My last ten mile race was the 2012 Soldier Field 10. I finished in 1:39:55. I planned to return in 2013 to set a new personal best, but in the spring of 2013, I qualified for the Paratriathlon USA National Championships held the same weekend as Soldier Field 10. I won the National Championship for Paratriathlon Tri6A Males. Entering 2015, I still had not set a new ten mile best. I chose the Live Grit Lakefront 10 on April 18. Ironman triathlete/elite marathoner, Ryan Nord offered to guide me. I contacted Chicago Area Runners Association’s Road Race/Volunteer Service Coordinator, Matthew Perez, who worked with Ryan and me to ensure we would run Live Grit Lakefront 10.
Race day. Jenna Parker had given me my race instructions and it was time for Ryan and I to execute it. We arrived an hour before the event. We chatted with Ryan’s friend, Jeremy.. Minutes before the race, Gillian Fealy, Live Grit owner made an announcement. Starting gun sounded. We crossed the line.
I planned to take it easy during the opening half then push to negative split the race. I used the first mile to warm up and loosen my legs. Ryan said we were on pace for an 8:15 opening mile. We reached mile one in 8:26. I hoped to maintain 8:30 through the first five miles. Mile two was slower. Mile three even slower. I took deep breaths. I was concerned that my pace had slowed to 8:50. On the bright side, it would be easier to negative split the race. Ryan said to enjoy the easy pace because we would start pushing at the midway point building to a mad dash final few miles.
We reached the halfway mark in forty-four minutes plus. On pace for an eleven minute best. Ryan had me push gently. 8:30 for mile six. Jenna Parker would want me to crush these final four miles. I mentally prepared to embrace the pain and run through it. Mile seven complete. Ryan said, “Whatever you’ve got left, I want you to leave it out here.”” I ran strong. The wind howled in my face. My heart sank. Then I remembered running the Houston half Marathon with Jen Pfaff a few years ago on a cold, rainy, windy day. I smashed my 13.1 mile personal best by cutting through that wind. Time for the same. I turned over my legs. I opened my stride. Race on!
Mile eight complete. Time to close the show. Halfway through mile nine on a 7:45 pace. We finished that mile in 8:07. Final mile. Back to 7:45. 7:30. 7:15. We hit 7:04. Could I get under seven? “6:58. You’re crushing this!” We turned into a tunnel. I slowed down. Out of the tunnel. I ran hard. Ryan rejoiced, “6:50!” A few hundred meters remained. One last charge.
After crossing the finish, a beautiful woman asked, “Are you Sexy Isra?” I said yes. I asked her name, but she walked away. Ryan and I thanked Gillian Fealy of Live Grit. I spoke to my favorite public address announcer, Dave Kappas. My official time was 1:25:22. Thank you Ryan Nord for being my eyes. Thank you Matthew Perez at Chicago Area Runners Association. Thank you Gillian Fealy of Live Grit. Thank you Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring me. Thank you to my friend and coach, Jenna Parker.