In February of 2008, I flew down to Fort Lauderdale to run in the AIA half Marathon. It was my first ever half marathon. 13.1 miles. Prior to that day, I had never run more than 4.7 miles which I ran one week before the race. I had never been a long distance runner. Growing up in my sighted days, I would get out and run like crazy for the five laps required in gym class. I was always the first one to finish my laps. Had the teacher asked me to run longer, I would not have been able. I was a sprinter who would let it all hang out for short bursts. Yet there I was running a half marathon. It was the first event I did as part of the C Different Foundation. Founder, Matt Miller, had personally called the day after Christmas and asked me to do him the personal favor of flying down to run in the event. I did not know Matt beyond several e-mail exchanges, but I felt a sense of loyalty to the man who had embraced me a few months prior when I reached out to him to inquire about joining the athletes of his foundation. Matt was requesting I be a part of his team. I could not say no. After all, I wanted to meet this tremendous triathlete, model, actor, spokesperson, film producer, and roofer. After all the magazine articles had painted a picture in my mind of this man, I needed to see it for myself.
It was a wonderful experience. My finish time was 2:57. It was a far cry from those days in gym class. I believe my fastest mile that day was an eleven minute mile. I kept telling everyone that I was not ready and that if I was properly prepared I could run faster. I had done it before. I use to have sight. I use to run very fast. The truth was none of that matter. Maybe I used that as an excuse to make myself feel better, but these people did not know whether that was true. They did not have to believe me. More important, I could not live in the past because all that mattered was whether I would improve to run faster.
Over the years, I have participated in half marathons, full marathons, and triathlons with and for C Different Foundation, Dare2Tri Chicago, and Imerman Angels. In that time, I have met some wonderful individuals who have pushed me to improve. Of course, one of those who has remained one of my biggest supporters is good friend, Matt, who was the first one to make me realize that when I toe the line at the start of a race, there is more on the line than I realize. Not only do I owe it to myself to run as fast as I can, but I owe to my artistic self to be the best I can be. I never quite put it together until Matt explained how the better and faster I get the more people will take notice and ask, who is Israel? What does he do? That is when they will learn I write plays and screenplays. That is when they will want to learn more and possibly, read my work. In some way, being better at road races and triathlons will give me "street cred" for my writing. Again, I never thought that was the case until Matt explained it so clearly.
The half marathons I have completed since that first one have seen me bring down my time to more respectable levels. When I ran the Houston half Marathon in January of 2012, I completed it twenty-seven minutes faster than my previous fastest time. With the help of talented elite marathoner, Jennifer Pfaff, for the first time ever, I finished 13.1 miles in under two hours crossing the finish in 1:57. The most significant result of that race was that more than ever, I was hungry to achieve more. If that is what I could do while not truly knowing what to do, imagine what I could achieve with proper guidance in my training. I turned to the best person who I knew could get the best out of me. A woman who has achieved at the highest elite level. I turned to pro triathlete, model, and actress, Jenna Parker to teach me to train so I could learn to race.
Ten days after Chicago Marathon where Kimberly Shah and Jen Pfaff guided me to a 3:58 finish, attention turned to my next event. Houston half Marathon. Having spent one season under the watchful eye of Jenna, it was time to begin the next season to improve on 2012. The most important factor for me deciding on a return trip to the state of Texas is that Jen Pfaff wanted to guide me for that race again. she wanted us to go break my personal record once more. When the opportunity to run on the C Different Team presented itself, it was a done deal. This weekend, Jen and I will attempt to break my best time. I will attempt to improve and show that I am getting faster. I have only my friends to thank. Those friends who believe and support me. My friends are the reasons I push myself. If I succeed, it is because of them. when I fail, it falls 100% on me. I hope you will follow my effort this Sunday. If not, I will post a race report early next week. Of course, stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter where you can see updates.
Thank you Jenna Parker for preparing me for this race. I am so physically ready for this challenge. I hope I am mentally ready to push my limits like never before in order to crush my personal best. Thank you to Jen for being my guide runner. Special shout out to Pinnacle Performance Company who is set to send out a press release announcing that they have jumped on board for 2013 as my first ever official corporate sponsor. I appreciate the interest and belief they have in me to continue to push myself so that maybe one day, I can actually achieve something special in athletics. With support from my friends, I am confident I will.