This morning was the kickoff event for my marathon program.
For those of you who don't know, I am running my first marathon (Rock n Roll San Diego) on June 2nd through Team in Training. TNT is an endurance training program benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that aims to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. TNT is the world's largest fundraising program with an endurance sport training component, and LLS is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education, and patient services.
I checked in and found my way to our table, which was with some of my teammates on the Central Denver run team. Teams are separated by event and location- north, south, and central teams - for running, triathlon, and biking. We were also able to meet some other special people who will be part of this journey: our mentor (I had already met), who assists us with our fundraising efforts and some of the logistics of the experience. We also met our coaches (I had met one of the two), who will be helping us with our training plan, monitoring our miles, nutrition, and some of the physical aspects of the training.
We also got to meet our team hero Sharon. Sharon was originally diagnosed in March 2002 with breast cancer. After being in remission for almost 3 years, she was diagnosed with MALT Lymphoma in November 2005. She once again started cancer treatment with the drug Rituxan, which LLS was involved in the development of. The medication allowed her to live a normal life while undergoing treatment. She has ran/walked several half and full marathons, and says she "will continue to walk, run, and fundraise as long as there is a need - maybe someday we can walk and run because we want to, not because we have to." I am so excited to be running with and for Sharon!
A few people from LLS spoke to talk about the mission, the research, and why we're doing what were doing. It was really great to help solidify the bigger picture of what our journey. Then we had two amazing speakers- the Board President, who gave a very moving talk about his experience with treatment and how working with TNT has changed his life. Then, we had someone share her story - a story all too familiar in the cancer world - of how her 10 month old baby girl didn't make it. Yet her story has inspired so many through the TNT program and wanted to share that reality with us: that there is still a need for what we are doing because they aren't all success stories.
After the tears dried, everyone got to walk the room to learn more about the program, get help with fundraising ideas, and get tools that will help us over the next several months. We also got to meet other coaches, mentors, staff, and other participants of the program. I had some great chats with people doing 100 miles bike rides and from other races. We shared stories, motivations, fears, goals, and excitement.
Before this kickoff, I was super excited about this experience - for the challenge of running my first marathon. Raising money for an incredible cause. Running in memory of my grandpa. Silencing the fear, doubt, and worry that this journey brings. It was already personal for me.
After the kickoff, it took everything to a whole new level. Not only can I do this, but I WILL do this. And I will have success along the way. The team will help me get through. My life will change immeasurably through this. And I will change lives along the way. I will SAVE lives along the way.
I can't wait for what lies ahead on this journey.
To help me reach my goals and accomplish this feat, consider donating to benefit LLS. Click here for more info.