There are many things that I am thankful for. But at this moment one opportunity stands out in my mind. It was November of 2006. I was in Chicago to coach the fledgling Run Raw Team in their first raw Chicago Marathon. As far as we knew at the time, no team of raw, vegan athletes had ever been assembled to compete in an event. For us it was a momentous occurrence. We were breaking new ground. We were ushering in the dawning of a new era in sport. We were running raw. Well, I should say that THEY were running raw. I was sidelined with a knee injury and my role of coach, although gladly accepted, was not my first choice. Needless to say, I was rather blue.
The race was quite an undertaking. Our athletes would not be able to fuel at the normal race water stops, which were serving up some kind of sports goo, water, pretzels and candy. We would somehow have to be on course at several key locations with specially designed concoctions in hand to pass out to our raw heroes en route. The mixture that we tested was coconut water blended with dates, dulse and agave nectar (in hindsight, this was a horrible mixture). Late into the evening the night before the race Ariane Glazer, the wife of runner Rob Speros, myself and co Run Raw Team founder Krista Mikulski prepared these drinks as well as breakfasts and post race meals. We were like an assembly line in a raw restaurant cranking out wholesome goodness. During this prep period, Ariane, Krista and I bonded over shared raw experiences and anecdotes. Ariane was the main organizer for the large Chicago Raw Community Thanksgiving Dinner which was going to be held the following week and she had the idea that I come and speak at the event. I had never spoken to a group of people about raw foods or anything for that matter. It was a great opportunity to share the message, but I will admit that I was very nervous. My understanding of physiology, nutrition and biochemistry were quite miniscule at that point in time, but I had a great story to share and Ari thought that it might inspire some people to change their diets.
So I stood in front of a packed room and shared from the heart… I had no script or outline… I simply talked about my experience. I’m sure my information was far from accurate, but my intentions were good. As scary as the experience was, I found new meaning for myself in that kind of sharing. I felt a value that I had not experienced before. I felt like I was home. I found my calling. Had I not been injured, I might have been in bed sleeping and missed out on that connection. Sometimes the frailty of our bodies and minds yield our greatest rewards.
A lot has changed since that fateful night. I’ve been back as the speaker at the Chicago Raw Community Thanksgiving every year since. My knowledge has increased one hundred fold and my desire to help and educate has grown along with it. For this I am grateful. My path has not been an easy one, but I cannot imagine a more rewarding experience.
It is with great sadness and gratitude that I write this blog in honor of all those amazing people in Chicago who bring this event together every year… and who helped me find my purpose and calling in life. For the first time in six years, I will not be in attendance. My investment in race travel has left me bare and it’s time to lay low… But tomorrow, my thoughts and smiles will be in Chicago 🙂
Here are some clips from last year’s event: