Wednesday, February 29, 2012
One of the difficult aspects of racing in events takes places before race day and does not involve training or preparing in any way for the event. It involves registering for the race. For the most part, I have become comfortable with navigating registration sites, but there are points in the registration which can frustrate me. At times, the system will not accept my information as I type it. Other times, my curser will be announced as being in the correct edit box, but in fact, will be in a different one on the page therefore, even as I hear my computer's screen reader speaking that I am typing in my information, nothing will actually get entered in the space provided. Often, I must spend plenty of time with some trial and error until I get the information filled in to the proper place. Other times, for whatever reason, the registration site insists that some bit of information is missing when it clearly is not. In those cases, I will have to resort to finding sighted assistance. There have been moments where I simply need to provide the final detail to complete registration, but it does not work and I must cancel the entire process and wait for someone to be available to help me. There are cases where I have been lucky enough to have the person in charge of registration for the race offer to assist me. This is always the case when it comes to Soldier Field 10. The first year I wanted to race in this, I had to contact Justine Boney who was and is a tremendous lovely woman. The next year, Elizabeth was more than happy to register me. This year, Alexis Arvis of Fleet Feet has agreed to register my name to ensure I will race. Today, Alexis did just that! Tomorrow, I will have to call her back to register my guide, Michael Crissie. Michael has guided me each of the first two years I have run this race. I am so excited that he will be my eyes once again. It is always so much fun starting just outside of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and running through the streets of Chicago before finishing by running through the players' tunnel, through the end zone, and across the fifty yard line. I am excited about being faster than we have ever been together. Michael has been working hard to get in the best shape of his life. He did tell me a few months ago that it was seeing the pictures of Kimberly and Jennifer guiding me at the Chicago Marathon as well as reading the blog entry about the experience which motivated him to push very hard this year. So on Michael's behalf, thank you Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff for inspiring Michael to be a better guide. I can not wait for May 26 when Michael and I will get to add another race to our growing experiences of running together.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Shortly after running in the 2011 Chicago Marathon, Abe Cortez, a member of Fleet Feet's Cheer Team, reposted my marathon race report from this site to the FF Cheer Team site. From there and a result of other friends reposted links to that site via Twitter and Facebook, I received congratulatory comments from many individuals including people I did not know. Wherever I could, I did my best to express my gratitude to those people directly. One of those individuals was a young woman named Megan B. Through that race report, Megan and I have become supportive friends to each other. Now, I wish to take this time to wish Megan all the best luck in the world as she takes on the challenge of 13.1 miles for what I believe is the first time in her life! She is running the Disney's Princess Half Marathon tomorrow morning.
A few weeks ago, I became friends on Facebook with a young woman who is friends with Megan. Thanks to Megan who insisted Jennifer F. check out Sexy Isra Experience. Jennifer did and was so moved by my words that we became friends. I also wish to say best of luck to her as Jennifer will run the Disney's Princess half Marathon. I hope both Megan and Jennifer enjoy the experience. I look forward to reading and hearing how Megan and Jennifer handle the course. Megan and Jennifer are rock stars in my book!
Friday, February 17, 2012
After I returned from Houston in January where I ran a half marathon and set my new PR at 1:57:08 beating my previous personal record by twenty-seven minutes, I was satisfied in knowing my athletic performance was heading in the right direction. With each race, I continue to improve on my finish times. I would hope that the next time I run a half marathon I will be able to improve by leaps and bounds again. Then again, maybe my finish time will only be better by five or seven minutes. That will be okay, right? I guess yes since I would show improvement. On the flip side, I can argue no, that would not be alright because I would want my time to improve by fifteen, twenty, or more minutes. All I can do is take it one day at a time. I simply need to remain focus on both a short term and long term plan of what I am expecting to achieve with my next event and this year. I received a note from my friend, Todd,congratulating me on my accomplishment in Houston. He instructed me to pick a race that he and I could crush this year. I immediately thought of Chicago Half Marathon on September 9. It helped that Todd said he would be open for a race later in the summer. Perfect. We agreed that would in fact be the race he would guide me. Hopefully by then, I would have run one or two more 13.1 mile races and would have a different PR than the one I set in Houston. I remain hopeful that I will run in either, if not both, Chicago Spring Half on May 12 and RNR Half on July 21.
Todd and I first met on a Sunday morning last June when he guided me for the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon. Actually, we did the duathlon which was a bike, run, bike race. It was the first time I had ever push upwards of 30 miles per hour on a bike. Todd mentioned to me that when he competed in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, he saw blind triathletes and their guides making their way through the course. This inspired him to volunteer as a guide. I smiled as I wondered if these blind triathletes and their guides were in fact associated with Matt Miller and the C Different Foundation. I am guessing they were. After Todd and I agreed to run the Chicago half Marathon in September together, I decided to reach out to the organizers to explain my interest in running and inquire about any papers or wavers for Todd. I prepared to craft an e-mail when I received a note from Jemma Lotzer of Imerman Angels informing me that she had been in contact with the organizers of the race about getting Imerman Angels to join the charity groups as well as getting some members of Team Imerman into the field. Jemma asked if I would be interested in running the event with Team Imerman. If so, she could work on any issues and legalities. I immediately told her yes. She let me know that organizers had agreed to get me into Coral A for the race. This is where the elite start. One must fly out of the gate! I was so grateful that Jemma worked this out. It is seven months away, but I am thrilled because I am confident by race day, my PR will indeed be faster than my current PR so Todd and I will truly be looking to fly out of the gate with any of the elite in this field. A couple days ago, I registered for the race. I am officially in the field. I am so looking forward to this. Of course, there are many races between now and then. My PR time will be different by that day. Thank you again to Todd for volunteering and Jemma for working out the details for me. A big shout out to Imerman Angels who have allowed me to return for another season of events. Last year, I only did one event with Imerman. In 2012, I am already signed up for two. It looks like I will be running the Chamrock Shuffle in Chicago for the first time ever next month when Jemma will guide me. That will make it three events. I am sure Imerman will find other events in which I can run while sporting the Imerman top with the name which reads Sexy Isra.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
When I was a little boy, I heard the song One Moment In Time by Whitney Houston. It was so lovely. It was so moving that it instantly became one of my favorite songs the year it came out. A lasting memory from my youth is watching the 1988 World Series on television. When the series concluded and the network wrapped up the game and year's coverage, viewers were treated to a final montage featuring the participants, LA Dodgers and Oakland Athletics set to that Whitney Houston song. Years later while in college, I turned off my TV set having just watched another thrilling Duke versus UNC men's basketball game when One Moment In Time came on the radio. I was a little boy all over again remembering not only those baseball images, but others from that year and my youth as a whole.
After news of Whitney's death hit the world, so many people took to social media to express their thoughts. I had just been researching youtube the night before trying to find a song of hers which I remember hearing on WKDI-FM, the student radio station at which I worked when in college. I could not recall its name, but remembered calling the on air DJ to ask what it was called. The person told me, but I have since forgotten. I did recall it was Whitney who sang it so I started typing in lyrics. After a few attempts I found it! I listened to it a few times and was taken back to my college years. I was a bit sad as I reflected on my dreams at the time. I thought of what my mentality was as well as my aspirations. I thought of how much my dreams had changed and how I had changed. The next day, I learned that Whitney had died. I enjoyed her music, but did not feel as strong a connection as many people on social media. I did think of her daughter, family, and songs. Like most everyone else, I thought of what the organizers and producers of the Grammys would do, if anything, the following night during the televised ceremony. In the end, my feelings for what took place were similar to those shared by Beth Bernstein in this blog entry which I am posting here. She touches on love being a contact sport and unfortunately, not in a good way. She touches on an aspect of the human condition which has always made me uncomfortable, the deep connection which goes beyond fandom and enters well into the realm of hero worship rivaling or more intense compared to that of a family member. She discusses the dark undercurrent of what viewers were offered when they tuned in to watch events unfold which were clearly mixed in the message delivered to consumers and especially that which was delivered to girls and women. I found Beth's words to be powerful and moving. I shared this link on Facebook and Twitter, but wanted to do so here as well because this gives me an opportunity to express my thoughts more freely than in just 140 or 420 characters. Thank you for reading this entry. Thank you to Beth for writing and permitting me to share it too.
Monday, February 13, 2012
A couple of years ago, I agreed to run in a 30K for a non profit. I received an e-mail from a young woman who helped organize the weekend's festivities. When I flew to the city to meet up with the rest of the team members participating in the weekend's events, I had the chance to meet the young woman. In fact, it was after the race was over and everyone was hanging out at a local establishment celebrating individual and team accomplishments. She walked up and introduced herself. Her name is Marrielle. We ended up having a wonderful conversation and learned we had plenty of interests in common. Mainly, theater, film, and story telling. I learned about her interest and accomplishments. I was amazed. I was excited that I had made a new friend who could also provide me some guiding wisdom when it comes to theater, film, and story telling. Marrielle has in fact been a guiding light and much more. She is one of my favorite people in the world. She is intelligent, beautiful, and wise. She is also now involved with Thirty-One Gifts. I recently visited Marrielle's site for Thirty-One Gifts and now I wish to share the link with you. If you are interested in some product for yourself or others, you will enjoy the purses, handbags, and items found on the site. If you are a woman looking for an avenue to contribute more monetary stability to your life and home, this is a company you should consider. There are monthly specials of some wonderful hand-made items which you and your loved ones will enjoy tremendously. Please take the time to log on to Marrielle's site and check out what you can purchase. Again, Marrielle is one of my favorite people and you will like what she is selling.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
On Friday night, I was nervous about participating in my first Cycle For Survival event on Saturday morning. I tried going to bed early to get a good night's rest, but my plan did not quite work the way I wished. I tossed and turned. At 1a.m. I was still awake. I eventually fell asleep and woke up short after 8a.m. I had one hour and a half to get ready. The morning session ran from eight o'clock to noon. I was scheduled to ride at 10:30a.m. I walked out my door at 9:30a.m. and headed to Equinox the Loop. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. I gave my name to the two young women sitting at the front desk. One of them said, "Oh yes, I know you're in here somewhere because I saw your name earlier and it caught my attention because I am from Israel." She gave what I needed then offered to walk me up to the second level where the Cycle would occur. It was a loud atmosphere. I could not hear. The music and person on the microphone drowned out everything else. I did my best to follow the young woman, but I kept running into equipment and people. We made our way to a young man named Paul who said he would take me around to get ready. After I removed my coat, sweater, and running pants, he walked me into a room which was filled with fruit, energy drinks, and food. I grabbed a banana and energy drink. While walking around, we ran into Nandan. This was perfect since, for him is whom I was about to ask. Paul left and nandan said he would walk me over to the bikes reserved for Njoy Racing Team. I was introduced to two lovely young women, Julie and Jenna, both of whom said they had heard so much about me from the high praise Kimberly Shah had given me over the last few months. I take this time to say thank you to Kimberly for speaking of me in glowing terms to these women. Julie and Jenna helped me get set up as both Julie and Nandan explained that I would merely need to listen to the instructor on the microphone and follow his or her instructions on whether to pedal fast or raise the resistance on the bike to climb a hill. By this point, my ears had adjusted to the surrounding so I was able to hear much better as compared to when I first arrived. As I warmed up and played with the resistance knob on the bike, Bethaney Minkner greeted me. Bethaney had been on the bike just prior to my leg and we had been in contact leading up to this event. Both of us were excited and apparently both of us struggled to sleep the night before. I was glad I was not the only one. I started to ride. I felt great. I had to climb a few hills then sprint for some time. I was truly enjoying the experience as other Njoy Racing members engaged me in conversation or simply cheered. From time-to-time various team members would ask how I was feeling or if I needed anything. Everyone was so pleasant. It made me forget my nerves and enjoy the ride. At one point I thought to myself, this is really just a very large spinning class. This is fun! I had nothing about which to be anxious. I was able to raise some funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center while joining a group of wonderful people on a ride. I express my deepest heart felt gratitude to those who took the time to log on and donate to my effort. Each one of you who already long since had a special place in my heart, cemented your place. Before I knew it, I was only five minutes from concluding my leg of the ride. I made sure to fully enjoy the moment. Then I heard that my half hour was complete. It was time to dismount to let the next person prepare. Nandan came over and assisted me off the bike. He helped grab my belongings and change into my winter outfit for the cold. As we chatted, Ted walked up already preparing for his time. The last time I remember seeing Ted was when he guided me for the Glow Run 5K on December 1. That was another fun time. After a few minutes with him and taking of some pictures, Nandan walked me downstairs where we continued talking as he waited for my ride to pull up.
It was so much fun meeting and seeing people at the Cycle For Survival. I loved the opportunity to be a part of Njoy Racing Team. Special thanks to Kimberly Shah for letting me be on the team this year. I hope to do more in the future. Again, thank you to those who supported my efforts. Also, thank you to Ted and Bethaney for posting some pictures which included me at the ride. It was such a joy to do my part to help sufferers of rare cancers hopefully get a fighting chance at treatment or medication which will enable their cancer to be managed or go into remission.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The night before every single event I get nervous. I am so tonight. Tomorrow will be here soon enough and I will have to head out into the snow and cold towards downtown Chicago to participate in my first ever Cycle For Survival. It is not a race, but not knowing what to expect is making me anxious. Am I prepared? Will I get the hang of it or will I struggle? I have taken a spinning class. I have raced in triathlons. I use a bike often in training. I should be able to handle this cycling event. After all, the hard part has passed. I have spent time asking people for donation. I have been lucky enough to get some wonderful people to give their hard earned money to my cause. For that, I am so grateful! Each of you has a special place in my heart. Now comes the fun part. Meeting some wonderful people, reconnecting with those I have already met, and experiencing this ride knowing we are all part of the Njoy Racing team riding to benefit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital which funds research to find treatment for those who suffer from rare forms of cancer.
I need to go put out my clothes and try to get some rest. I can already tell I probably will not sleep much tonight. I am very excited about this fun new challenge.
For anyone interested in giving me one final push to my goal, please log on to the following site:
Thursday, February 9, 2012
When an athlete or team wins a championship, we are quick to start asking is he, is she, or are they the best ever? When we see a nice human interest story on the news about a disabled youth or adult achieving some form of athletic success we call them heroic or inspirational. At times we may forget those individuals who truly are great, inspirational, and heroic. We may forget people like Jared Rose. He is a retired marine veteran who received two purple hearts after being injured during a tour in Afghanistan. Jared is one of the best individuals on the greatest group of arm personel. He is an inspiring heroic person who served this country to the best of his ability and was willing to put his life on the line to defend our freedoms while looking out for his fellow marines. Sports fans, especially football fans, are quick to use terms like soldiering on, down in the trenches, or going into battle. Jared has truly lived those terms. Now, he is taking on a challenge of a different kind. Jared is pushing his body and mind to its limits in a different way as he will race the Ironman Triathlon in New York City this coming August. Jared will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles on behalf of Team Continuum. His goal is to raise $5,000 for the organization. He is nearing his goal, but he will not reach it without our help. Jared has given this country so much through his service in the arm forces. Now it is time for me and you to give back to him. It is time for us to highlight his achievement the way we highlight championship athletes or human interest news stories. After all, Jared Rose is truly an inspiring and heroic person.
To learn more about Jared and his efforts for Team Continuum, please visit the following site:
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
A year ago, I received a notice via Twitter that I had a new follower. I noticed the name and sent a thank you message to the young woman. I then noticed that she sent me a tweet asking if I was running the Chicago Marathon again in 2011. Clearly, she knew I had run the marathon in 2010. I said no since I was not able to register in time before it closed. She encouraged me to pick a charity and register. I had spent the previous couple of days researching and reaching out to a few non profits so I felt the universe was telling me to follow this plan. I posted a tweet that I would run the marathon for a non profit. In response to this, another young woman reached out to me with a suggestion. Jessica Hiltner insisted I join Imerman Active and run for Imerman Angels. Within a day or two I was all signed up to go 26.2 in October. The people I met immediately were some of the nicest sweetest angels in the world. Jessica, Kat, and Jemma just to name a few of them. Jessica has become one of my greatest supporters. I am also so grateful because she is often one of my greatest inspirations and motivations to attempt a new challenge. I have always been told that you are merely a reflection of those whom surround you. If you believe your friends are spectacular, amazing, and special then you should know that it is because those words describe you too. Nowhere is this more evident than the circle of Jessica's friends. All of the ones I have met or of whom I have heard are exactly like Jessica. If you are a regular reader to this blog then you know I would not lie or tell you a half truth. If you are new to this blog then I would like to direct your attention to Jessica's site. Here, you can read about some of the amazing people in her life who are doing their part to make this a better world. Nikki, Mark, Allie, Somer, and of course, Jessica. Please visit the following site:
Friday, February 3, 2012
On February 1, registration opened for the Chicago Marathon which will be held on Sunday, October 7, 2012. In 2010, I ran in my first ever marathon at Chicago. In 2011, I was escorted through the 26.2 mile course through the streets of Chicago by the amazing sexy guides, Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff. Of course, I wanted to return and run Chicago for a third consecutive year. In 2010, after spraining my ankle three miles into the race, I managed to cross the finish line. I was not about to disappoint my guides, Rich Karnia and Peter Mullen. Last year, I was able to have a finish time which qualified me for the Boston Marathon in the category for visually impaired runners. When registration opened, I watched my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline filled with friends successfully signing up for the race. I visited the marathon site and played with attempting to fill out the form. I struggled. At times, I typed and my information was filled in properly. At other times, I would type, but nothing would be entered into the edit fields. I tried several times, but I was not successful. I called the organizer's office, but the person informed me she could not register me over the phone. She offered to send me a paper application. I declined figuring I would find someone sighted to help me. As the hours passed and turned into days, I began to receive e-mails as well as notice updates on Facebook and Twitter that the event was filling up fast. I remember reading about the early years of the marathon. In those days, registration remained open until late September. In more recent years, registration would fill up within months. Last year, registration closed after only a month. That was record time for this marathon. This morning I learned that registration had passed 30,000 runners. The marathon closes when it reaches 45,000. At that rate, the race might be filled by Sunday. I could not wait for sighted help. This afternoon I sat down at my computer and thought, it matters not how long and tedious this process will be, I will register for this marathon. I went through the form carefully. Once again, filling in the information was hit or miss. With some of the questions, I had to answer multiple times before it would accept my response. I had to play with the curser and tab buttons until I lined up said curser in the proper field before I could provide a response. Little-by-little I inched closer to the finish. Then I arrived to the final question. Luckily, just then, I was able to get sighted help as my brother came over. I asked him to look over my form and he informed me that all was filled in correctly. He pressed submit and I heard that I would receive a confirmation message immediately. I checked my e-mail in box and there was my confirmation for registering for the 2012 Chicago Marathon! I thanked my brother for his help. I was most excited that I had registered mostly on my own. The only issue I have to resolve about registration is ensuring I will be able to get the same start as last year where I started one minute after the wheelchair division and just ahead of the pro elite. When I registered in 2011, one of my sisters filled out the information, sent it to me, and I sent it to the people in charge of the charity for which I was running. They took care of my form from there. My sister did notice an option to select that I was a visually impaired athlete. While the Chicago Marathon does not officially have a VI division, I could select that option and receive the start assignment I did, but this year, I only noticed a place to indicate whether I was a wheelchair participant. I will have to ask Chicago Marathon organizers to help me in possibly making that change so I can get the same start this coming October. That was such a magical experience and one of many reasons it was such a wonderful time in 2011.
As I did last year, I am running and raising funds as a member of the Imerman Angels team. IA is a non profit organization which works to offer one-on-one cancer support by pairing up cancer sufferers with a mentor Angel of the same age, gender, ethnic background who has experienced and beaten the same cancer the current sufferer is enduring. IA matches people on a daily basis all across the world. In order to help them continue their mission, I will aim to raise $750 between now and Chicago Marathon. I will run a couple other local races throughout 2012 as a member of Imerman Angels. The people associated with this organization have been overly spectacular with me since the first day I heard about and reached out to them seven months ago. I am grateful they have embraced me again and have ensured I will be a member of this year's team. If you wish to read about them and see my fundraising page, please log on to the following site. This will be a nine month journey as I fundraise and train for these races. I am excited about finally getting out and seeing who will be the individual or individuals who will volunteer to guide me this marathon. In a perfect world, I would love to get the band back together and have Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff guiding me once again, but I know they have their own races, schedules, and lives. They are two women who get the best out of me and I know they would help me achieve even greater success this race. After all, they helped me cut my finish time by forty-six minutes. I have no doubt I could cut it by an additional hour and who better to motivate and inspire me than an champion pro triathlete/coach and a champion marathoner.
Please visit my site at:
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
One of my friends, Megan, posted a link to a story on Facebook several weeks ago. The story was about a woman, forty-three year old Sherry Arnold, who went out for her usual morning run on a Saturday morning, but unlike her other morning jogs, she did not return. the beloved woman, teacher, wife, daughter, sister, and friend was taken from this world in a horrific act of violence and lack of respect for human life. More recently, Megan posted another link which is to a blog called, Shut Up and Run. On this site, I read about a virtual run scheduled for Saturday, February 11, 2012. Wherever you are in this world, you can take part in this run. You can print out a bib to wear on this run. You can pay tribute to a fallen runner. You can show support for a woman who was taken from this world. You can read more about the event and learn how you can participate by visiting the URL at the end of this post. You can spread the word to others in your community and across the globe. Together, we can honor Sherry Arnold.