This morning Roberto and I headed to Annandale High School where we met more of our team members, mentors, and coaches. Our honored teammate, Brian, shared with us his struggle with blood cancer and, more importantly, his triumph. He was diagnosed at age 23 and just passed his five year anniversary on Monday. He credits the patient services arm of the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society with helping him and his family face the financial and emotional realities of his diagnosis and treatment. Thanks in part to research funded by LLS, doctors identified his leukemia down to the exact deleted chromosome causing trouble and planned his treatment accordingly. Today he’s grateful to be alive, part of a young adult support group for survivors, and a marathon runner.
As for me, it was a humbling moment on the track when I looked up from my Runkeeper app and realized that I had been left in the dust. Today I happened to be the only team member walking the entire half-marathon, so everyone else darted away to start their alternating run/walk workouts and I headed to the outer lanes where I wouldn’t be in the way. Yet it wasn’t a totally solitary experience; there was a cow bell and frequent calls of “Go Team” as we made our way around and around and around again. Roberto visited with me during one of his walk breaks, one of the coaches checked in with us about our shoes (which desperately need replacement) and later another coach swung in to chat with me about my goals and encourage me.
I was not the very last person to finish, mostly because the marathoners had to go a mile further than I did. That said, I’m proud that I hit a personal best with a 16:54 minute/per mile average and I look forward to making that number drop below 15 and maybe even 14 as the season progresses. I also feel a little triumphant that I walked a bit further than the two miles required because I was on the outer ring of the track. As we get deeper into the season it may be harder to get through each workout but we’re fortunate to be starting early and ramping up slowly. Two miles sounded really doable to a coach potato like me, and it was.
Today was a great day because it helped me see that I really can do a half marathon, and I loved meeting all my awesome new teammates. We had a nice warm summer shower that washed away any thought of sweat on my part; apparently the only weather that interrupts a workout is a thunderstorm or a hurricane. Weirdly enough, I’m glad to hear that, and I’m really glad that I decided to join Roberto and kick off my 42nd year with a commitment to Team in Training. Walt Disney World, here we come!