Thursday, May 31, 2012

Soldier Field 10 2012

On Friday night, I was nervous. Will my body hold up? Will I be able to set a new ten mile personal record at Soldier Field 10? I tossed and turned. I could not sleep. Eventually, I did and woke up a few hours later. It was not time to get up just yet so I slept some more. Finally, at 5 o'clock, I jumped up and prepared myself. I sported my Imerman Angels top and my usual trusty triathlon shorts. I laced up my Brooks Running shoes, grabbed a sweater, and bag to head out to the race. Michael Crissie showed up and off we went to Soldier Field. I was sick and tired. My back was hurting for some reason. I wondered if at some point in the night I pulled a muscle while coughing. Michael told me he and his wife, Alison, had prepared a sign which he wore on the back of his shirt. It read Blind Runner. It was bright road tape so people should see it. Maybe we would not get any strange looks or mutters under people's breath assuming we are homosexuals or something for being tethered together. Traffic was plenty on this Saturday morning. We have never been caught in traffic like this before on route to previous Soldier Field 10 races. It took longer than normal to arrive to our parking spot. We made our way to the meeting place where we would meet other runners from the Imerman Angels team. We met them. We then rushed to gear check then to the starting area. We listened to the anthem and some announcements as we made final preparations. The gun sounded. We inched our way to the start line.

We crossed the start and we were off and running. It took a while for me to feel comfortable. We raced through a tunnel which is always tough for me as I lose my sense of direction and acute hearing while in there, but we managed it quite well. Then I suddenly had the desire to use the rest room. Oh great. Would I be able to hold it in until we completed this race or will I need to go at some point. It soon became clear, I would have to stop somewhere along the course. We went along. Wherever we could, Michael pushed us. Very quickly, I noticed that Michael's sign was in fact helping as people would comment to one another "There goes a blind runner." I heard one woman say, "Oh gees. That young man is blind. It shows me I never have anything to complain about." People seem to be more understanding instead of glaring at us. Some began to compliment me and Michael. One man told Michael what he was doing was so inspiring. I agreed. Before I knew it, Michael informed me we had completed three miles. That was fast. We kept going. We soon reached the turn-around just before the five mile mark and we were greeted by a harsh headwind. Whoa. Michael kept the charge going, but soon, he noticed a rest room so we stopped then regrouped. After a pause, I was feeling much better and felt I could truly begin to turn up the speed. As we made our way through the course, people kept cheering. Several women yelled out Sexy Isra! I gave a thumbs up. They laughed. A couple women told me in spanish that I was cute and hot. I was feeling good. Prior to the race, I kept telling myself I was going to challenge myself to embrace the pain then run through it. Up to this point in the race, I had not felt any pain as I normally would. We reached mile seven which is when my throat felt a little pain, but it quickly disappeared. I had not felt any problems as a result of my illness until that point. Then we ran into a woman. Michael yelled out, "Blind runner on your left. Excuse me, lady." He shouted. No response. No movement. Within a few feet of her, he realized she was wearing earbuds. I crashed into her. Her knee seem to buckle. she slowed down. She was shocked. Michael yelled at her that he had attempted to warn her and that maybe next time she would hear if she isn't wearing earbuds. Another woman helped her out. I felt bad that we hit her, but I had also begun to feel annoyance by so many people listening to music and did not seem to be paying attention. We kept on. The burn was not coming. Just before mile nine, I heard a man laughing and saying, "Hey, Sexy Isra." Then he put his hand on my shoulder as he ran by us. It was Erwin, a great friend whom I met about three years ago who had spent a few months teaching me to swim. We exchanged pleasantries as he passed by and moved ahead of us. One mile to go. It was time to go. I tried pushing. Michael navigated me through the crowd. I kept wanting to let it all hang out, but Michael kept telling me to slow down as to not run into people. We would hit some nice stretches before we would have to slow down. Throughout this race, I kept thinking of friends, Jenny and Kimberly, who have guided me before. There are moments where I am glad they don't tell me my pace based on their GPS Garmin tracker because when I hear that I am moving faster than I had planned, I get scared and fight to hold back. Then there are times where I hear how I have slowed down and I start to lose confidence before regaining said confidence when I am told my speed has improved once more. It truly is a mind game. On this day, I did not have the luxury of their Garmin so I had not a clue how fast or slow we were moving. I had my feeling and it felt to me as Michael and I had run the course much faster than ever before. We neared the stadium. We entered. We ran down the players' tunnel and heard some cheers. Any second now, we would pop out by one of the end zones. There! We were out and on to the field. Michael told me he would try to line us up so we could sprint right down the center of the field as we raced the final fifty yards to cross at the fifty yard line on the Chicago Bears logo. We did it! For the third consecutive year, Michael Crissie had unselfishly and courageously guided me through ten miles of the SF10. Best of all, we had crushed our personal record. I was not sure by how much, but I was certain by at least thirteen minutes. It felt like that. I was not certain, but I was very confident. In fact, we may have even crushed it by more than that.

A few days went by and I was satisfied with our performance. There were no Wow Moments which leaped out at me, but we had run a steady race. The pain never came, but it was probably because of how great a shape I had achieved in training for this event. For the first time in a long time, if not ever, I had a true sense of direction with my daily workouts. I had guidance from an amazing professional who has shine on some of the biggest stages in this country and the world. Tired of waiting for an e-mail with my official time, I went digging online. I found it. I read through my results. I reached my official finishing time. This would be the icing on the cake. I had run a fun race. I saw some friends. I even met an athlete and writer named Kate with whom I am friends on Facebook. It was time to learn how great we had performed and by how much we had shattered the previous time. 1:39:09. What? I read the time over and over. My heart sank. Instantly, the joy I had been feeling for a few days disappeared and was replaced by disappointment and disgust. That is why I never felt the pain! I had set my new ten mile best by six minutes. It was not by as much as I thought or by as much as I wanted. I had failed Michael. I had failed Jenna. Above all, I was angry at myself. So many runners complained about the wind. I could complain that I was not 100%, but I was not about to do that. No excuses! I did not perform to my best. Again, I was heart broken. I thought I had made major improvements. I had. My training was the best it has been since the days I trained my body to get into tip top fighting shape in order to star in performances of my theater piece, In The Dark, where there was a scene late in the show where I was on stage shirtless. I was ready to shine. Yet, it turns out, I really was not able to deliver what I believe I should. It hurt. It also hurt as I began to wonder, what if that is exactly the best I could have done on that day? What if on that day, I was not good enough to have run faster? Clearly, that is the case since I did not run faster. I had improved my time from last year yet I felt that I had taken a big step backwards. I wanted to share my feelings immediately on this site, but I decided to let those feelings sit inside of me for a day as I attempt to make sense of them and the situation. Today, I feel much better. I embrace the results as they are and will move on to the next race. Special thanks to Michael for guiding me to another PR. Thank you to Jenna for guiding and preparing me for this race. Congratulations to her on her mad dash sprint to the finish for fourth place on Monday at the Capitol Of Texas Triathlon in Austin which is part of the Race To The Toyota Cup.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Preparing For SF10

I am ready to toe the start line at Soldier Field 10 in the morning. This week has been tough because I came down with a sore throat followed by sneezing fits. Thankfully, my body temp is not in flux as it was at the the start of the week. After one day off to start the week, I managed to put in a solid week of training. I even had the chance to go on a five mile run with Michael Crissie, the young man who will guide me for the event. This is the third consecutive year Michael will be my eyes for this ten mile race. The excitement to run through that players' tunnel and on to the stadium field to cross the finish line at the 50 yard line remains as high as it was the first year we achieved the experience. I am nervous due to my body not being in tip top condition. Then again, some of the greatest athletes in history perform best on the days they were ill so hope I can focus all positive energy throughout the race and deliver a solid performance. In years past, Michael has received dirty looks from other runners as we pass them. A few times, I have even heard a curse word or two directed at us. Although we are tethered together, there are still plenty of people who probably think we are cheating to obtain an unfair advantage. Maybe they think Michael is faster and I am merely going for the ride. I do not believe many of them realize that I can not see. I do not wear a sign which reads Blind Runner. Michael does not wear one stating he is a Guide Runner. I do not like to single myself out that way. I do not want to draw attention to myself as a blind runner because I do not view myself as one. I am simply just another runner enjoying the fun and pushing myself. Yet tomorrow, Michael and I have decided that he will wear something on the back of his shirt to make others aware. Maybe that way, he will not receive so many dirty glares. Maybe people will display a bit more courtesy as we navigate through the crowd. Hopefully that will be the case so that Michael can focus on informing me of turns, aid stations, and other obstacles. Doing so in real time to ensure our safety is tough enough without others making it difficult. We will then be able to put our attention on pushing our physical limits on route to the third consecutive year where we break my ten mile personal record.

Best of luck to all those running the Soldier Field 10! I will be sporting a top from Imerman angels non profit which on the back reads: SEXY ISRA. Thank you again to Jemma of imerman Angels for writing that on my top. If you see me, please say hello. If you see Michael, please let him know how wonderful of a job he is doing. I know for certain that guiding a runner who is blind through any race is a responsibility at which I would be bad. I could never do what these amazing athletes do who volunteer to be the eyes for those who can not see. Time for me to relax and speak positive thoughts to myself. Come what may on Saturday morning, thank you to Michael Crissie for volunteering once more to guide me. Special thanks to the fabulous Jenna for all you do to inspire, motivate, and prepare me. I hope to make you proud of me over the next ten miles I will run! Best of luck to Jenna, who fresh off a fourth place finish in KC last weekend, will be racing in Austin this weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SF10 For Imerman Angels

It has been five months since I last stepped to the starting line of a race. The last time was for the Houston Half Marathon the same weekend as the Marathon Olympic Qualifier. That was such a special weekend meeting Christopher, our home stay, and the wonderful people connected with the C Different Foundation. It was especially special since I had the great privilege to travel, spend the weekend, and race with the fabulous, Jennifer Pfaff. She is simply amazing! As an athlete and a friend. This coming Saturday, I will once again wake up on race day. It will be the third consecutive year I will run the Soldier Field 10. As was the case each of the two years I have previously run in this event, Michael Crissie will be my sighted guide. He and I will be tethered together and it will be his responsibility to ensure I go the ten mile distance as safely as possible. I am excited for Michael because this is the first race he will get a chance to guide since his moment of inspiration. Earlier this year, he told me that seeing the pictures from last October's Chicago Marathon when Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff guided me to a Boston Qualifying time was quite moving. He also stated that reading my blog entries as well as Kimberly's race report on her Iron Insanity blog was very emotional. He was motivated to become a stronger runner and better guide. He has been pushing himself preparing for Soldier Field 10. I have been getting ready with the help of a tremendously gifted person named Jenna. I have goals for SF10, but I will wait to see if I reach them before informing my readers about Jenna. If you are a regular reader, you may have already seen previous posts discussing what a tremendous athlete she is. If not, I do not want to say all the wonderful things I feel and how I believe she is making me a better athlete only to then go out and lay an egg this weekend. That would only reflect badly on her. Of course, if I crush my goals as Michael and I hope we will, then you will never hear the end of how Jenna deserves most of the credit for getting me ready. Truth be told, I am very confident that there will be races this year where I will perform even better than I expect and I know it will be because of Jenna. I am confident I will be singing Jenna's praises tirelessly in the months to come. For now, I hope you visit the link below to my fundraising page for Imerman Angels. I raced and raised funds for them last year and have returned to do more of the same this season. The three races I will run with Team IA are Soldier Field 10, Chicago half Marathon on September 9, and Chicago Marathon this October. The first steps to a successfuly season with IA will be taken this Saturday. I hope you will come on this journey with me. Please follow my progress here and feel free to get involved by donating or passing the link to others who may have an interest in helping an organization which provides one-on-one cancer support to current fighters. Survivors mentor those who are currently experiencing the same type of cancer. There are also care givers and volunteers to help the loved ones of a cancer fighter as the loved ones also may need help in order to deal with the cancer or how to best help those suffering with cancer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kate At The Comedy Store

One of my favorite people in the world is the lovely and talented Kate Bergeron! She is a very talented woman, actress, singer, director, teacher, writer, and so much more. You may have seen her dazzle on a stage, on film, or on web site programs. In the past, I have posted her up-to-date reel which is located at IMDB. Just last week, one of her latest project, a feature film, was screened in LA. Now, people in LA get another chance to watch this beautiful talented woman work her magic on a stage. Tonight at 8p.m. people will be treated to Kate's debut performance at the famed Comedy Store. Yes, she is debuting a standup comedy routine. You do not want to miss it so, if you live in the area, go check out the show.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Still Point Directed By laura Sturm

The yearly Dionysos Cup presented by Polarity Ensemble Theatre allows writers to show off their talents for audiences. I have known writers whose work have been displayed at this festival. I also know plenty of actors and directors who lend their talents to the shows. One such talented woman is the beautiful Laura Sturm who has received credit for years for being the woman who helped me make various break-throughs in my acting work. In fact, it was reading Laura's biography on the web site for the acting school where she taught at the time which motivated me to attend that school. My main purpose for picking that particular school was to go study under Laura's leadership. Yes, Laura taught me plenty. In fact, Laura redefined my life! Other instructors at the school praised Laura for her ability to tap into my talent and help bring out the best in me. Laura would say I did the difficult work, but I say it was she who had the difficult task of breaking through my defense walls in order to assist me in tearing down my barriers.

Tonight, you can watch Still Point, a play Laura is directing as part of the Dionysos Cup. See her bring out the best from other gifted actors by attending tonight's festivities. For more information on location, time, and cost, please visit the following site:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You're Not Alone: I'm Here!

In Rocky III, Mr. T played the memorable role of James Clubber Lang in where he stated, "I live alone. I train alone." He stated this as he challenged Rocky Balboa to a fight to take Rocky's title of heavyweight champion of the world. Of course, Rocky fights him and loses. Later, Rocky and Clubber have a rematch where Rocky is victorious. Mr. T's playing of this character is one of my favorite. Unlike Mr. Lang, no one in this world should be alone especially when it comes to fighting cancer. For the second consecutive year, I have joined the Imerman Angels non profit organization to fundraise and race as a member of the team. This season, I am running the Soldier Field 10, Chicago half Marathon, and Bank Of America Chicago Marathon. I look forward to running through the streets of Chicago in May, September, and October raising money and awareness for the group which does such wonderful work providing cancer sufferers a support base and network which they so richly deserve as they fight for their lives. The first of these three races takes place in ten days. Please take a look at my Imerman Angels page, consider donating, and pass along to your friends and family. Throughout this year, I will continue to keep you up-to-date on my progress. I hope you take the time to read and lend your support even if it is merely offering me encouragement as I challenge myself to new personal heights as a member of this fantastic organization.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Go Jenna Go

Twas the night before Olympic Trials and all through my body I was hoping for a successful outcome. Of course, I am not racing in San Diego for the right to earn a spot on Team USA to represent the United States in London this year. However, one of my favorite athletes is doing just that on Friday. She is a talented actress, amazing triathlete, and beautiful model. She is Jenna Parker! For several years, triathlon fans have seen her have top ten finishes. They seen her cross the line as one of the top three on that day. They have also witnessed her close the race by being the best on that day. As I reflected on what to write tonight prior to the big race tomorrow, I thought about the following. She has long since joined the list of individuals who inspire and motivate me as an athlete, as a writer, and as a person. Now Jenna has an opportunity to join the list of Olympians. If all goes well and she earns a spot on the squad then later this year, she will get the chance to compete on the biggest stage for the opportunity to realize her dream of a gold medal. I will be thinking of her through the event and hope all my readers will join me in wishing her the best. May our well wishes help carry her to a tremendous performance. May she continue to add to the reasons she is such a wonderful accomplished athlete and person. Go Jenna go!!