Today’s Reason: Team in Training

This video was produced by Erica, one of my Team in Training mentees from last season, and sums up what it means to be a part of such a dynamic group that’s dedicated to running and fighting to cure cancer. Yours truly is at 3:48 and I meant every word I said.

Last week I celebrated two important milestones: 3 years with Team in Training and 3 years of writing running4thereason.com– happy runniversary/blogiversary to me! In fact, this blog was born because of TNT as I wanted to document the process of fundraising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training for my first marathon. When my first season with the team ended, I stayed on, became a mentor, continued to fund-raise, and ran another marathon… then seven more half marathons with the team after that.

The cliche “absence makes the hear grow fonder” is so very true! My 6th season with TNT just concluded and I really miss seeing my team, manager, and coaches on a regular basis! I am not on the team right now because of my injury but still wanted to relay the “why” behind my dedication to TNT & LLS in order to encourage and motivate others to join up and run for this stellar organization.

Be it sunny, windy, snowing, or raining, I won’t mind as these miles are all for Team in Training!

The Cause
I truly believe that one person can make a difference in this world and I have always wanted to do just that. I have fund-raised and completed athletic events in support of cancer research and awareness since the 1990’s, long before I started running. I would hike, cycle, or walk and try my hardest to raise as much money possible for each worthy organization.

There are so many good causes out there, why did I choose cancer?  Sadly, because cancer has surrounded me all my life.  Family, friends, acquaintances, friends’ parents, friends of friends… breast, prostate, cervical, lung, and skin cancer- I’ve been touched in some direct or indirect way by it and have grown to hate cancer with every last fiber of my being. Too much suffering, too much pain, too much loss, too much sorrow and as Coach Al always says, “Too many damned names.”

When I first joined TNT, I did not have a personal connection to blood cancer but within just months of being on the team, I learned that a very close college friend was suffering and finally passed away from a rare type of lymphoma. Through mourning, I found myself sad and angry, yet more determined than ever to stay with TNT and continue to fight the battle against cancer.

Running for running’s sake is one thing, but running for a cause is something different. The cause gives you the reason to lace up and hit the road, being with a team gives you the accountability, and fighting for a cause you believe in gives you the mental strength to push past anything.

October 2011: 1st season with TNT, 1st marathon, Team Driven: Best Team Ever!

October 2011: 1st season with TNT, 1st marathon, Team Driven: Best Team Ever!

The People
I joined TNT without knowing a single person who was doing it too and while I’m not at all a shy person, it was remarkably easy to show up to that first kick-off alone and start making friends. Team in Training truly brings together generous, like-minded people and I have met some stellar individuals and made friends for life.  Nothing truly bonds you like miles and miles and miles together and the knowledge that you are fighting the same cause, crossing the same finish line, and are 100% in this together.

It’s kind of weird how hard it’s been for me to write this post- I’ve been stumped for days!- and I think that’s because of how very much TNT itself, and the people of TNT, mean to me. I actually keep getting very emotional as I write this thinking about all the people I’ve met during my 3 years and how much they have changed my life- really, it’s the coaches of Team in Training that have taught me how to persevere, how to endure, how to accomplish my goals and for that, they hold an incredibly special and deep place in my heart- a place of severe respect, admiration, and- alright, I’ll say it- love.

You're never getting rid of me, Coach Al...

This. Guy!

The phenomenal power couple of Coach Al and Mamma Lisa, the inspiring Coach Kim, the vigilance of Coach Rudy, the exuberance of Coach Karen, and the attentiveness of Coach Marchal… I didn’t know what to expect when I first joined TNT but what I got, in all of these people, are unforgettable experiences, sundry happy memories, and faith in myself. And for that, I will always keep coming back.

The Goal
When I decided to join Team in Training, my goals were twofold: 1) to raise more money for cancer research than I ever had before and 2) accomplish the Nike Women’s HALF Marathon in San Francisco. Within one week of meeting my teammates, honorees, and coaches, I was convinced to tackle the full. I met my fundraising goal and then exceeded it, raising close to $4000 (when I had only raised maybe $1500 in the past), and also crossed the finish line of my first full marathon and that is a direct result of the cause, the support, and the people that make up TNT.

I’ll never forget this moment with one of our team honorees, Justin, who lost his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier this year… Justin, so humbly, thanked us all for our help and support and said, “There’s one thing that separates Team in Training athletes from the rest of the world… while everyone else crosses the finish line upset, crying and puking, Team in Training athletes cross that finish line with big smiles on their faces. You can always tell who’s on the team by the look on their face at the finish, the smile says it all. All that you do really helps me, really helps the rest of the world and I am forever motivated by YOU.”

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society asked me to write about TNT to encourage people to register for the upcoming season and, coincidentally, I was already going to write about TNT as a way to say thank you to my team this past season and try to put into words how very much these past 3 years have meant to me.

So, if you read this and are inspired to accomplish that “next goal” and are looking for a great team experience with tons of education and stellar training, please consider joining Team in Training and help raise funds to improve the quality of life for blood cancer patients and their families.  Use the code RUN4REASON ((join the fall team & fund-raise for a guaranteed entry to Nike SF!) when signing up for the fall season to receive 50% off TNT registration (good through July 21, 2014)- thank you, LLS & TNT!

Forever and always: GO TEAM!!!

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