For most of my winter marathon training, I’ve been going at it solo. A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided to take advantage of a weekly group run organized for members of the Team In Training Boston Marathon team.
I was admittedly a little nervous making the trip to the Boston Marathon TNT Team headquarters. I’d run with the Portsmouth team and more recently the Manchester team for a while now. I knew the coaches, the faces and the routes.
Meeting up with a new team was kind of like going to a new school. There would be new rules, new road and new faces.
As I found my way into the community center, I found runners of every shape, size and age. Most were stretching and preparing for the 13 miles we had on the training schedule.
Just like a new school, some were huddled into little groups, catching up on the goings-on of the past week. There were the popular pretty girls, the athletic guys and all of the usual stereotypes you see in school.
Luckily, my childhood provided me with plenty of practice at being the new kid in school. Just as I had in fourth grade and later on in high school, I found a comfortable spot next to a girl by herself.
She was stretching and sipping on her water bottle. I introduced myself and asked her a basic question about the route. Within minutes, we’d made plans to run together and talked about our training progress to date and our fundraising accomplishment.
After a few words from our coaches and an inspirational dedication from one of our teammates – we run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and never forget that we’re running for a reason – we headed out onto the Boston Marathon route.
We picked up the path in Wellesley and small running groups formed naturally. I heard laughter and chatter. I saw waves and occasional high-fives. A few miles in, our first water stop appeared. This was not your ordinary training run stop, certainly unlike the recent times I’ve stashed water bottles into snow banks while running alone.
A group of smiling, cheery volunteers stood behind a table, handing out water and sips of energy drink. The top of the table was neatly lined with energizing snacks – jelly beans, gummy fish, pretzels and more. A real runner’s smorgasbord!
We hit a similar stop just before the turn-around point of the run – which was marked by an encouraging volunteer holding a sign.
I picked up the pace for the return trip and broke off from my small running group. A mile or so from the finishing point, I passed our coach perched on a snow bank clapping and cheering runners as they came into the home stretch of the training run.
As I pulled out of the parking lot after my run, I saw that same coach running alongside the last teammate of the group to return to the home base. They were smiling as the runner finished up what I was guessing was her longest run of her life – not surprisingly alongside a supportive and caring coach.
At that moment, I realized just why I love TNT and how much I’ve missed running with my teammates.
I joined the TNT a little more than three years ago, mostly as a way to meet people, focus on a lofty goal and bring something positive into my life at a time when everything wasn’t so rosy.
What I found was more friendship, confidence and sense of accomplishment than I ever could have imagined. It has literally changed my life.
Through TNT, I have met some of the biggest-hearted, fun-loving and supportive people. I have done things that I never thought were possible only a few short years ago, physically and emotionally. I’ve made a difference in the lives of those dealing with blood cancers.
Time and time again, I have seen the transformation of runners, who on the first day of practice are shy and unsure of whether they will make it to the finish line or meet the fundraising goals. A couple of months later, we join them as they celebrate and cheer as they accomplish their goals.
Just thinking about everyone I’ve seen succeed through TNT makes me smile. There’s something special about it that I can’t put into words.
Locally, TNT teams practice weekly in Manchester and Portsmouth and are now training for events such as the San Diego Marathon, Alaska Marathon, Lake Placid Half Marathon, Mooseman Triathlon and America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe.
For more information on upcoming Team In Training events, visit www.teamintraining.org. Or, feel free to contact me directly using my email address below. I’m always happy to share my experiences.
Please visit my fundraising page to support a good cause and learn more about a very special little boy. http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston11/trobinsy2v. Thank you for your support!