When I ran the Chicago Marathon last month, I ran for a charity — the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which meant I got all my training from Team in Training. I had a number of charities I could choose from, but ultimately I chose to run for LLS because I had done an event with LLS/TNT previously (a hike in the Grand Canyon) and was impressed not only with the work done by LLS but the training I received from TNT.
I am fortunate that I have not had anyone I am really close to experience the hell that is leukemia or lymphoma. I have had a couple of students who had leukemia, and I know their battles were difficult. So my motivation for raising money for LLS was driven more out of desire to help a worthy charity and, quite honestly, a bit of obligation to meet my fundraising commitment. I mention this only because when you fundraise for a charity like LLS, you meet plenty of people who are fundraising because they are remembering someone they loved who died from leukemia or lymphoma, or they are doing it in honor of someone currently fighting the disease, or they themselves are survivors. And meeting those people, who raise money not out of obligation, is moving, touching, and motivating.
I really enjoyed doing my fundraising for LLS because they are a quality organization. The training i received for the marathon was fabulous. I had virtual coaches who developed a training plan for me and were able to answer all sorts of questions about running and injuries and nutrition. They alleviated fears and insecurities and offered inspiration and motivation.
The coaches were not issued bibs, so they couldn’t run the course with us, but they had coaches stationed every 4 miles on the course. Every time I passed them, they always called out to me by name, checked on how I was doing, and asked if I needed anything. Once all the LLS/TNT runners had passed a 4 mile point, they headed to mile 22 so they would all be there before we got to the last 4 mile stretch.
The most amazing thing is how they stayed on course until the very last LLS/TNT runner crossed that finish line. They would meet a runner, stay with them as long as the runner needed, then go back out on the course to find another runner who might need support. That’s how I met Coaches Mark and Jeff. Mark found me on the course and started walking with me and cheering me up, lifting my spirits, keeping my mind busy on with anything but the pain and fatigue I was feeling. Then soon, Jeff showed up, and Jeff worked on giving me energy and confidence to cross the finish line. By the time they left me at mile 26, with only .2 left to go, I was brimming with excitement and gratitude. I wish so much that I could personally tell those two guys how incredibly grateful I am to them and how they helped me finish that race. I owe them a deep debt, and I hope they have somehow heard through the grapevine how much I appreciate all they did for me and all the other runners who needed them.
The coaching from TNT was second to none. I don’t at all intend to disparage any other charity who had runners in the marathon, but I didn’t see as much support on course for other charity runners as I saw for the TNT runners. Maybe they were there and I was just too focused on what I was doing to notice. But if you are someone thinking of running a race for a charity, I want you to know that Team in Training will give you an amazing experience.