I entered 2014 with a couple important athletic goals. I wanted to repeat as the USA Triathlon Paratriathlon National Champion in the category for blind and visually impaired men. I wanted to run my final marathon by breaking three hours and thirty minutes. Along the way I would make more memories than I even dreamed possible. As it turned out, I made plenty of memories with some of the most wonderful individuals. As for achieving those goals? 2014 proved to be a year to expect the unexpected.
The lovely Jen Pfaff insisted she and I travel to Boston to run the marathon. What better year to do so than this one. Two months before race day, I suffered one of the first major injuries I have ever had to endure which made training difficult until one month prior to Boston Marathon. Still, my friend and coach, pro triathlete, model, and actress, Jenna Parker insisted I should go. Thank you to Jen Pfaff for being my eyes all weekend long. We had the joy of running with former New Kids On The Block members Joe McIntyre and Danny Wood who encouraged me while back slapping Jen. I met and had lunch with the lovely, Sarah Koenig. I qualified for Boston for the fourth consecutive time. It was not the time goal I had hoped, but it was a race to remember.
In June, I attended the Dare2Tri Triathlon Camp where I met some tremendous individuals who have gone on to be some of my dearest friends. A week before I was to race in the ITU Worlds Chicago Open Wave I learned that I had been moved to the Elite Wave and would represent the USA once more in an international race. Daniel Tun guided me as I struggled in the water and on the technical bike course, however the highlight of the day was when fabulous announcer, Dave Kappas, told the spectators, “Coming out of T2 is Chicagoan Israel Antonio. Israel dominates these streets every year in the marathon so he knows these streets like the back of his hand. I’ll be interested to see his mile splits because he is fast so keep an eye on him.”
In July, I had one of my best bike performances at the Wauconda Triathlon. It was hilly, but my guide, Todd Nelson said I was like the little engine that could where I just kept coming. It was a tough race because a few days prior I had fallen down the stairs then was later injured when my arm smashed into a gate. I managed to get through the race and was set for a return trip to the Mideast Regional Championships.
In August, I raced in fort Wayne for the first time at the Fox Island Triathlon host of the Paratriathlon Mideast Regional. I had won my division in 2013 when the race was part of the Chicago Triathlon. Daniel Tun once again agreed to be my eyes. I met and spent time with the beautiful, Amanda. for the first time ever in the swim, I stayed on my stomach the entire time never resorting to the back stroke. It was the most satisfying swim leg I had ever experienced on route to my second consecutive championship. Before August came to an end, I appeared on a segment of the ABC Chicago news. The second time I had appeared as in June, I was interviewed after the ITU Worlds race. this time it was for the Chicago Triathlon at the end of the month.
In September, I was set to race at Paratriathlon Nationals for the second straight year. Could I repeat as a Nationals Champion? Could I improve on my time from a year ago? A week before Life Time Tempe, I warmed up with my guide, Todd Smith by tackling North Shore Triathlon. 400 meters from the finish, I took a tumble bruising my ribs and forearm. For days I could not run. Three days before Life Time Triathlon in Tempe, I made the tough choice to back out of the National Championship. I hoped doing so would allow me to heal for my next shot at 3:30:00 at the Chicago Marathon. A third segment featuring me air on ABC7 Chicago at the end of September.
In October, Wendy Jaehn and Erica Alansari volunteered to be my eyes for the Chicago Marathon. These beautiful and fast women helped me qualify for Boston for the fifth consecutive time, but my ribs were still so injured that I could only run my third fastest 26.2.
The athletic season concluded having not seen me achieve the goals I set out. I did repeat at the Mideast Regionals, but the other two goals of nationals and marathon eluded me. Injuries and other circumstances prevented me from my goals, but there is always 2015. There is more to do, but I want to thank all those who helped make this year very wonderful. Special thanks to Jenna Parker for always being the fabulous amazing leader who prepares me. Thank you Pinnacle Performance Company for your continued sponsorship. Dare2Tri and Base Performance provided great support too. Thank you to those wonderful friends who guided me during races. There are big things in store for my racing in 2015. There are also pending big announcements for my plays, screenplays, and entrepreneurial ventures which I will share early in January. for now, thank you for reading this post. I hope you will join me for my adventures next year!