In Fall of 2015, I wanted to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. I decided to run with Team in Training. My dad is a retired firefighter and a blood cancer survivor. I wanted to run for him and other firefighters impacted by blood cancers. When I signed up to run, I just figured I would run and raise money for a GREAT cause, and that was it. Well, I got more, WAY more. I got a family! A family worth early morning wake ups every Saturday for months! Here are a few reasons why I keep going!
Team in Training is Welcoming. Our first run was at Lake Merritt in Oakland. We met and had presentations on good running shoes and how to roll our muscles. As being somewhat new to running, I was thrilled to have the seminars. The coach, Coach Al, was a man full of joy and had a HUGE heart!! He was not only an elite runner but cared about the cause. You could see this in all he said. On this same day, my dad was starting his first round of chemo, his cancer had just recently come back after I signed up to run. Coach Al asked for our connections, so I shared mine. Immediately, I felt warmth in our circle. I felt welcomed and I felt everyone there added my dad to those they run for. Our team name that year was M&M!!
It is a small world! Each week we had a track workout. I couldn’t wait to go to my first one! I really wanted to improve my running, and having the extra coaching as part of Team in Training was an added bonus to why I was there! I get to my first track workout and start talking to the coach about where I was from and where I went to college. Wouldn’t you know, we shared the same alma mater, a small college in Oregon! I loved making this connection!
The HONOREES, oh the HONOREES! Each week we had someone share that was a team honoree. This means they had battled blood cancer. I remember hearing one week from a young lady that at age 5 she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Here she was at 16 telling us her story! It brought tears to my eyes! A few weeks into the season, we had an honoree potluck. Three or four honorees told us their stories. Hearing these stories reminded me why I was there and pushed me through the hard runs.
The Companionship! Having people to run with is a HUGE bonus!! We are out there every Saturday running as a team. We have volunteers who come out and provide us with water stops. Every time you pass, or get passed, by a team member, you yell Go Team and cheer! We are truly a team, and it often felt like a family! My two longest runs ever I had a friend running by my side both times. She pushed me and saw me through to the end.
This was my first half marathon and she and I ran the race together. She reminded me in that last mile about my dad and she was there as I got my medal. I don’t know if I would have made it through those moments of training on my own.
The Celebration!! Lastly, there is the honoree dinner the night before the race. Talk about a tear jerker! You come into the room through a tunnel of …… (Well, that part is a surprise, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for a new team member!!). Once in the dinner, you hear stories and speakers that just pull at your heart strings. You are reminded why you are there. You get that energy and push to make it through mile 13 or 25 or 9! Now, imagine having that sitting in the stands of AT&T Park! That was our experience last September and I can’t wait for it again this year!
Family. Team in Training gave me SO much more than just a 2 hour and 30-minute race and some money raised. It gave me a family. It gave me a purpose. It gave me proper training. It inspired me. It reminded me of the people out there that can’t run because cancer has taken that from them.
JOIN ME!! The San Francisco Giant Race will be my fourth race raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training. I will run for my dad and everyone that has been impacted by blood cancers. You can join me! Register here for the Giant Race