Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicago Triathlon 2012 Video

As I made my way through my feeds on Twitter and Facebook today, I noticed a few friends and organizations posted this link so I wanted to share it with all of you. It is a six minute video on the Chicago Triathlon which took place this Sunday. There are some powerful moving inspiring images of people from all walks of life and all levels of ability. I have to admit that my favorite was hearing the voice of a few pros including that of Jenna Parker who as my readers know has been coaching me this season. Again, some wonderful images which I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

CNN Hero

Last year, a woman I did not know reached out to me to suggest I run the Chicago Marathon with and for Imerman Angels which is an organization which believes in one-on-one cancer support where survivors help those currently fighting the disease to make it through a difficult time in their lives. I agreed to run for Imerman and I can not begin to thank Jessica Hiltner enough for reaching out to me. Besides Jessica, there have been so many wonderful people who have come into my life as a result including Jonny Imerman, a cancer survivor who founded the organization. People often insist that I am an inspiration. I wonder how can that be the case? Does losing your eyesight then deciding years later to give triathlons, marathons, and duathlons a try make one an inspiration? I do not believe so. I do however believe that what Jonny Imerman does and has been through makes him one. Cable News Network (CNN) agrees with me as they have named Jonny Imerman a hero. To read the article and learn about this organization for which I will once again run the Chicago half Marathon, Ready To Run 20 Miler, and Chicago Marathon, please visit the following link:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jenna, Jennifer, Kimberly: My Racing Trinity

Last week I wrote about how wonderful it has been to write screenplays with the intent of having actress, model, and elite triathlete, Jenna Parker star in those pieces. I also mentioned how we have begun working together as she deserves all the credit for getting me into what at this point is the best shape I have been in a long time. She has been providing me great wisdom, guidance, and plans. My job is to follow her instructions then go out and crush my races. After all, the only way people can see how great of a coach she is would be by my ability to romp and stomp in my races. As Jenna continues to work her magic in preparing me for events, I have been keeping an eye on potential sighted guides. I am so blessed that through my association with C Different Foundation, Dare2Tri Chicago, and Imerman Angels I have been introduced to some amazing accomplished athletes. I have also had the privilege of connecting with some wonderful individuals through the power of Facebook and Twitter which has enabled me to network with some of the best in the world when it comes to athletics. Two such great individuals whose friendship means so much and who have opened my eyes to what greatness looks like are elite marathoner, Jennifer Pfaff and elite Ironman triathlete, Kimberly Shah. Jen and Kimberly took me the distance at last year's Chicago Marathon where my finish time was not only forty-six minutes faster than the previous year, but it was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon as a Blind/Visually Impaired runner.

This year, I once again teamed up with Imerman Angels One-On-One Cancer Support to run the Chicago Marathon on Team Imerman. I wanted to raise funds for a great cause and amazing people while setting my sights on once again crushing my marathon personal best. I truly believe that without Jen and Kimberly, I would not have been able to achieve my result last year so of course, those two women were my first choices to guide me this year. I am sorry to my other friends who have expressed interest. I have seen how quickly Jen has learned to know when I am in need of support and a hug on the course and when the best thing for me is someone who must drive me no matter how much pain I am in at the time. She seems to know that whatever I may be saying may not be exactly what I feel or want. Kimberly is similar too. As I have written here before, Kimberly and I had a training run a week prior to last year's marathon where we sprinted on the beach and did not speak the entire time. Usually, I wish for my guides to speak so I feel comfortable knowing they are next to me, but on that day, Kimberly not saying a word was one of the most amazing experiences as although neither of us spoke, it was as though our bodies and breathing communicated our feelings. It was better than any runners' high.

I must admit that I waited to finally reach out to Jennifer and Kimberly about the Chicago Marathon because I was scared that their schedules would not permit. Ever the artist, I also was worried that between last year and now, I may have said or done something which angered or at least, bothered either woman to the point that they would never want to guide me for a race. Artists know exactly of what I speak. To my great surprise and excitement, both Jen and Kimberly have informed me that would be willing to take me the 26.2 mile distance for the second consecutive year! I do not know whether to yell the way Cuba Gooding Jr. did in Jerry Maguire when his character received a new contract or to get up from my keyboard and run through the streets the way Jimmy Stewart did in It's A Wonderful Life when he realized he had been given another chance to live. I look forward to running the streets of Chicago with these spectacular women. Armed by the guidance from Jenna, I know I will be able to achieve even greater results than last year. Jen and Kimberly also know me better and will know when to push all the correct buttons to get me across that finish line. Maybe just maybe, we will have the pleasure of experiencing what we did last year when they guided me across the finish just as NBC 5 Chicago's cameras were showing the finish line during the station's live TV coverage. I know that Jen and Kimberly are amazing accomplished athletes who have tremendously big hearts. It will be an honor to push my physical limits along side these talented gifted athletes. It will be an honor to perform better than I ever have at the marathon distance. It will be an honor to go out and crush this course and in so doing so, make Jenna proud knowing she is the reason I am in the best shape of my life and along with Jen and Kimberly, one of my trinity for the best performance of my life!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jenna To Compete In Beijing

When I heard that at a very early age, Jenna Parker informed her mother she wanted to be the first person to ever win an Olympic gold medal and an Academy Award, I was instantly intrigued. I started reading some more about Jenna and was even more fascinated by her. Almost immediately, I knew that I would want to work with her one day. In fact, my desire to one day have her star in one of my screenplays motivated me to begin to craft some scripts. The easiest thing to do was do what I always do and that is to listen to music. As I listened to a song, I began to think of images for one of my films. I started to imagine a new ending for one of my screenplays. The more I thought of the ending, the more I felt strongly that I would want to ask Jenna to be in that film. After some time, I kept thinking that asking her to simply make a cameo may not be enough so how could I increase the chances of landing her for a role? Why of course, make her one of the stars. Write a role strictly for her. Easy enough. I began to rework the screenplay in my head. This time, Jenna was one of the main characters. Suddenly, it was easy to imagine that character. Dialogue, scenes, plot points rushed out of me. After a short time, I had a new script all inspired by Jenna.

since writing that piece, I have found myself becoming an even greater fan of Jenna. While I wait to work with her on a film, I am so thrilled that in fact, I have had the great pleasure to work with her even though it has not been film related. Jenna has been the one who has been providing me guidance and coaching this season in preparation for my races. I have done all that I can to be disciplined to follow her instructions to the letter. I believe that is why I am in the best shape of my life. she has given me a clear direction towards my goals. In the same way, keeping her in mind, gave me a clear sense of the film I was writing, having her bright light be my influence has been such a spectacular joy. It has given me a sense of purpose to get up each morning and attack my workout sessions. I owe it to Jenna to be the best at what I am doing. What would it say if she took time out of her busy acting, modeling, and racing schedule to help me only to have me not put in the work or give my best effort. That would reflect bad on her. Of course, it would be me who would be falling short, but to many people, they would look at the situation as it is she who was not able to get the best out of me. With each session and race, I feel I am proving. I am much better prepared to tackle my races and much more confident too. I am excited about the September and october races I have lined up. Even as I take on my challenges, Jenna is busy romping and stomping to overall first, second, and third place finishes all over the world competing at the highest of elite levels against her fellow pro triathletes. On September 16, she will join a group of the best of the best pros in the world to compete at the Beijing Triathlon.

Read all about JP at the link below.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Would You Pledge To My Imerman Cause?

With less than two months before I run my third consecutive Chicago Marathon, I take this time to express my excitement for how I am transforming myself into a complete runner. For the first time in a very long time, I am mixing long runs with track work. I feel myself getting faster and in better shape. I am thrilled at the opportunity to once again represent Imerman Angels at this year's marathon. I will also get to run the Chicago half Marathon and 20 Miler. I will proudly sport my Imerman top as I attempt to do my best as a member of Team Imerman. On a daily basis, cancer fighters turn to Imerman for support. IA is able to provide it through mentor angels who help guide the fighter through the specific type of cancer. Imerman matches the cancer fighter with some of the same gender, cancer type, ethnicity, and other factors. Who best to help guide than someone who has experienced the journey on which someone is about to embark. I have seen what cancer does. We all have. I have seen friends and loved ones stare death in the face and thankfully survive. I have seen friends and loved ones fight bravely only to lose said fight when way too young. I can not be a mentor as thankfully, I have not yet stared death in the face in that fashion. I can however, do my best to raise awareness for the work Imerman Angels does. I can also raise funds so that I may contribute to imerman's mission. I did so last year. I am doing so again this year. If my running a half marathon, then a 20 miler a week later, and Chicago Marathon a few weeks after that can assist even in some small part to help bring hope and comfort to one, two, or three individuals, then I can take pride in having a role in making this a better place.

I hope you will consider donating to my fundraising effort. The link can be found at the bottom of this entry. I am also considering ways where I can do something a little extra which may inspire you to donate. I can not organize a bake sale or garage sale. I can use my body to motivate you. In other words, I am considering asking people to pledge a donation amount based on my race performances. The big day is the Chicago Marathon so what if I asked you to donate based on what I do in the half marathon? For every minute by which I set my new personal best, you can pledge a certain dollar amount. If you pledge $1 for each minute and I break my PR by twenty minutes, then after the race, you can donate $20 to the Israel imerman fundraising page. Or you can pledge based on what I do each mile. For every mile I run in under eight minutes, you will given an amount. If you would be so bold, you can challenge me to break a six minute mile in order for you to donate $100. Of course, that is just an example. I do not believe I can run that fast even if for just one mile. Maybe by next year. If you wish to get creative with your pledges, I am open to potential ideas.

I have even considered doing other acts which may garner interest for potential donors. For those I would need to record them and post the videos online as proof. For example, if you wish to donate a certain amount for every pushup I can do while having a friend lay on my back. Do not worry, I would not ask a little niece or nephew to be the person. That would be too easy. I would ask any of my women friends to volunteer. In the interest of full disclosure, I have women friends who can tell you that they have in fact laid on my back when I did pushups. During my college years and beyond, I have attempted this and have been successful so I would be open to trying it for this Imerman cause. Again, I am open to ideas you may wish me to perform. I can jump rope for a certain time. It would be similar to those dance-a-thons or events where one must perform the act for a predetermined time so for each revolution of the rope, you can donate. Please feel free to reach out to me via this blog, Twitter, or Facebook with suggestions.

I am thrilled for this opportunity to raise funds for Imerman. Please support my effort by donating. You can also pass along to others who may have an interest in my cause.

I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on my progress.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joining Nina To Spin for Paws Chicago

Just prior to running my first ever marathon, I came across the documentary, Spirit Of The marathon. It was truly a fascinating film which I ended up watching over and over the week of my first marathon. There were some wonderful quotes from that movie which I carry with me always. One is, "When you cross the finish line of a marathon, it'll change your life forever." That was certainly the case for me. I think in many respects, I earned plenty of street cred on that day from family, friends, and above all others, from my dad. In fact, after hearing that I sprained my ankle three miles into the race yet still managed to gut out the remaining twenty-two miles, my dad said, "Even more so, you are an athlete to me." He was amazed by my finishing, but it took on a different and more special meaning for him when he heard his son was injured. He said that in all his years of watching sports, he has learned that when athletes get hurt and perform, that is when fan truly learn what those athletes are made of which is why his level of pride was that much greater.

This October, a talented amazing actress, model, and runner will cross that finish at the Chicago Marathon and it will change her life forever. Even before she ever reaches race day, she is altering lives of others. She is Nina and she is running the marathon while raising funds to benefit Paws Chicago a wonderful organization for which I am sure there is not a shortage of people who can say wonderful comments about the group. Nina is giving these dogs a second or third chance to live with owners, families, and children in whose lives they will bring joy. Animal lovers can tell you the hours, days, years worth of memories which their pet and companion has brought to their lives. Nina is making sure that tradition continues. All of us can ensure Nina helps Paws Chicago by contributing to her fundraising cause. We can donate at her page. We can also attend a spin class on August 26. For forty-five minutes, we can ride like the wind, have a blast, and give towards Nina's cause.

For more information about Nina's event and how to get involved, please visit Nina's blog, Run Dance Love.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kate For Team Refuel

I had seen the name Kate Bongiovanni several times, but I admit, it was not until I noticed her name commented on a blog entry posted on the Fleet Feet Cheer Team's site which reposted my Chicago Marathon entry, did I take notice. At the FF site, Abe Cortez had taken my account of having the amazing and talented Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff guiding me through the marathon and shared it with the site's readers. I would check people's comments and do my best to respond to inform them I appreciate their taking the time to read and offer feedback. One of those individuals was Kate. I was a thrill and honor to read her feedback. Kate is an Ironman triathlete, writer, and coach. Since her comment on the FF site, I have become friends with Kate via Facebook and have had the privilege to meet her in person earlier this year at the Soldier Field 10 in May. She blends the act of doing with the art of writing when she competes then blogs about her experiences. Kate is quite talented and very deserving of the honor for which she is a finalist. Kate has an opportunity to join Team Refuel. she will race on the team and be sponsored by the company. All we have to do is help make it happen by voting for her to win one of the slots. For each vote we cast, $1 is donated to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I have several friends who have been guides, handlers, and volunteers for CAF athletes. These are athletes who have a disability and are competing in various races across the world. I am sure if you have participated in events, you have raced along side CAF athletes and possibly along side my friends who have served as volunteers. In fact, my friend, Matt Miller, founder of the C Different Foundation, contacted CAF inquiring about blind and visually impaired athletes with whom he could train and race. Over the years, CAF has sent many athletes to CDF and those individuals have successfully completed Ironman triathlons, olympic distance races, and other road races. Your vote(s) can serve to both help Kate Bongiovanni andCAF. It is a win win for all involved.

Please take the time to visit the following link, vote for the amazing Kate, then pass along word to others to do the same. Thank you.