Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Treat: Racing Pics

Happy Halloween to you!! May you receive more treats than tricks on this day. For anyone who may not be friends with me on Facebook, I wish to provide you this treat. This is a link to my pictures from the Chicago Marathon held on October 7. Hope you will not be frightened by seeing my mug. I know for a fact you will enjoy seeing the faces of the very beautiful women who were my guides on that day. Kimberly and Jen. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Videos From Chicago Marathon 2012

Recently, I shared these videos with my little niece. she was so excited that she was screaming and yelling as she cheered for me. She screamed, "I see you. Go Israel! You can win the race." I decided to share it with you, my readers. This gives you a chance to see me at the Chicago Marathon from earlier this month. Sunday, October 7. There is one video of me and Kimberly Shah while the next one includes me guided by Jennifer Pfaff as well as Kimberly. Two of the most amazing women in the world and I am so privileged to call them my friends. As I mentioned on Facebook recently, for the last few years, I have had the privilege to run with Kimberly and Jen several times during training and races. As a result, I can forever say that I know what it feels like to run along side and in between greatness!! Thank you to those two outstanding women, athletes, and friends. With special thanks to Jenna Parker for helping get me into the best shape of my life and teaching me how to train and race.

Mile 1

Second Half Of Marathon

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Melissa Stockwell: 3 Time World Champion

In early 2011, Keri Schindler asked me if I wish to join a new triathlon club she and a few friends had put together in the Chicago area. I said yes. Besides having the chance to work closely with Keri, a person with whom I worked closely when I ran my first Chicago Marathon on the GLASA Team, I would also have the opportunity to meet and race along side Melissa Stockwell, an Iraq War veteran and above the knee amputee who was officially the first woman wounded in the war three weeks after she arrived. Melissa returned to the USA after her injury and began the long journey back to reclaiming her life. She did plenty of swimming. she was a natural in the water. She was introduced to the sport of triathlon. Swim, bike, run came easy to her. It was so easy she competed in her first event at the Chicago Triathlon and won her division. She flew to New York and competed in the National Championship in the Physically Challenged division and she won! As a result, Melissa competed at the World Championships. My favorite part of reading her race report was nearing the finish line as the locals who lined the streets cheered "USA USA!" Melissa was handed an American flag which she carried and waved proudly as she stormed to the first place finish. Melissa was the world champion. The thing is, Melissa never stopped being that. In 2011, Melissa defended both her national and international titles. After winning for a third consecutive year at the US Nationals, Melissa made her way to Auckland New Zealand this past weekend to compete and defend her title for a third consecutive year. She rolled to a gold medal victory completing the 3-peat! Another member of her Dare2Tri Chicago paratriathlon Club rolled in second as a third American woman raced home giving the US a sweep of the top three spots at the podium. Congratulations to my friend and teammate, Melissa Stockwell on her tremendous accomplishment. The motto of the organization, Dare2Tri, which she co-founded is "One inspires many." She certainly does that and so much more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cobar Erupted Love

For the last couple of years I have had the privilege to know the amazing, talented, and beautiful Wanda Cobar. She is a tremendous fashion designer whose latest collection will be unveiled to the public this coming Saturday as part of Fashion Focus 2012. FF is a week long celebration of various talented designers in Chicago. The web site, Chicago Now, published a piece on the fabulous Wanda and the inspiration behind her latest line. Please visit the following link to read the piece. I hope to see you on Saturday night as Cobar Collection unveils some new clothes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012: Breaking 4:00:00

As marathoner, Jennifer Pfaff, grabbed the tether leading me towards the finish line, Ironman triathlete, Kimberly Shah, was demanding I give it my all. The finish line was within striking distance. I needed to go after it. I struggled with all my might to move forward. I used every last bit of energy and made it across the finish line in my second consecutive Chicago Marathon. I had improved my time by forty-six minutes. I had finished in 4:50:20 which was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon 2013 in the visually impaired/ blind category. People congratulated me. That morning, I just wanted to improve my finish time from the previous year, but a comment to Kimberly as we made our way to the race had planted the seed and these amazing women were going to make sure I earned a trip to Boston. As I heard from people on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, there was a part of me which was already looking to 2012. I was going to return to Chicago Marathon start line and I wanted to do better. As a blind/visually impaired person, one need only to run a marathon in under five hours to qualify for Boston. Sure it is a tough task, but many of my friends who have their sight must struggle mightily to run a 3:05, 3:28, 3:332 marathon to BQ. I feel they earn their way, but me? I want to feel as though I did too. I wish the standards were a bit tougher. Then again, it took everything I had to make it in the first place so what made me think I could do better and run faster? I just knew I could. Within hours of crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line, I was already telling Jen that I planned to break my personal record by another forty-six minutes in 2012. Jen felt I could do better than that. Truthfully, I did too. I told Kimberly that I wanted to work hard enough to break four hours. She said she would hold me to that.

When 2012 began, I knew I would need to train smarter. I needed to understand so much if I wanted to improve my race times. Whether it was the Soldier Field 10, Pleasant Prairie Duathlon, or Chicago Marathon, I needed to understand how to race. I needed to learn how to prepare to race. I reached out to the talented and amazing pro triathlete, model, and actress, Jenna Parker to guide me. She was willing to help me. Over several months, she pushed me to improve. One year I worked on mostly long runs. Another year I did plenty of speed work. Jenna made sure I combined both. I had never learned to combine both. I had never learned how to do a tempo run, long run, or interval nor how to structure my training to ensure I benefited from these sessions. Jenna taught me how to do that. Although I did not realize it during my training sessions, a great benefit to training under Jenna was I was learning to get stronger. In races, my plan was always to start slow, build, and finish strong. Unfortunately, I would always start slow, get worse, and completely fall apart by the end. With Jenna's help, that would not be the case any longer.

As I continued to work with Jenna, I needed to finalized my Chicago Marathon guides. My first choices were Kimberly and Jen. I reached out to them and both accepted my request to guide me. As was the case in 2011, Kimberly would start with me as Jen would come in at the midway point and take me across the finish as Kimberly would run along side continuing to help even if not guiding. Jenna was my guiding light, Kimberly and Jen were in the system as my guides, and now all which remained was to set a goal and go after it. Well, the goal was set. Break four hours.

Race week was here. I worked on the plan which Jenna laid out and I was confident because I was in the best shape of my life. I met up with Kimberly on a Saturday morning for a run and I had my strongest run ever with her. The marathon expo arrived. Kimberly and I picked up our packet from Keri Schindler who was in charge of the Disability Wave. We walked around tried some samples and spent time with Jonny Imerman, cancer survivor and founder of Imerman Angels, the non profit for whom I was fundraising and running the marathon. Kimberly and I met up for one final easy run one day before the race and I was anxious. For several days, my legs felt sluggish. During most of this easy run, my legs felt tired. If I was struggled today, what will happen tomorrow? In the afternoon, I made sure my race outfit, tether, and bib were set. I was not a fan of the predicted cold weather for the race. I wished it would be warmer. I did not want to run in cold temperatures. As I tossed and turned in bed, I remained nervous that my legs felt weak. I was scared because I knew Jenna had helped me get into the best shape of my life. I knew I was ready for this marathon. I had the training to break four hours. Would I have the mental toughness to do so?

Race day arrived. I could not sleep. By 3a.m. I was awake. I was alone with my thoughts until 4a.m. when I stood up for the first time and discovered my legs were still weak. I shivered as I prepared. Shortly after 5a.m. Kimberly called to say she was on her way. She picked me up and we headed out. The Chicago morning was cold. I mentioned my weak legs to Kimberly who promptly put my mind at ease explaining why I had felt that all along. I felt better. As the morning went along, my legs felt stronger. We made our way to the race. We entered the disability tent waiting for the moment when we could walk to the start corral. I told Kimberly how the plan was to go out slower, build to a steady pace then at mile 20 let it all go. She agreed and was ready. She reminded me to stay relaxed. On Saturday morning, during our run, Kimberly had me practice the race start a couple times. She has noticed how I am nervous to start out. I will either clutch on to my guide's elbow until I feel comfortable or clutch on to the tether around my waist as a security blanket. She insisted we practice the start so that I could get comfortable not grabbing her elbow nor the tether. She wanted me to run free and easy from the opening gun. We tried it a few times and she was satisfied that I could pull it off and it would save us a couple minutes which she insisted could be the difference between breaking four hours or just missing it. As we stood in the corral, I took deep breaths. Kimberly assured me I would do better this year. I was in much better shape. I knew she was right. I had worked harder than ever before. Jenna had prepared me like never before. The starting gun sounded and we crossed the start line. I ran free and easy. Fans cheered. We made our way. Kimberly was thrilled at how easy I adapted to this new way of starting and soon enough, I was flowing through the Chicago streets.

The miles flew by. Kimberly was excited. She would ask how I was feeling. I felt great. I figured as long as I stayed at about nine minutes per mile at the start and gradually increased my speed then maybe by the time I reached mile 20 with Jen, I'd be around the three hour mark at which point I would run my heart out confident that I would break four hours. Again, Kimberly asked how I felt. I felt great. From time-to-time I would speed up, but Kimberly would quickly remind me to slow down and follow the plan. I would slow down. At about mile eight, my friend, Michael Crissie, jumped out of the crowd and expressed how happy he was to see me running free and strong. He ran with us a bit as he informed me his brother Brian would be at mile 25 ready to cheer me on to the finish. A couple miles later, we were met by Kimberly's friend, LT Dan. He was running strong. After chatting for a bit, he moved ahead. At about mile twelve, my friend, Randy, cruised by, said hello, and headed towards what turned out to be a five minute PR of 3:23. Kimberly mentioned that halfway through that mile was when I had told her last year that I did not think I could finish. Back then, I was scared that I was running to fast. At that time, I had been running at a nine minute per mile pace. This year was about the same only I was running free and easy. I was not scared this time.

At the halfway point, Jennifer stepped in and took over guiding duties from Kimberly. Jen was now on my left and Kimberly shifted to my right as they both ran with me. Kimberly was excited at how strong I was running. In fact, what I did not know at the time, but learned after the race, was that I was running much faster than my planned nine minutes per mile pace. I was actually running the miles thirty to forty seconds faster. At the point of the guide exchange, I was running my fastest marathon ever! As the miles piled up, I started to wear down. I received a boost when I heard a familiar voice in the crowd cheering for me. My brother-in-law and a couple of my sisters had come to yell not only for me, but for my seventeen year old nephew who was making his marathon debut. After about seventeen or eighteen miles, Kimberly decided to drop off, loop around, and meet us at mile twenty-five. Slowly, I was starting to get worried. It did not seem like I was running as fast. This is when I was suppose to get stronger. Instead I was getting tired. Jen kept insisting I join her by running next to her instead of a stride or two behind. I tried, but could not. She kept encouraging me. I kept fighting. At about mile twenty, I started to labor. I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. I wanted to stop and walk it off, but I also did not want to break my stride. I stumbled a bit confused on whether to ask Jen to stop or to just run through it. The cramp grew worse. I needed to stop, but I knew I should not stop so I pressed on. Jen asked what hurt and I explained it to her. She said at the next aid station, we could get Gatorade, but stopping right now was not an option. I agreed and we kept running. It took a while, but the cramp went away. I felt pain in both shins, but was so happy from not stopping earlier that these shin issues were not going to slow me down either. I was grateful for the hamstring cramp for it showed me how much pain I was willing to run through on this day. My pace had slowed. Jen was demanding I fight through any issues because the slower I ran, the faster the four hour mark approached. I tried to use the crowd and music to get me moving. I was fading. At about mile twenty-two, someone yelled out, "Hey Israel!" It was Abby Reese. Her sister, Amanda has been a tremendous friend and one of my favorite athletes since I had the privilege to cover her legendary college basketball career. Abby made her way passed us on route to what was a five minute PR as well finishing in 3:43. Her stopping for a bit to say hello gave me a nice boost as I headed towards the next mile. Still, I was not able to sustain the pace and I started dropping back. Jen kept asking me how much I wanted to break four hours. She insisted, "You have to start moving. I can't want this more than you. This is your race." She was right. I wanted this, but the pain was too much. She asked again, "Do you really want this." I did not answer. I was too busy doubting myself. "Or we could just drop out. Is that what you want? I don't think so because we're not quitters." I was in so much pain. As she told me how much time remained before the clock hit four hours, I found myself saying, "At least I have a new PR. I'm shattering last year's time." Of course, I only said that mentally. I would not dare say it to Jen. We reached mile twenty-four. We were inching our way. The clock was ticking. Twenty-one minutes left. What was 8:20 to 8:30 pace with Kimberly had steadily fallen to over ten minutes with Jen. This was not how I wanted this race to go. I needed to start picking it up. I started to believe my heart is not in it. I do not want this as much as I thought. Even if I do, I do not have the ability to pick up the pace and run my race. Jen suggested we start running twenty second pickups. We did. After a couple, I started questioning myself as to why I could not take those twenty seconds and extend them into many more seconds or minutes. Jen told me we were still moving too slow.. We kept with the pickups. They helped a bit. We crossed over a mat. It was the 40K mark. 2,000 and few hundred yards remained. Ten minutes to go. I needed to start running fast. I thought of my friend who lost her life to cancer a year ago. She was the reason I joined Imerman Angels. I asked her to help me from heaven. I kept telling myself this was so close and I must push. I heard Brian Crissie's voice. "Israel, you're a mile from the finish. You're an inspiration, buddy! I'm proud of you. You've got this." I respect him so much so hearing him say those words almost reduced me to tears. I thought about Jenna. Confident that at this point in the race I would be running strong, I had planned to run my fastest mile right now as a way to say thank you for all the wonderful ways she has enriched my life both athletically and artistically. I needed to dig deep. What if this is all I had left? That could not be. Just then I heard Kimberly's voice. "We have to go. Come on!" I started to run faster. Not fast enough. Time is running out. Jen picked up the speed. If I was going to stay with her, I needed to push like never before. Clock is ticking. I picked up the pace for a bit, but started slowing down again. Kimberly yelled, "No! Not now. Faster." I could not go faster. I leaned back. Kimberly reached behind me and pushed me forward. "Lean forward!", she yelled. I tried to use her push as a way to spring ahead. After some time, I slowed up again. Jen screamed, "Run with me, Is! You got to run with me!" I tried, but my legs were not firing. Kimberly screamed that we only had five minutes to break four hours. I figured we were about 1,000 meters from the finish. I could do this. I have run 800 meters in 3:45 to 4:00. It would be close, but I could do this. I tried pushing ahead, but my legs were jello. I leaned back. Kimberly yelled once more, "No! Faster! I know it hurts. It's suppose to hurt. Now come on, go!" A fast charging Jen yells, "Help me, Is. Work with me!" I tried driving forward. Jen tells me we are about to turn. Kimberly instructs me to not hesitate and make that turn aggressively. I stagger. Kimberly grabs me to make the turn. We make it. She tells me it's one final straight-away. I figure we are a quarter mile from the finish. I push hard. Jen and Kimberly work hard to keep me moving. Time is running out. We are flying by people. Kimberly screams that we have 100 meters to go. I think to myself, that is about twelve seconds. I can make this hurt for that length of time. I start to sprint as best I can. Halfway there I start to slow down. I yell at myself. This is not the time to ease up. Now is the time to go all out. Just a few more seconds. We cross one mat. I keep running. There is one more. Kimberly and Jen slow down. I am confused. Is there not one more mat? I turn to Kimberly. "Is it over?" She turns to me. "Yeah" she hugs me, "It's over." Jen hugs me. She is not sure if we made it. Kimberly insists we did. Jen believes we missed it by sixteen seconds. Kimberly said we made it by one minute. We are not sure. Until further notice, I will go with Kimberly's estimated time. We walk around. Eventually, Kimberly departs and heads home. Jen walks me to the Imerman Angels ten where the first person I see is Jonny followed by Jemma who points out that not only did I run another PR, but is qualifies me for Boston as a blind/visually impaired runner.

I see my nephew. He completed his first marathon in 3:35. I ask how was it? He responds, "I always knew it was tough, but I didn't understand how much until today. I have more respect for what you do than I ever have before." Still unsure of my time, I head home. I get home and take off my race clothes. Before showering, I check Facebook. Almost immediately after logging on, my friend, Kristine, sends me a note congratulating me on my 3:58 finish. What? I did it? I broke four hours! Later, Jen confirmed it and I was so thrilled. My quest was complete. Thanks to Jenna, Kimberly, and Jen I had broken four hours. I also learned after the race that my final mile was an eight minute mile which was my fastest of the day. In fact, since losing my sight, my fastest mile in a race was 8:05 a month ago so this final mile has now in fact become my fastest race mile ever. While I have run faster in training, I have yet to run a faster mile in race. Again, all thanks to Kimberly and Jen who would not let me give up and settle for falling short. With special thanks to Jenna for not only preparing me throughout this season, but was my motivation to run the mile of my life to break four hours.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chicago Marathon: 10 Years Journey

What is your dream? We all have them. What about those who do not? You may think it is not possible to not have dreams. I can assure you that it can certainly be the case. After I lost my sight, I stopped dreaming. There was no longer a reason to do so. Then I discovered radio and I was filled with dreams of being an on air talk personality. Full of life and in love, I was ready to be a radio superstar. The only problem, the person with whom I was in love nor radio agreed with me. Before long, I had neither. Once more, my dreams were over. I thought the best thing to do was bulk up. Women love that. Well, not my female friends. When several of them told me a Bruce Lee sexy physique is what turns them on, it was time to change my focus. I returned to my childhood. I never had size, height, or talent, but I had speed. I began to work on getting lean and fast I would get excited for a short while then lose interest. After all, there was no one around to take notice of said physique. Around that time, I started taking acting classes and now there were plenty of young actresses to take notice. None of them did. I was slowly running out of options as I tried to find myself. One of my escapes was watching the Chicago Marathon on TV. Growing up, my family would sit around the TV checking out Chicago, New York, and Boston. I was amazed at what these runners could achieve. I also thought they were crazy. I did not understand how they could do that to their body. I said to myself that I will never do that. Then came along the amazing Paula Radcliffe storming to a world record time at the 2002 Chicago Marathon. The way she took command of that race was quite special. I was in awe! Six months later, she dominated to another world shattering performance in her home country's race. In case, you were not sure, Paula proved that she was the best and the fastest. There was no way I was ever going to be as fast as her, but now, for the first time in my life, I had a dream of completing a marathon. I needed to do one. I wanted it to be my home town race so that I could run the same streets as Paula. It took many years, but on 10-10-10, I stood at the start line ready to live my dream. The crowd was amazing. The run was moving along until, I sprained my ankle at mile 3.5. I was not to be denied as I hung on for dear life crossing the finish in about 5:35. It hurt, but I had finished. Still, I wanted to return to try it once more. Last year, I joined Imerman Angels One-On-One Cancer Support and took to the Chicago streets once more. The amazing Kimberly Shah and Jennifer Pfaff agreed to guide me. Each would guide for half the race. It too was a struggle, but these amazing accomplished athletes made sure I would cross that finish in 4:50:20. That was an improvement of forty-six minutes while also being good enough to qualify me for the Boston Marathon as a Blind/Visually Impaired runner. I knew that my goal was to improve this year so my first choice was to ask Kimberly and Jennifer to guide me again. I wanted the two spectacular women who helped me achieve something special to take me the distance as I run Chicago on the ten year anniversary of when Paula Radcliffe inspired me to do this race. They both agreed to return and I then reached out to the fabulous Jenna Parker to help get me prepared for the race. In fact, she has been my coach this entire season. The most important thing for me was to improve my performance so that I am not fading down the stretch in races. My goal has always been to start slow, build, and crush it at the end. I have never been successful in doing that. I always start slow, get worse, then hang on for dear life in the waning part of the race. This was the case in all my races until I started working with Jenna. Now, in every race, I seem to get strong. I find myself negative splitting my races. Three weeks ago, I was able to run the entire twenty miles of the Ready To Run 20 Miler for the first time ever. I am always having to resort to a run/walk plan late in that race, but not this time!! I am so comfortable with the work Jenna has done that I have set my sights on breaking four hours for the first time in my life at the marathon distance. I wish to run well, fast, and strong to make myself proud. Of course, I am scared and anxious as I am before each race, but I know that Jenna has prepared me by helping me toe that start line in the best shape of my life. As most have told me, I merely need to believe in my training and ability. My last few training runs had me confident that I could reach my goal. Today's light run were I felt tired for most of it has me worried. My legs continue to feel tight and tired even as I write this so I am concern, but I hope a good night's rest and the excitement of the crowd will help me in the opening stages so that my desire can take over and hopefully finish with the strongest finish I have ever delivered. I wish to break four and know I can do it. Kimberly and Jennifer will guide. Jenna has prepared me so now it is up to me to perform. I need to embrace the pain and run through it. I need to trust that Kimberly, Jennifer, and Jenna have done all they can, it is up to me to take it the rest of the way. A few months ago, I wrote about my trinity which is Kimberly, Jennifer and Jenna. Now is the time to give the race of my life as a way to say thank you to those women for what they have given me. In the same way, I now must do all that I can as a way to say thank you to Paula who inspired me to run the distance. I know I will run my fastest marathon on Sunday. The only question is whether I will reach my goal. Training was tough, but now it is time to enjoy the moment and run free to make Kimberly, Jennifer, Jenna, Paula, and myself proud!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why I Race For Imerman Angels

When I tell people that I was more scared jumping into the Hudson River the second time or that I was more anxious running Chicago Marathon a second time, they ask why? Fear of the known. It is one thing to fear the unknown, but it is different to live through a struggle then be willing to live through it again. Midway through last year's marathon, Kimberly informed me of the pace at which we were running and I started freaking it out. I was not suppose to run that fast. I was not going to have enough to finish this race. I doubted myself. When Jennifer took over the responsibilities of guiding, I received a boost from her as well as the screaming fans along charity mile including the folks from Imerman Angels who were yelling for Sexy Isra. Still, a few miles down the road, I could no longer fight off my doubts. I started to walk. The pain was too much. Eventually, I was able to run for a bit then walk. I kept that going for many miles. Kimberly and Jen pushed me along encouraging me to keep running. They insisted I not walk. At one point at about mile twenty-two when I wanted to slow down and even walk, neither woman would allow me. They insisted I keep running. I shut my eyes and wondered to myself, "Why am I doing this?" I had already completed one marathon. I knew the pain and misery it brought so why again? With my eyes still shut, I looked to the heavens and in my mind, I heard her laugh and her voice. A dear friend from college with whom I had some very special fond memories. Cancer made a home inside her body. With courage, toughness, and smiles she fended off cancer. Entering 2011, I heard she was doing much better. she was in great spirits. Suddenly, by the spring, I learned that cancer refused to go away and had not been defeated. In fact, my friend would probably only live another fourteen days. I reached out to her to say thank you for all the memories and to wish her the best as she moved to the next chapter of her spirit's journey. I would never forget her and I would always carry her in my heart. Less than three days later, she was gone. I turned to my friend who first introduced me to her all those many years ago and asked, "What can I do? How can I pay my respects?" All he said was to keep her memory alive forever. As I looked for a way to pay tribute to her, a woman whom I did not know at the time reached out to me and ask if I would run the Chicago Marathon. It was June and I had missed registration. She suggested I join the non profit for which she was running. I thanked her and tweeted that it looks like I was running the marathon for a non profit. I did not mention which one, but I was just thrilled at the chance to run the race for a charity. Then another woman I did not know reached out via Twitter to suggest Imerman Angels One-On-One Cancer Support. Imerman Angels pairs up cancer fighters with cancer survivors who are mentor angels. These Angels are of the same gender, age, background who have survived the exact same cancer as the person with whom they are pair currently fighting the disease. IA believes No One Should Face Cancer Alone. I have seen family members and friends overcome cancer. I have seen how a community of loved ones join together to support them. I also realize that I can provide all the support in the world to these family members and loved ones, but what I can not give them is a true understanding of their feelings as they deal with the disease and possibly stare death in the face. Sure, I have stared death in the face a couple times in my life, bit it was not due to cancer. Thankfully, I do not know what that feels like. Unfortunately, many others do. I do know how helpless I felt not being able to do more for those with cancer. I know the empty feeling of not being able to save my friend as cancer ate her body and took her from all of us at such a young age. There are people in the world who can assist during these times. Other cancer survivors can provide that insight I can not. I can help that happen by raising funds for Imerman so that a mentor angel can help someone through the process of fighting cancer. I could not help my friend directly, but I can run 26.2 miles while raising money and awareness for the work Imerman Angels does so that my efforts will result in someone's friend, wife, mother, sister, brother, husband,, or father receive a mentor angel who could then give wisdom and most important of all, hope! I could not save my friend, but I can honor her by running mile after mile so others will be helped. So in that moment at around mile twenty-two when everything hurt on my body, I thought of my friend and realized all the pain I am enduring to run 26.2 does not even begin to compare to the pain she endured as cancer destroyed her body. I thought of the words of my friend, Ironman triathlete and race director, Patty G, "Suck it up, cupcake." So I did. With the help of Kimberly and Jenny I then pressed on and made my way across that Chicago Marathon finish line for the second consecutive year. Now ready for my third marathon, I am scared, but I know I am prepared. I also know that so long as I do my best I will be fine for I carry my friend's voice, laughter, and memory in my heart. As I did last year I have been racing and fundraising for Imerman Angels in 2012. In order for Imerman Angels to provide a cancer fighter and mentor angel connection, it costs about $350. For me to raise $750 would mean I could help bring four people together or help Imerman make two connections. The work Imerman does is truly special. I am honored they have allowed me the chance to run and raise funds for them the last two years. I know the individuals who have cancer and are given hope and the motivation to fight through their struggle are grateful for the services IA provides. Once again, I will run for my friend on Sunday. I will run while being grateful that I was privileged to know her for fifteen years. I will run for Imerman. I have my sights set on another marathon personal best which will shatter the marathon best I set last year. If you believe in my ability at the marathon distance and especially, if you believe in my cause, please visit my page and donate. Thank you!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Marathon For Imerman Angels

On Sunday, I will run in my third consecutive Chicago Marathon. I will be running it for Imerman Angels for the second straight year. Last year, a dear friend passed away at the hands of cancer. She was so talented, beautiful, and amazing. She was too young. I have had several family members and friends who have faced cancer and each one survived. When my friend did not, I wanted to pay my respect. I would think about how I could do so, but an opportunity never materialized until I was approached on Twitter by a woman who was a part of Imerman Angels. IA provides one-on-one cancer support by pairing up a cancer sufferer with a mentor angel who has survived the exact same type of cancer. The mentor angel is of the same gender, age, and background too. From what cancer sufferers have stated, this helps tremendously with identification, understanding, and support. When someone of the same age or gender can speak to the exact same experience of cancer, it gives the current sufferer hope and potential glimpse into his or her future post cancer. The work IA does is so important and I feel is at the very least, a small way in which I can help honor my friend who passed away while also reminding my other friends who survived that you are also always in my heart.

If you would be so kind as to visit my fundraising page and making a small donation, I would be grateful for your support of my effort. It may be just that extra motivation I will need come Sunday in those late miles through the streets of Chicago.