Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Dare To Dream To Dare2Tri

Earlier today, I registered for the CapTex Triathlon which will be held on Memorial Day. I am excited to be racing in the event for a couple of reasons. As some readers know, Dare2Tri Chicago Paratriathlon Club announced the roster for the 2013 Elite Team earlier this week. The name Israel Antonio appeared on the list. This is the first year I made it to the Elite Team for the Dare2Tri organization. When I received the e-mail and read my name, I was overtaken with emotion. To my surprise, I started to cry. I was so moved by being selected that I could not contain my excitement. I remembered the very first triathlon I did in July 2008. I remembered how scared I was jumping into the Hudson River for the very first time. I recalled what it felt like to be on the bike then running around Central Park. I thought of that feeling when I crossed the finish line for the first time ever. It truly was a case of my surviving by the skin of my teeth. I knew I had to prepare better. As much as I wanted to do so, I never did prepare the right way. I never learned how to prepare. that is, until I reached out to the talented pro triathlete, model, actress, Jenna Parker. She taught me how to go about getting ready for races. I found myself improving with each race. Truthfully, I started improving with each session. To think that with her help, I was able to strengthen my bike and run so much that when I raced in the C Different Triathlon At Telfair in March, I was able to overcome coming out of the swim in last place in my division and finish in first. Apparently, I was able to impress Emmy Award winning writer/producer and Ironman Triathlete, Justin Sternberg enough to say he wishes to guide me in future races. I believe that it was that event which landed me on the Dare2Tri Elite Team for this year. To think that I could improve one discipline let alone two disciplines, bike and run, to the point that I was named to this team this year is what caused me to cry.

From the day Keri Schindler informed me of the Dare2Tri club coming into existence, I was excited to be a part of it. I have been lucky enough to do some events with the group. I have met some wonderful people as a result of my association with the Dare2Tri organization. These are athletes and human beings whom I respect tremendously. Because of Keri Schindler, I ran my first ever marathon in 2010 when I did so on Team GLASA. Whenever I have done 5Ks or duathlons, Keri has helped me find a guide if I needed one. Melissa Stockwell is an Iraq War veteran, above the knee amputee, and current three time defending World Champion in Paratriathlon. Words can not begin to express to the extent I venerate her. My dear friends Todd Smith, Kristine White, Lauren Wong, Mike Wong, and others came into my life as a result of Keri and Melissa. In fact, after a race last season, Mike asked me what was my half marathon personal record. When I told him, he responded, "Oh come on Is, I've seen you out on that course. You're much more talented than that. You can run much faster." To now be on the Elite Team along side melissa, Mike, and others is such a joy which tickles me endlessly. The fact that I could be considered elite on any level of measurement in the sport of triathlon is something which I still can not believe. I have improved so much I still have a way to go in my growth as a triathlete, but I take this moment to celebrate the distance I have already traveled to this point. I admit, I am someone who spends so much time focussing on the destination that I never stop to appreciate the journey. I never take a pause believing I will have time at a later date yet that later date does not arrive since I quickly move to focus on the next order of business. That is why I wanted to take this time to say thank you to those who read about my journey when I post my entries here. Thank you to Jenna to helping grow as a triathlete. Thank you to Keri, Melissa, and the co-founders of Dare2Tri Chicago.

I look forward to sporting the Dare2Tri uniform at CapTex on Memorial Day as I join some of the most talented para athletes in the world at the National Championship held as part of that race. There are some very talented folks about whom I have read over the years. There are some wonderful folks with whom I have been friends for many years who tell me about their experiences at Nationals and Worlds. For the first time ever, I will have the chance to be a part of their stories when I toe the start line to race with and against them for a chance to podium and earn a spot at Worlds. Me? Sexy Isra? Yes!! That very gentleman who never knew what it would take to get here and who never thought he could get here. Yes, that gentleman has officially registered for Nationals.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dare2Tri Chicago 2013 Elite Team

John Walsh, best known as the host of America's Most Wanted, a program which aired on the Fox network for the better part of twenty years use to say, "One person can make a difference." The founders of the Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club believe similarly. Now in its third season of racing, members of Dare2Tri race with the motto, One Inspires many. From the current three time defending national and world champion, Melissa Stockwell to the first time triathlete, every member of the team gives it her or his best to chase dreams and live a fulfilling athletic life. Dare2Tri announced its Elite Team for the 2013 season. The members of this team are some of the best athletes in the country and world. A gander at their individual race results and awards proves that to be the case. Often, members of Dare2Tri's Elite Team are seen finishing first, second, and third at various events around the country. Whether it is triathlons or duathlons, they shine brightly as they inspire many fellow athletes along the way. Congratulations to the following individuals who make up the Dare2Tri Chicago Elite Team for 2013! All who will race in various categories from T1 through T6 at the Paratriathlon Nationals which will be held as part of CapTex Triathlon on memorial Day, May 27, 2013. Those talented enough to finish in the top three of their respected divisions will then represent the USA at Worlds in London in the fall. Congratulations to Dare2Tri Elite Team members. Dare2Tri will definitely inspire many more people, athletes, and spectators this coming season. May you get a chance to see Dare2Tri Elite Team members race. May you get the opportunity to meet and greet the members.
Melissa Stockwell, Tri2
Hailey Danisewicz, Tri2
Diana Helt, Tri1
Mike Wong, Tri4
Megan O'Neil, Tri1
Andre Cilliars, Tri4
Levi Kane, Tri2
Brian Norberg, TBD (Tri3 or Tri4)
Israel Antonio, Tri6
Meghan Fisher, Tri5
Howie Sanborn, Tri1

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013: The Human Spirit

It is a beautiful day to test your pace. It is a beautiful day to run a race. Such was the case on Monday as 23,000 of the 27,000 runners who qualified toed the start line at the famed Boston Marathon. It was a day to celebrate. Some of the best professionals in the world go to Boston to test themselves and each other. Even those in the back of the pack are faster than most people can ever wish to be. On Patriot's Day, all eyes are on Boston. The city shuts down to enjoy the midday Red Sox game and the running warriors going 26.2 miles. Someone or some others planned to mar the yearly festivities. Through the senseless act of terror, this person or these people succeeded. Yet, when people discuss Boston 2013, it will not only be remembered for this disgusted act of violence delivered to the victims, it will be remembered as a moment in time when once more, family, friends, and strangers stared fear in the face and displayed why good will forever triumph in the face of evil. The human spirit! Doctors, lawyers, machinists ran their race then jumped into action to help their fallen fellow runners. They put themselves in harm's way to ensure spectators, who just minutes prior were cheering loudly, would be taken to safety. Police and medical personnel are trained to go towards danger even as everyone else runs away from it. Yet, it never gets easier. Training and protocol can only prepare one so much. Nothing can truly prepare a human for seeing blood cover the streets, bodies ripped into pieces, or fear in the eyes of another person. When danger presents itself, none of that matters. All that matters is helping another human being as best as possible. Equally heroic are those individuals who do not have the professional training nor preparation, but throw caution to the wind as they jump into the danger to help. Runners who had just completed 26.2 miles were flying to the scene to carry folks into the medical tent. What possessed them to do so? The human spirit.

Those who lost their lives will never be forgotten. Those who lost their limbs will be forced to adjust to a new way of life. It will not be easy. Not every day will be a picnic. Not every day will be misery. They will have to confront good and bad days, but they shall over come because that is what the human spirit does. It can not be denied. No matter how physically or mentally strong one believes himself to be or not be, the human spirit is much stronger. Those runners, spectators, and first responders will forever be connected. In the same way each member of society is connected. Whatever political or religious view whatever gender whatever occupation in whatever nation, all human beings are more similar than many believe. On days like April 15, 2013, the eyes of the world turn to Boston. They do not just witness a marathon. They do not witness chaos caused by terror. They witness the human spirit on display as evidence that as a society good will forever triumph over evil. The human spirit will never be denied.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kick Off The Season: Play For A Reason

Nine years ago today, a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq. The convoy which was heading down the road was under attack. The brave men and women battled the attackers. When the gunfire went silent, soldiers were wounded. Lives were changed. For one heroic woman, this meant she would never have her leg. Melissa Stockwell became the first American woman wounded in battle during the Iraq War on April 13, 2004. She lost her leg and became an above the knee amputee, but on that day, the world gained a new inspiration. Eventually, Melissa made it back to the US and began her rehab. Always an active person, Melissa could no longer hike and plays sports as she use to do with two legs. As it turned out, Melissa could participate in sports at an even higher elite level like never before. Melissa began to race triathlons. In her first race, she qualified for the PC National Championships. She flew to New York and won the title. She then went to World Championships and stormed home to the crown. Since then, Melissa refuses to lose as she has won the National and World titles each of the last three years. To take it a step further, she joined forces with other talented athletes and coaches to create the Dare2Tri Chicago Paratriathlon Club which works to provide resources and opportunity to military veterans with physical disabilities and visual impairments to race in triathlons. Dare2Tri believes that One Inspires Many. Melissa Stockwell is one who does just that. For the last couple years, the organization has also witnessed other D2T athletes qualifying for Nationals and finishing in the top three at Worlds. Dare2Tri is a non profit organization which relies on volunteers and contributions for the ability to provide race guides, handlers, and other equipment for the athletes with wide ranging disabilities. One of the most important ways that Dare2Tri raises funds is through their annual Play For A Reason event. Melissa and the rest of the Dare2Tri Chicago athletes benefit greatly from people buying tickets and attending the fun event. Dare2Tri uses the money raised to kick off the season with training camps and practices. Dare2Tri must call upon friends, family, and volunteers in order to do what they do. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to attend Dare2Tri's event.

Play For A Reason will be held on Sunday, April 14 between 2p and 5p at Dave And Busters. Games, food, and drinks will be provided. Prizes will be auctioned and some will be given away to lucky winners. Anyone who attends may have a chance to walk away with an entry to the sold out Bank Of America Chicago Marathon, Trek Bicycle road bike, or American Girl doll. Plus there will be even more. Tickets can be purchased at the following link:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Helmet For Heroes

Team Red White and Blue is a non profit which works to help US military men and women adjust back to civilian life through the use of athletic and social activities. Team RWB has been branching out everywhere in every city as they continue to grow and enter the lives of so many service men and women who have given so much to this country. The triathlon world has taken notice and many of the best professional triathletes in the world have joined together and signed a Wingspan II Helmet which was donated by the famed Rudy Project in order to benefit Team RWB. You can check out the helmet, see the names of those who have signed it, and big on the item. Remember, it goes to a wonderful cause. Some of the names which appear on the helmet include; Chrissie Wellington, Laura Bennett, Greg Bennett, amanda Lovato, Michael Lovato, Craig Alexander, Jessica Jacobs, Mirinda Carfrae, and several others. Please visit the link below and consider putting in a bid for this helmet. The helmet will go to a very lucky deserving person, but you must bid before bidding closes on April 15. that is only a few days to bid on a very cool helmet for a tremendous cause to help out those who defended our freedoms.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Revamped Site From jen Knox

Few things in life are better when writing is at its finest. Those who write magnificently make it look so easy. One such individual is the talented Jen Knox. She would probably say it is not as easy, but she makes it look that way. I marvel at the stories of hers I have read. If you wish to read some of her work, buy her books, or learn more about her, please take the time to visit her new and improved site at the following link. Jen Knox is spectacular!! After you check out her work, you will certainly agree with me.