me to dig deep. I started to cramp, but I pressed along. I was fading. My ability to hear his instructions and react was becoming difficult, but I kept telling myself to stay focus. I could hear the public address announcer and music at the finish line. todd informed me that we were crossing the three mile mark. .1 miles to go. It was time to take flight. Putting aside any cramps and pain, I burst out ahead and took off. Todd struggled to keep up and he began to scream "To your left. to your right." I zigged and zagged my way through a large group of people as I pumped my arms and began to open up my stride and kick. I exploded towards the finish. the crowd grew louder and I grew stronger and truly took flight. Todd put his arms around me and we flew across the finish line to a loud ovation!

My first duathlon was in the books. We walked around getting hydrated and talking to others. Todd was so thrilled at successfully guiding and it was a joy to hear his excitement as he shared his thoughts with others on what the experience was like for him. I enjoyed hearing how nervous he became as I took off unexpectedly and he attempted to get me across without injuring myself or others. My first attempt at the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon with the Dare2Tri Chicago people was a joyous success. The next race for them will be July 30 in Chicago. The week before I will be in Denver for the Denver Triathlon. I hope the pictures from this event are great and I will be able to share them here, on Twitter, and Facebook for all to see.

Thank you again to Todd Smith for escorting me through the course in such splendid fashion. His reactions throughout the day served as the motivation for me to keep striving.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do The "Du"

It is the day before my first race as a member of Dare2Tri Chicago. The group will be heading to Wisconsin on Sunday to take part in the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon. Some members will tackle the olympic distance triathlon. Others will try their hands at the sprint distance. Still a few more will attempt the duathlon. That is the event I will be trying. It consists of a 2.5 mile run followed by a 20K bike ride then topped of with a 3.1 mile run. I have competed in a couple triathlons, but this will be my first duathlon. I am excited to be getting out there almost a month after the Soldier Field 10. After tomorrow, it will most likely be one month before my next race which is going to be the Denver Triathlon. I have never attempted a duathlon and look forward to the opportunity to have one under my belt bright and early tomorrow as the race will begin at about 6:30a.m. From what I understand, I will be a part of the first wave, but we shall see. I look forward to meeting the man who will be my sighted guide for the race. My only communication with the man, Todd Smith, has been via email. It is always fun to meet new individuals and make new friends. One of the aspects of racing which is both fun and challenging is meeting my sighted guides a day or two before the race, finding some commonality, then building up trust rather quickly. After all, whether I am swimming, biking, or running, it truly is a case of entrusting the person with my life. Often, he or she who guides me is volunteering as a guide for the first time so I know the person is anxious. I do my best to make them feel at ease as quickly as possible so he or she will be able to perform at his or her best. Most of all, I hope that the person enjoys the experience so that guiding will be something he or she will consider doing once more in the future.

My wake up call for tomorrow will be 3:15a.m. so I will be ready by the time Todd arrives to drive me to the race so I better go enjoy the rest of my day as I relax, get plenty of liquids, and prepare my equipment for the event.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Denver triathlon Discount for A Limited time

Are you interested in attempting your first triathlon? Have you completed many, but do not have one scheduled in July as you wish you did? A great event for your consideration is the Denver Triathlon! Test your mind and body in the Mile High city by participating in the olympic distance or sprint distance. You can either race in the event as an individual or as part of a team to take advantage of the triathlon club challenge. For a limited time, the race directors who are organizing this spectacular event are offering a $25.00 discount for those who wish to register. Push your mind and body to the limit. You may discover your limit is much more than you give yourself credit. In addition, you will have a chance to run into me! So check out the link below and register today to receive $25.00 off your entry.

If you have any questions you can contact the organizers directly and these friendly amazing people will get back to you promptly. I guarantee.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Optic Nerve Call for Submissions

Since losing my eyesight as a teen, I have been jumping over obstacles continuously. A major difficulty has been with technology. I admit I am not the most tech savvy person out there, but adaptive technology is often unable to keep up with the ever changing advancements which sighted folks take for granted. By the time third party software such as screen readers catch up to an advancement, program and site developers have long since moved on to other new inventions. Frequently, such programs, equipment, or sites are inaccessible for a time. This is one of the reasons when friends kept insisting I join the social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, I could not. I wanted to, but everything I read online from other blind and visually impaired computer users stated that these sites were inaccessible for screen readers. Eventually, mobile version of these sites proved to be accessible, but I have never liked them since I feel I am missing out on the enriched experience of the regular site even though the use of Flash on them makes it difficult for my screen reader to keep up with the regular site. After years of resisting, I purchased an Apple Mac a few years ago after plenty of research showed that by using a Mac, I would no longer have to spend $1,000 to $2,000 semi annually on third party screen reader software to use a PC. Plus, a similar amount when needing to buy upgrades. As of 2005, Apple computers came with screen reader software built-in for free. All upgrades were also free. Eventually, this was the case for their MP3 players, phones, and all other Apple products. Maybe ninety percent of the world still uses PC and so many more tech experts in the field of adaptive technology were PC people, but Apple products would enable me to use a blog, Facebook, and Twitter. I created this blog with a PC, but I struggled to navigate the site to post regularly. When I switched, I discovered I was able to access my account with much more ease. I also created my Facebook and Twitter accounts using my PC. I had some early success, but discovered even greater success upon making the switch to a Mac. Every so often, I will find a couple of tasks to be a bit more difficult on a Mac and would prefer a PC, but for the most part, I find I am able to be a part of the online world with greater ease nowadays. Being able to have more access to social networking sites has enabled me to reconnect with so many friends. Many of them have found me and I am shocked they still remember me. I find it most curious to hear what many of my friends especially those from grade school think of me now as finding me and seeing my pictures on Facebook is the first time they are seeing me since losing my sight. One of my grade school friends is a talented beautiful young woman with whom I reconnected over the last year. She is one of those friends from junior high who was always so amazing and I often wondered where and how she was since we lost contact so it has been a great thrill to touch base with her again. She now works at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, North Miami. The museum has put out a call for submission for their 2011 Optic Nerve. In previous years, they have accepted submissions only from artists in the Miami and Florida area, but this year, they have expanded their search to include artists from all over the country. So if you are a filmmaker who is interested in submitting your film for consideration as part of this year's Optic Nerve, please check out the guidelines and download and application at the site listed below. Early deadline is June 26 and final deadline is July 10.

For more information on Optic Nerve, please visit:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pleasant Prairie For Dare2Tri

Last October, I ran my first ever marathon when I tackled 26.2 miles at the Chicago Marathon. I never thought I would ever run that distance, but thank you to the amazing Paula Radcliffe for her world record performances over the years which inspired me to give it a try. As many of my readers may remember, the experience was made much more special when I was able to run the race on behalf of the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association based out of a Chicago suburb. It is an organization which works with adults and youths who have a physical disability or visually impairment. GLASA also works with military veterans whose sacrifice to the USA includes suffering injuries which now forces them to live with a physical or visual impairment. GLASA works hard to organize social events and athletic competition to enable these youth and adults to reclaim their lives or in some cases, discover their abilities for the first time in their lives. Hopefully, through the use of sports, these individuals can find strength and motivation for other aspects of their lives. Many of the young kids say that the staff at Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association were the first ones to ever believe in them or give them a sense of purpose.

Keri Schindler of GLASA has been wonderful to me since the first time she reached out to me a few years ago. I had contacted a couple of the shoes and apparel stores in Chicago which have running clubs to inquire about whether I may be allowed to run with those groups and to explain that I had lost my eyesight as a teen and spent the better part of almost twelve years not participating in athletics, mainly because I could not adjust to sports adapted for the blind, but that I had begun to participate in triathlons and road races and wished to be more involved with local groups in order to make more friends while hopefully finding some more individuals who would volunteer to be my sighted guides in future races. The folks with whom I spoke were warm and welcoming. they were willing to work with me and ask their members if anyone would be interested in trying to be my sighted guide during group runs. Through the exchange of phone calls and emails, Keri received a note from one of her friends who were friends of friends of the folks I had contacted at these stores. she introduced herself and told me about what she does with GLASA. When the opportunity to run the marathon on behalf of GLASA came along, I immediately said yes. Earlier this year, Keri informed me about a new triathlon club in Chicago which she and friends were putting together geared at athletes who were paratriathletes. Physically and visually impaired athletes who had either never raced a triathlon or who had done several and wished to do more as part of a team. I was excited as I began to read a little more about the club especially when I began to read about one of the other founders, Melissa Stockwell. She is an Iraq War veteran who lost her leg when a roadside bomb exploded three weeks after Melissa arrived to serve in the war for her country. I visited her web site, blog, and youtube videos. I was so moved by her story and courage. I knew the Dare2Tri Chicago Paratriathlon Club was a group with whom I wanted to associate.

The first event for the team is fast approaching. Sunday, June 26, is the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, Wi. There is an olympic and sprint distance triathlon. there is also a duathlon for those wishing to run and bike, but not swim. I am still not confident with my swim so I was leaning towards the sprint distance since the swim is 750 meters instead of double that for the olympic, but in the end, I decided on the duathlon since I will run 2.5 miles, bike 12.6 miles, and run 3.1 miles.

If anyone is interested in the triathlon:

Interested in more information about Dare2Tri Chicago especially if you are interested in being a handler or sighted guide:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kate Bergeron Updated IMDB Reel

It was late summer 2004. I had been taking acting classes for almost a year making some break-throughs here and there, but I had not quite begun to tap into what I could do. I spent plenty of time observing others in my classes attempting to learn from them. It was clear that so many of my friends would go on to be very special on stage and screen. Of course, many of them stood out immediately as being young, raw, and talented. Others were on the brink of stardom. It was just a matter of time. As it turned out, many of them have gone on to enjoy successful careers. Many of them are becoming household names appearing in plays, TV shows, films, magazines, and web shows. One of those individuals is the amazing Kate Bergeron. I had the opportunity to watch her work her magic. I also had the great privilege to work opposite her in some in-class exercises. It was such a joy! I learned so much from her. She now has an updated demo reel on IMDB which I invite all to watch. Read about some of the work she has done and prepare yourself to see this talented and beautiful actress, model, singer much more in the future.

Her demo reel can be found here:

Kate's personal web site is here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Soldier Field 10 Photos

On Saturday, May 28, I took part in the Soldier Field 10. A ten mile run starting just outside of famed Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and ending with a run through the players' tunnel, on to the field, and finishing on the home team's logo at the fifty yard line. Michael Crissie was my sighted guide for this event. The pictures are now available for purchase. I am providing this link in case anyone wishes to, at the very least, view my race day photos. There is a short video which plays once you log on to the site, but a few people have told me that they could not find me in it. You can try to look for me in case others simply missed me.