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!!

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