People like to say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." I am of the belief, if it is good make it great. If it is great do what you can to sustain excellence. There is not a reason to wait until something is broken. Waiting until then makes one reactive as oppose to proactive. I say this because there have been times in my life where I was reactive instead of proactive. There have been times I wait until something is not going my way to change. As everyone else, I also use the end of the year to reflect on that which is concluding as well as look towards the next year while determine my goals and dreams which I wish to realize.
Many of my resolutions will carry over from 2012 as I improved from 2011 and wish to build on that this next year. Some of my resolutions are meant for me to dig a bit deeper in my soul and finally decide to take a risk on myself. Each year, I have a few of those. Some of them do take place while others I find myself putting it on the list yearly.
Before I begin 2013, I take a step back to say thank you to the men and women who made this year memorable. Because of you, I achieved more than I ever thought. Because of you I aimed higher than I ever dreamed possible.
Thank you to you who follow my blog. I always try to name you individually, but as the list of followers and readers grow, I find it almost impossible to memorize each of you so as you read this, please know I am talking about YOU! I hope you continue to read my work in the future.
When I began this year, the first race I did was Houston Half Marathon. The fabulous, Jennifer Pfaff, agree to fly to Houston to guide me for what turned out to be a twenty-seven minute personal record as I crossed the finish in 1:57:23. Almost immediately, I wanted the challenge of running faster. Before I ran another event, I reached out to the amazing, Jenna Parker, to ask this tremendous pro triathlete, model, and actress to prepare me to race. Truthfully, I had never learned to train or race. Whatever I do, I attempt to become a student of that arena, but there is only so much one can learn by reading and asking questions. If I will ask for help from someone, it might as well be one of the best athletes, competitors, and women out there who has achieved at the highest level. By my next race, I was doing better. I improved my ten mile personal record by six minutes when I crossed the finish of the Soldier Field 10 for the third consecutive year, but there was more to do especially now with Jenna steering the Sexy Isra ship in the correct direction.
The month of June saw me return to Pleasant Prairie Duathlon where I improved my overall time by three minutes, but the story of the day was learning that I had finished number two in my division which gave me my first ever podium as I raced on the Dare2Tri chicago paratriathlon Club which was founded by my friends, Keri Schindler, Melissa Stockwell, and others. My first ever podium all thanks to Jenna!
My friend, Andrew was champing to guide me for a race so we agreed to race the Southshore Tri together. Part of a relay, I ended up doing the 20K bike leg and the 5K run leg. The first eight miles on the bike were directly into a headwind. The rest of the route took us into a stiff crosswind. I pedaled like never before. By the time I dismounted in transition, I was not sure of my bike split or whether it was good enough to be my best ever 20K bike time, but I knew I had given it my all like never before. there are races where afterwards, I reflect on it and wish I could have certain portions to do over again, but I knew in my heart, there was nothing about the bike I would change. As it turns out, it was only the third fastest bike split I had ever delivered, but it does not change my feeling that I gave it everything I had and I would not change anything. Within a few hundred meters of the run, I could tell I was physically and emotionally spent. I was turning my legs, but they felt like stones. I did not even feel like I was running. Everything hurt. At one point, I opened my mouth prepared to tell Andrew that I wanted to walk to the side of the road, find a grassy area, and sit down. I wanted the quickest way to end this pain. I have never felt like this in a race. I have been tired and spent, but this was different. I felt empty. When we reached the first mile marker, Andrew informed me we had run that mile in nine minutes. I was shocked! There have been races where I am fresh and I can not run nine minute miles yet there I was ready to fold up my tent yet running faster than I realized. I pushed ahead and by the final mile along the famed Chicago Lakeshore Drive, Andrew was guiding me to the strongest finish I had ever experienced as we ran the last mile one minute faster than the first one.
That finish was Jenna's work shining through my performance. The next time it shined through was September's Ready To Run 20 Miler when Andrew guided me for the first half were we eased to a comfortable ten miles before Jennifer Pfaff took over. Jenna had give me a game plan which Jen and I were poised to follow, but as she took over guiding duties, there was a part of me which wanted to show her that I was in better shape than I had ever been. I wanted to show her that the work with Jenna was paying off. Within a quarter mile, I turned it on. As Jen told me our pace, I grew in confidence. Usually, I get scared, but on this day, I was up for the challenge. We kept pushing the pace until about 1.5 miles from the finish when I was truly tired and wanting to slow down. Jen was not going to let me. she insisted I was training to run not jog or walk. She also told me to consider the disappointment Jenna would feel. I did not want to cause that disappointment so I pushed my way passed so many people down the stretch to run my fastest race mile ever!
Jenna helped me podium and set PRs in every race. How about helping me prepare so that I could follow up last year's Chicago Marathon with an even better performance? Last year, I ran it in 4:50:20 which was thirty-six minutes faster than my previous marathon. It was also good enough to qualify me for the Boston Marathon in the Blind/Visually Impaired category where one need only run a certified marathon in under five hours. Still, I wanted to BQ again with a faster time. I would love under four hours. Joining elite marathoner, Jennifer Pfaff, as my guide was Ironman Triathlete, Kimberly Shah. Kim and Jen had helped me in 2011 so I wanted them again for this attempt. The first half was a breeze, the second was much tougher, but I managed to gut out a splendid personal best by running what then became my fastest ever race mile in my final mile to cross the finish line in 3:58.
Without Jenna or any of my guides, I would never accomplish any of my athletic achievements. Similarly, without those friends who believe in my writing, I would never move forward in that arena. For many years, I have turned to a fabulous writer, actress, and singer, Marrielle for help. She provides me such wonderful critical feedback on my plays and screenplays which help me write better drafts. One of my favorite memories took place several years ago when talented screenwriter, Michelle Amor who wrote Of Boys And Men, Playin' for Love, and other films requested to read a copy of my In the Dark play. She said she puts all scripts through a one line test. If the piece does not grab her in the first line, she knows it is not worth her time. A story does not suddenly get good because a writer does not suddenly find talent. She read my play's first line and ended up reading the entire script in one sitting. She insisted I turn the theater piece into a film. I had considered it, but it was not until such a respected writer demanded it did I finally sit down to do so. Marrielle and Michelle were the ones to whom I always turned for feedback on the script. I finally decided to step outside my comfort zone after rewriting the film script in the hopes of attracting Jenna Parker to it. I sent it to her and she enjoyed the piece. Around the same time I reached out to my dear friend, NYC based TV and film producer, Brendan Hermes in the hopes he would read it. He did and raved about it. I hear people compare their work to other famous established work. I never do that, but when Brendan told me it reminded him of a certain Oscar winning film which people love, I knew that maybe just maybe, Michelle, Marrielle, Jenna, and Brendan were correct about this script. I then remembered a comment I received from Jim Czarnecki, producer of Fahrenheit 911, Capitalism: A Love Story, and other such films who said about my In The Dark film, "You have a story you need to tell and Hollywood needs to make." Because of my friends especially, Brendan and Jenna, I decided to submit the script to Zoetrope as part of the annual competition put on by Francis Coppola and George Lucas' Zoetrope Studios. I do not know its fate and will not know until six weeks from now, but the belief by these individuals gave me the confidence to take a risk. I am so thrilled that I even went that far with it. It does warm my heart to read a comment from a friend, energy alignment healer, Dr. therese Rowley who wrote she is excited about finally seeing Jenna on the big screen helping bring my story to life. Is that her being supportive or could that be a sign from the universe of what might be in stored in 2013? My fingers are crossed.
One of my favorite people in the world is author, Jen Knox whose work is simply amazing. I have often posted links to her published work here. I find her to be a fascinating woman with a tremendous talent. Recently, she inspired me to try my hand at Flash Fiction. Although I have not yet done so, I plan to submit some of my work for feedback to Jen. she was the one who inspired me and it would only be fitting that she be the first to read my work to determine where I stand in that field. I am so grateful that Jen not only introduced me to the rules of flash fiction, but has been encouraging and supportive pushing me to write them. I can not wait to send her what I have and hopefully she will like my work. It would crush me if someone whom I respect tremendously does not like my work. I am doing my best to give my best possible work so at the very least, she will see that there is something there which can be published to the world. That is definitely something I would like to attempt in 2013. That is to get some work published. I use to try writing novels, but after writing plays and screenplays, I just could no longer be disciplined enough to write them. Jen has me inspired to attempt once more. Maybe these short pieces will be the springboard to longer work. If so, I will have Jen Knox to thank!
Thank you again to all of you for making 2012 a very special one. I can not express my appreciation enough for the way each of you has changed my life. I hope you know I will forever love you! I am inspired and moved by you. I am driven to become a better athlete and artist because of you. Thank you for what you have done to make me a better person, brother, friend, lover, son, and uncle. I look forward to more.