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.