Friday, August 17, 2012

C-Different for 140.6 Miles

Imagine training 20 plus hours a week for months while maintaining a full time job leaving little time for yourself and family for an event that involves a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run.  Suppose you run this race but your efforts are not recorded and if someone were to search for you as a participant, it’s as if you weren’t there.  Well who and what I am describing is our next hero Justin Sternberg and the Ironman Triathlon.

You see Justin’s full time job is as a TV producer with Channel 13.  Before he ever trained for an event he was out in the cold covering the Houston Marathon.  If you are not running the marathon, which is held in January, most likely you are shivering while watching it.  Justin’s job was to relay the leaders times back to our experts on the set.  This is when Justin first considered running the marathon.  He thought in order to “get out” of covering the Houston Marathon as a producer for Channel 13, he would have to run it.  Well, I don’t know about you but I think most people might ignore this thought and think it was a delusion.  Isn’t this how it can be when we get a dream for our lives, we brush it off;  but this story about Justin hopefully will teach us not to discount it but to fulfill it?

Justin first began training for the ½ marathon, which is 13.1 miles. After completing it, Justin would describe his time as “horrendous”.  But he was now on a quest to go for the full marathon and improve his time. In 2010 he qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hr. and 11 minutes knocking 1 ½ hours off of previous times.

During this time Justin began producing all of the Houston marathon’s post marathon stories.  One that inspired Justin was a story of Charlie Plaskon, a visually impaired, 75 yr. old grandfather that was “guided” through the Ironman Triathlon.  He was so inspired that he began training for the Ironman and became involved with the C-Different Foundation.  C-Different was founded to inspire visually impaired people around the world to lead active and healthy lives. By connecting them with sighted guides and involving communities to support their endeavors.  Additionally, CDF seeks to inspire and educate others through the telling of the stories and circumstances of their athletes and their guides.

Justin had the opportunity to guide Charlie through a 30K after meeting Matt Miller, the founder of C-Different.  Then in 2011 a week and a half out from the first ever Ironman Texas out in The Woodlands, he was asked to guide Charlie through his 7th full Ironman.  While tethered to Charlie, as Justin explains it, it was Charlie that inspired him to complete his first Ironman!  But if you look for Justin’s name, you won’t find it, because he is solely Charlie's guide.  Justin and other guides like him, are encouraged and inspired by the applauding crowds during these events; yet find their satisfaction of helping someone like Charlie achieve his dreams, all the while sacrificing their own personal efforts.  You will, however, find Charlie’s name, as he completed his 7th Ironman.

Justin is such an inspiration, to me, he defines self-sacrifice and encourages each of us to reach deeper and give just a little more of ourselves.  Justin explains that, as a guide, you start to see obstacles on the road that you normally would ignore but they become a hazard for the visually impaired.  It reminds me of how life is and once you start to C-Different you want to guide others to do the same.  So I encourage you to get involved in this wonderful foundation either financially or as a guide and support Justin’s efforts in his next Ironman as he will be competing to raise awareness and funds for the C-Different organization. If you click on the link you can see a picture of Charlie and Justin during the Ironman Texas 2011.  Go Justin!

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