Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

IT Grand Prix Day 3 – Houston we have a problem; Please solve it IT Pro’s!

June 6th, 2010

Sometimes… you ride a really long flight… and sometimes it lands you in Houston Texas!  On this leg of the IT Grand Prix, our Journey did indeed bring us to Houston Texas!    We got some rest after getting in very late in the evening (after midnight!) and then our morning started off to a fairly fast start… a start which lead us to…

Houston Audobon Society

Welcome to the Houston Audobon Society!    It took us a bit to find the place as our ‘address’ and ‘map’ as it were, took us a little further away than this place which is located off the beaten path, so to speak.    This location is truly a sanctuary within a sanctuary.

A sanctuary within a sanctuary We... are...the...Champions...

The Houston Audobon Society is a close-knit group which does an amazing job of addressing a lot of the challenges which small businesses typically go through.   They had just gotten through a BPOS migration, moving Email and Sharepoint up in to the cloud; this gave them the opportunity to spread their load around outside of having to host everything internally at the mothership so to speak (which is valuable with Hurricane season starting)

However, the real value of this BPOS migration was even more so important in that the physical server they had been running DIED days prior to us showing up! (Wow, if there was ever a need for a series of IT Pro’s, this was definitely it! :))

What became the ultimate value of the event was the sheer fact that, no matter what kind of challenge or problem as an organization they had (above and beyond our ‘defined challenges’) they had the right audience to pursue and answer any and all questions, and get things rolling to not only get a ‘path’ but also get hard actionable items on board at that moment.  There were problems solved, which every one of us was glad to be a part of, and sincerely glad to be able to help! :)

image image

I’m tired and didn’t get as many photos as I would hope – else I would have contributed some of the other content here :)

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Posted in Charity, Education, Evangelist, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (0)

IT Grand Prix Day 2 – No Sleep to Brooklyn, NPowering Students through education!

June 4th, 2010

Wow, let me say that again.  Wow! Welcome to Day 2!    It’s hard to say where Day 2 begins or ends so for the benefit of solving that particular quandary… I’ll start from the moment I woke up, and I took these photos out of my hotel room window!   Isn’t it an absolutely beautiful day?!

image image

We all gathered down in the main lobby bright and early at 8:15AM (For someone who historically is on Chicago time.. that’s 7:15, WTF right?! :))

There we stood, on Camera to find out the official results of Day 1’s competitions, the battle so to speak as we competed at KIPP DC as our Red team Vs the Blue Team (redvsblue) and the Gold and Green teams duked it out at a training facility ByteBack teaching the folks as part of “Back on my Feet”.    So David Elfassy, standing before us delivers the final word.. Red Team Wins! Green Team Wins! Wow! We won! (I was a little shocked, because I –loved- the Powerpoint template which the blue team used!)  However, now.. what do we do? We need to have a Tie-Breaker! Oh my!

Tie-Breaker Challenge

“Find someone running Windows 7 and ask them what their favorite feature is.”

So, we began our hunt to find someone who met this criteria!   Thinking on our feet.. we thought “Let’s head to the closest starbucks!”  As there was one in the hotel there, but no one seemed to have a Laptop!  Add to that… we had 36 minutes to complete this challenge – The first one to complete it, get a photo and get it uploaded would become the winner!

We walked a few blocks away (as I pulled my laptop out and started staging a blog post… :)) To the next nearest Starbucks only to be presented with the following challenge.

  • “I’m sorry I’m running Windows XP”
  • “No.  I have a mac.”
    • Daniel: “You know you can run Windows 7 on a mac!”
    • MacUser: *scorn* *disgust* :)
  • “I’m sorry, no” which was more or less the “I don’t know what you’re selling, but I’m not buying!”

So, this was our first set of challenges… at which point… I did a refresh on the IT Grand Prix site only to find that… they had already posted their Photo! – We were done for! (and we headed back)

Focusing on the fact that the post in a ‘technicality’ only had a photo and not any expression of their ‘favorite’ feature, we were still game and looking for that next Windows 7 User – When qualifying this fact, we were happily informed that they not only got that.. They got it on film! (Go Scott the Videographer! :))

So, taking our lumps so to speak, we offered to castrate ourselves at their feet in respect of their utter domination of the circumstances :)

At this point, we began our Challenge for the day, which involved another puzzle to sort out.  We were given a contact we needed to find, and an obscure formulae to figure out, simple enough!   Well, after careful calculation and rigorous battle (and using the power of LinkedIn instead of solving an actual puzzle…) we were able to find our next destination to go to!

NPower New York - Your mission.  Our Technology. 

Welcome to NPower NY! They had this program called TSC or Technology Service Corps!

TSC offers a free, 18-week intensive IT training program to low-income youth and young adults (ages 18-25), and then places graduates in full-time employment throughout New York City’s nonprofit, business and public sectors. Participants practice their new skills and give back to their communities by performing service internships and volunteer work for area nonprofits.

The program has experienced steady growth since it began, and consistent high (80%) graduation and placement rates. Because of its success, TSC has grown to serve as many as 111 students/year, in a dedicated Brooklyn-based training facility. As part of this evolution, TSC introduced a Microsoft professional certification component for each student. Finally, NPower will soon launch a new three-year plan to begin TSC chapters at other NPower affiliates.

We were fortunate to meet 30 individuals who were graduates of this program, who went on to serve in Internships, and careers in technology.    The enthusiasm and passion these folks brought brought a great smile to all of our faces as we’ve been in the seat they’re sitting in, and it’s nice to help share our experiences as to how we got to where we are today!

We started off our time here with introducing ourselves and then lead into an “Ask the Experts” panel so they could ask any questions as well as so we could share our stories and history with everyone.     The range of our technical and business history ranged with a number of us having started back as far as 1992, and even some epic success stories of excelling to stardom in as few as 5 years!   We ended up learning a lot about each other and ourselves in this little time together, which was one of the most honest and infinitely valuable moments on the trip thus far.

(Because frankly, I’m writing this blog… I’ll share one of my stories :)  I didn’t get the chance to share this full story to the group, bits and pieces sure.. and I also shared some one-on-one or in a one-to-many session with the graduates, so here goes! )

<begin story>

Every one of us on this trip are MCT’s, many of which have been MCT’s for years (a lot of them have been an MCT 11+ years) which is similar to my own experience on the matter.    Back in the 90’s Microsoft had this ‘offer’, whereby if you got your MCSE you would receive the benefit of a TechNet subscription and a number of support incidents FREE for one year!   Okay… I was younger back then… but I wasn’t any less geeky.   The prospect of a TechNet subscription to me was HUGE! MASSIVE! OMFG AMAZING!   So I did it.  In 11 days, I passed 7 Exams from Microsoft and earned myself the MCSE NT 4.0.   Sure, I knew it might do something for my career in the long-term, but in the short term.. I’d be getting me some software+support! (Booyah! :))

Certainly… this isn’t the type of story you hear from other MCSE’s, MCT’s and otherwise.   Although like almost everything in my life… my situation is drastically different.   I had been investing in myself and my knowledge of Microsoft Technologies going back 10 years prior to that point.   This was huge to me, and meant a lot to me; did I know that my initiative, drive and passion would turn around quickly into a rocketing career (which is STILL ROCKETING UPWARD) from doing that? No..   It was all about giving me access to more tools to play with. :)

What happened next though, was my pursuit of the MCT! It was 1998, I thought, wow I would –love- to teach, share and endow those I worked with and consulted in order to help train them and bring them forward, and wanted to become an MCT.    However, I am very literal to the point of fault sometimes (and especially then).  The guidelines for the MCT at the time required a Premium Certification (MCSE/etc) which I HAD! But it also required me to work for a Trainer/training company, something I was not exactly in the capacity to take on board at that time; thus my plan to become an MCT was put on hold.    —————–> FAST FORWARD to 2009!   While spending my time on the Get On The Bus Tour – First tour of Americas… I got to know the entire MSLearning team, and when I raised this legacy 10+ year old concern around becoming an MCT (something I wanted so to do) I was informed… “Yea, we got rid of that requirement ‘x’ years ago”.

There it was… Becoming an MCT was in my grasp!  In fact, more than just being in my grasp, I actually reached out and took hold and subsequently I’ve been an MCT Officially since 2009!

Now, for those of you who know me… you know that personally certification doesn’t mean a whole lot to myself, because I collect certifications like some people collect fine art.    And that analogy is king here, as they are indeed fine art in a manner of speaking; So much effort goes into their creation, and once you acquire them and hold them in your repository you have the experience and knowledge and are able to keep them forever!    However, not all certifications are created equal; and this distinction is important because frankly I don’t have room for EVERY one of my certifications on my business card or signature line.     If you do see my signature or business card you will see two certifications standing Prominent.  MCT and CISSP.


Hey, I’m a security guy, I invested a lot of myself in this… both in the test and the years of required experience to sit this exam, so this means a lot to me.

As a caveat to this, 3-6 months after completing my CISSP which I studied for 6-9 months and read 57 books to prepare for, I finally sat my GED getting the 99th percentile and thus successfully having documentation stating ‘I have a equivalent to a high school diploma’   Yea… That’s right, right after I completed something which people dedicate decades to :)


I think I pretty much explained that here.   Holding the MCT means a real lot to me, it means decades of dedication, education and pursuit; and I am proud to hold it today as I will to hold it for years to come.    It may not be for every one, but for me, it means a real lot, and I hope you are able to make a story for yourself like my very own above. :)

</end story>

So, while my story ended there… the stories of these individuals at NPower in the TSC Program is just going to continue going forward.    It was a great honor to have these fine people take time out of their day in order to come talk with us, listen to us speak, but more importantly to engage our minds and theirs in unison discussing things which we have such a passionate discourse for.    If you’re curious to what extent this was so passionately driven? :) The Red Team was assigned “Virtualization” as the topic of discussion to cover with them.   Just think about it.. Daniel Nerenberg, MVP of Application Virtualization, and me… the poster child for Virtualization ;)   Talk about the Perfecta!

While there were four teams that day, Red, Blue, Gold and Green all “competing” to win the challenge, we all ended up winners that day.   The opportunity to share with the students, and their attention and passion to join us and enable us to talk with them; All of these challenges are in their own right challenging because any single one of us would give our time to help these folks in an instant.   So, thank you so much NPower and Graduates of the TSC Program.   You made our time in NYC not only a productive one, but an amazing one we’re so happy to have been able to share with you!

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Posted in Careers, Certification, Charity, Education, Evangelist, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (2)

IT Grand Prix Day 1 – Application Virtualization taking KIPP DC by storm!

June 2nd, 2010

So here we are kicking off the first official day of the IT Grand Prix in Washington DC!     We were supplied with a USB Key with our puzzle, an Internet connection USB card, and a $500 cash card for our incidentals! Our host David Elfassy gave us a ‘puzzle’ to solve in order to find out which non-profit organization we’re going to be going out to help.    Through deductive reasoning, over-thinking the problem, WAAAY OVER THINKING the problem, and some more deductive reasoning… :) We were able to find the non-profit we would be destined to help!

Our Journey begins... with USB and Credit cards! Hi! Can you see me.. I can see you through the KIPP DC!

Welcome to KIPP DC!

KIPP DC is a network of high-performing, college-preparatory charter schools in Washington D.C., which serve the city’s under-resourced communities. At KIPP DC, there are no shortcuts: outstanding educators, more time in school, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and a strong culture of achievement and support help our students make significant academic gains and continue to excel in high school and college.

But what does that mean to you and me?  They’re a business just like yours and anyone else’s who suffer many of the same challenges we all do.  And one of those challenges is how to manage the demanding needs of students, faculty and staff, while being able to stay strategic, forward thinking and be proactive instead of merely reacting to the future of computing.    The challenge with Daniel Nerenberg and I on the Red Team were helping them work with, was addressing Application Virtualization.  Our esteemed coopetition fellows Gordon Ryan, Andrew Bettany of the Blue Team are helping with a Windows 7 Deployment strategy and plan.

What do you get when you combine IT Pro’s, Non-Profits, Coffee and @cxi?
Application Architecture in a sugar cube! image

Innovative solutions the likes of which can only be explained with stirrer sticks and sugar packets!    If you know anything about me, you know that I love tactile reference of physical infrastructure, solely for the logic that we have the ability to MOVE objects around (unlike a whiteboard where we end up getting messy… and it’s not nearly as cool and impactful)   I felt it might be useful for a layman’s explanation of what I just said, so in simple terms…  I like to play with stuff you can find around you :)

The above picture is an architectural breakdown of application virtualization presented to a user use-case environment.   Basically look at it as the sticks are ‘boundaries’ in the first square picture, that physically shows a single ‘machine’ with applications living inside of it, with all of the constraints and conflicts which also happen to live within that environment.    However, in the second picture, you have a breakdown of applications virtualized into separate packages, yet there’s also a model of shared package layers and abstraction… Lots of abstraction! This video helps explain it a little further!

After our sit down talk and interview with Director of Operations, Edward Han and IT Manager, Adam Roberts we got to work on a plan of how Application Virtualization would help out Kipp DC with their organizational challenges.  

Hard at work, notice Gordo has the SAME expression in both photos?! :) Chuck Norris loves you and wants to bust up your geekness Daniel Nerenberg hard at work!

As you can see here, the Blue Team is hard at work.  I’m not sure if they were working on their slides, or checking out some new Chuck Norris statistic, but nonetheless… We all got down to business creating collateral, producing and providing information which would help out those folks and how it would apply (in our case) to what Application Virtualization with App-V could do for them!

I would be remiss in my duty to not share with you what I shared with them.  Use it in the context of your organization of course (as I will not be sharing the incidentals of their organization here! :))

Microsoft’s Application Virtualization collateral!

And here are a few videos produced by the folks on Sequencing and actually deploying using App-V (or Softgrid for you legacy folks like me :))

Though I’m sure some of you are saying “Hey, what about VMware ThinApp – Why didn’t you talk about that?!”  It’s true.   Our mission was to discuss App-V, fortunately I had Daniel with me who is an MVP in App-V too!  However, so you don’t feel left out, here are a few videos of Deploying VMware ThinApp from start to finish in 20 minutes! – Enjoy! :)

Following this, we wrapped up for the day, grabbed our (heavy) bags, and headed out to where the Bus would take us to our next destination: Marriott Brooklyn Bridge in New York City!

Can we fit more into this outlet? I don't think we should try... I'm sure there's a snake down here somewhere! It's getting hot in here!

However, like the geeks we are… All the way at the back of the bus is… a Power Outlet! … Ooh! Two outlets actually! So the guys had their ‘friendmaker’ power strip multipliers, and we plugged them in, with enough arsenal to run a small business (or even a mid-sized enterprise with the kind of gear we’re sporting! :))   And just so you get a good feel for what we’re looking at here… I’m sitting in the literal hot seat!   See all the cables? Oh wait, what’s that you see? It’s 109.5 DEGREES DOWN THERE?!?!? Yea, it’s pretty hot at my feet :)

Red Team on the Back of the Bus! 

I hope you enjoyed Day 1 – This was only the beginning on this whirlwind adventure tour of madness, insanity, education, and Technology! We’re Technology Focused! :)

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Posted in Charity, Education, Efficiency, Geek, ITGP, Microsoft, Technology, VDI, Virtualization, Windows 7, WTF | Comments (1)

Join our race for Charity and be a Champion for Change in Haiti!

May 22nd, 2010

This is my cross-posted official Red Team Blog post! The original can be found here: Join our race for Charity and be a Champion for Change in Haiti!


Hello! I’m Christopher Kusek! – You may know me in the twitter world as @cxi (Why yes, I do have people come up to me and call me cxi… it’s okay, I don’t find it too weird!)

But there are some lessons to be learned here, both from this blog post, and from the whole of this event.

  1. The first lesson is… Try not to run yourself too thin when you’re at a company conference the week of an event kick off, it will definitely show in your team’s presence :)
  2. The second lesson is, don’t be on an opposing team when you have someone get behind their cause, like ours of NetHope!
  3. And the last lesson is.  Have fun :)

So, what am I saying here? It is definitely time to have a GREAT Time!    For those of you who have first met me through my various blog posts around education, learning, certification, technology centric things… or various Zynga Facebook games – Welcome :)

And for those who do not know me, let me tell you a little about myself :)

I am in few if any ways orthodox, it is not exactly part of my DNA, though it is part of the foundation of my success!    A success I like to transfer and convey on to others.

In my professional life (re: the part that pays the bills so I can enjoy the rest of my life) I’m a Technology Evangelist for the semi-large technology company EMC.     I love my job, and I equally love bringing people over to our company (If you are a rock star, LET ME KNOW and I can get you in front of the right people to bring you on board, I’m ALWAYS looking for professional, passionate, OMG AMAZING people! and frankly, it’s getting hard to find those from within my network (the last few I know just started 2 weeks ago… but we still have thousands of positions open world wide!)… Whoa this is starting to look like a commercial, but in reality… for those of you on the fence, I’d like to help improve and change your life and your future… which brings on to the second point of who I am..

I absolutely LOVE helping people! I dedicate a large portion of my life around that; whether it be directly through career counseling and doing deeply technical and strategic things, or indirectly by contributing to a charity and helping out in my (tech) community.   The end result (I hope) is that these others who have grown as a result will be able to continue to go out and help others, allowing this chain of benefit to continue through and through!   I’m not saying that will always be the case, but I’m fortunate to have thousands of stories of others who have gone on and done just that and I am proud of every one of them!

So, why am I doing this? Why am I participating in this event to raise not only money for charity, but at the same time raise the bar for the community as a whole?  Because I get a 20% cut of everything we raise! err.. wait, no that’s not it! (no, it isn’t :))

It’s because I more than care about doing something to help improve the lives of others.. I am actually DOING something about it! And you can do something about it to!

There has been no better time than the present to join the RED Team! Seriously, think about it, the red team has Chief, and Simmons… sure.. we don’t have Church, but cmon.. he’s an AI… (if this doesn’t make sense, please visit

But seriously.   The time is here, the time is now, and the time to join our team, well, we can very clearly make it worth it to you!

I DO want to hear from you, as a part of this contest, and outside of this contest as well – Please do stay in touch and if you are looking for a job anywhere in industry.. well, I talk to hundreds of recruiters on a regular basis (industry wide) also, if you play Facebook games.. you can join my Mafia of 3000 people! ;)

Here is how to contact me, and please do sign up and be a champion!

Twitter: @cxi

Facebook: Christopher Kusek

LinkedIn: Christopher Kusek

Blog: PKGuild

FriendFeed: CXI

Email Personal:

Email Professional:

Youtube: christopherkusek

And for further social media context (Who doesn’t do this?! ) And so you can follow along the journey..

Foursquare: CXI

GoWalla: CXI

But above all, I implore you to go here to sign up for the red team! Register and join us! – Please comment on this post if you do as well! :)

And if there is something I can do to help you in particular in some various area.. let me know, and be SURE to let me know if you’re (also) attending TechEd!

I hope to hear from and see you all soon!

Christopher Kusek, CISSP, MCT

Technology Evangelist, Ninja [or] Pirate?!

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Posted in Certification, Education, ITGP, Microsoft | Comments (2)

Every marathon starts and ends with a 1000 mile journey – Boston Marathon wrap-up

May 16th, 2010

(sorry for the delay getting this out.. I’ve been running non-stop since I got back, figuratively.. but it was important to get this out, so here it is!)

I had the great honor and privilege to run as part of an amazing team (Team EMC – Run as One) part of an Amazing Organization (EMC) to run on behalf of an excellent cause (Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center) and let me tell you, I wouldn’t change anything about what I went through in order to get there.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…  Let’s go back many months and start at the beginning, shall we?

The day was September 14th, my birthday! Oh, and it also happened to be the first day I started at EMC as a Technology Evangelist in the Enterprise sector of Chicago.     My feet were not even the slightest bit wet from dipping my toe in the water, and then I see an email come out “Apply to be a part of TEAM EMC to run in the Boston Marathon!” (I’m paraphrasing.. I cannot find the original email ;))   I thought.. What do I have to lose? I’m new here, the worst thing that can happen is, by entering into this lottery, filling out an application and an essay; I don’t get accepted – Right, no skin off my feet (that would certainly come later ;)) – So I went and applied! And less than a month after I start, October 9th, 2009 I receive notice that:


You have won an invitational, non-qualifying official number for the 2010 Boston Marathon.

Wow! Can I say wow here? I’ll try it again.  Wow!!! I did it! I’m part of the team! I’m on board to be part of something bigger than myself at my newly joined organization! Where do I start?!

At this point, my schedule is wracked filled with so many different things, but I took it upon myself to begin my [unorthodox] training regime as I would need to.   While my training did include some running with my personal trainer, it also included learning to breathe appropriately while running (a challenge of mine) as well as ensuring I was mentally fit for this task before me.

I began regularly attending Power Yoga classes at my favorite Yoga Studio – Sky Yoga Studio, which would help ensure I was limber, fit, and breathing constantly.   And also took up TaeKwanDo with my son, because it’s good for us, we needed to get our kung-fu on so to speak, and the type of activity you get in there is rather complimentary as training!

All the while, letting life happen – winter happen… and then… as if no time had passed at all, the fateful week was here!

Unlike others who had the extreme luxury of a cast of characters to cheer them on while they run the course, my options were a little more limited than that (Though I did receive a wonderful sound off and a hug at the start line by my good friend stv, so that was nice! :))  But before I was ever going to get to this point.. I needed to get to Boston!

I spent a fair amount of time on the road… more than would be needed, but I was tired and didn’t leave earlier in the morning as I had planned, so this is the challenge we bring upon ourselves!   I tweeted pictures along the way, but more importantly… I regularly tweeted updates of my status, including questions and whatnot to my friends and community on twitter!   The support I received while driving was amazing!   I was given updates of what the ‘appropriate’ speed to drive in areas, what to watch out for, and general ‘be safe’ type of messages.  The marathon drive was off to a great start!   And in the blink of an eye (of a very tired person….) I had arrived in the general Massachusetts area! very late on a Friday night! (I left Thursday evening)

Unable to make the kick-off festivities on Friday at 3PM, I was ready, able and capable of making it to the event at EMC 176 to meet/greet with all of those we are running on behalf of! and let me tell you, this was a beautiful experience!

The turnout on a rainy saturday afternoon was almost overwhelming! you can see from the photos above just a small sampling of those who turned out.    The number of people coming up to us, shaking our hands and sincerely expressing their gratitude for what is they’re doing for their loved ones – It’s beyond heart warming, I’m tearing up just typing this, and it’s been over a month!

The last photo there taken in front of 176, me in front of my car was taken by one of those gracious attendees who expressed how much we are able to do for her daughter who visits the Respite Center.  Beautiful is a word which cannot even grasp the sheer feeling or atmosphere here.    And this video, sums up the extents and effort they went to for us, as we were going to for them.

So, with all that behind us.. all that is left is to get my bib and get ready!

The sense of community in boston resonates in so many ways and the support you get – which I helped contribute to when on the day before the marathon I met a lost Vancouverian who had just barely gotten their Bib before the convention center closed.   Using the power of the iPhone and Google Maps, I was able to help her get the pre-race carb-loading dinner on, and through active directions, a way to get her back to her hotel on the T! Yay power of the internets!    But, the time is finally here… the fateful morning would be before us!

That monday morning I woke up early! (3am – read that to be 2am chicago time!) and started EATING! Yea, that pre-load.. my body knew what it was doing.  And then I headed on the road to Boston to drive in, park and take the busses back to Hopkinton!    It was a BRISK COLD MORNING.  For those of you who know me.. I’m a VERY cold person even in the best of environments.. but even given the circumstances I wasn’t nearly as cold as I should have been for the situation – Yay me? :)    But after the hearty long wait in line at a time I’d never normally be up.. I was boarded onto a bus and headed to Hopkinton and Athletes village. (Did I mention tweeting along the way entirely?   All of the photos I’m using are taken from my Tweet Stream, so the internet KNEW what I was doing at all times :))

Once in the Athletes village I encounter the great challenge of “Where do I change… why didn’t I change in the first place before showing up” These are definitely the lessons learned you don’t normally hear about considering this is my first marathon!   But I did ensure I was appropriately pre-stretched in the pre-race massage area – And then like a lark I headed down to the corrals ready to race! (thanks stv for taking my iPhone and taking that pre-race shot for me! :))

And… I ran! Taking my picture by myself in front of as many mile/km markers as I possibly could!   Let me tell you a little bit about the support both on the ground and in the clouds.    I’m sure some of you have run a 5k or other types of events, where it’s often you against yourself running, keeping and making a pace – And that is quite a feat to accomplish.  But a Marathon, and I cannot speak for other marathons.. but this marathon – You cannot ‘practice’ or ‘prepare’ for.    The sheer on the ground support you receive in the form of liquid (water, gatorade) food-stuffs (people giving you oranges, grapes, twizzlers) and even moreso importantly, the morale boost you get from the cheering, the hand slapping, people calling out your name – genuinely caring and cheering for you individually.   You CANNOT (not easily) replicate that in your own practice runs.   This is an enabler making you capable of things you otherwise would feel not possible.

(I do recall a certain bout/area whereby I was HURTING like you wouldn’t believe! and then a whole row of ~50 people cheered and had their hands up, which sent me into a power-sprint, slapping the hands of every one of them along that run!   If the entire race were lined that way I’m not sure people would ever stop!)

But when you’re not on the ground and have your head in the clouds like I do, you get support which transcends the mere physical.   I had friends, colleagues who were supporting and cheering me on via Twitter, Facebook, even LinkedIn!   People who were sharing my donation/sponsorship link (I raised an additional $195 DURING the race from their efforts!).   These were good friends who would inform me what the official BAA site was reporting as my current pace time, and offering up tips and guidance as I ran.   So as I said.. both of these channels of support… they cannot be replicated – only experienced and truly to give you that kind of extended feeling of gratification as you cross the finish line.

I was fortunate to not have suffered some of the grave and life complicating challenges which others had experienced – I simply had a host of blisters (encountered in the first few miles due to getting splashed by water) and not to mention the chaffing… oh that was the worst, that shall be my bane!    But I was fine for the most part.    Shortly after the race, and I finally made it to my car to drive back home, my body temperature started having problems being regulated… and I’d encounter extreme shivers for the next 12-18hours.  But once I had that aside and settled in, albeit my body EXTREMELY sore.    I got back in the car… and headed on my way home! (After all I had work to get back to! :))

The road wasn’t too bad, I was stressed and strained moving around, but I spent a fair amount of time on cruise control thankfully!  Honestly the worst part of the journey home could be summed up into the experience of the rest stop terror on the right…. Those are not the kind of post-marathon stairs I want to spend my time climbing up/down (I did make it ;))

In the end, I made it home successfully, safely.. and in recovery for some time, but it was an amazing experience which I would do again and again if I could and have the opportunity.    The thought of would I drive again – Definitely.  I’d prefer to have someone drive with me, so I can go nearly-nonstop instead of continuous stopping and sleeping as I had, but these are the burdens I place upon myself.    For my marathon did not start and finish within 26.2 portions of one mile… No…  My marathon begins and ends with a 1000 mile journey, with a little running in the middle – And it is determination like that which will raise your mental fortitude every time – It’s not about me, nor the race; it is about the children and helping others.

I thank all of you my supporters – And gladly still take your sponsorship dollars to help those of the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center, even still!  Thank you all!

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