On Saturday morning, before meeting the Virtual Team in Training (VTNT) team downstairs in the hotel lobby for a quick 20 minute run, I ran across the street to Starbucks for a quick coffee. When I walked inside, I saw that the place was jammed wall to wall with runners, all teched out in snazzy gear and chatting excitedly in every language imaginable over their coffee and pastry.
I got in line and immediately started to panic, thinking "Ohmygosh all these people are so insanely fit and casual about it and totally prepared and they'll all probably run it superfast and do I need to wear pants or shorts and should I also be wearing a neckwarmer and Ohmygosh all of these people are getting ready to run a MARATHON for the love of Pete and here they are just sitting around and they're totally ready..."
Then I imagined smacking myself on the shoulder and thought "Ok, Crazytown. Settle down. You too are dressed head to toe in reflective spandex and you too are ready. Take. It. Easy."
Once I came down off of (one of the many) ledges I've been on lately, I walked back across the street to meet the rest of the team. My TNT experience was different from most in that it was virtual, meaning the Greenville chapter doesn't offer the New York marathon as an event in which to participate. So other than corresponding with Coach Joe English via email and the various emails from the TNT office regarding fundraising and logistics, I knew no one.
There were 18 of us from all over the country, and though I only caught their first names, I immediately felt like a part of the Team. We were all in the same boat-one full of nerves, anticipation, and excitement-and we were all committed to a cause for our own reasons. I ran briefly with a man named Tom who has a niece at St. Jude's and raised over $16,000. I ran with Kim, who'd just qualified for Boston 3 weeks ago and is running the Paris marathon for TNT in the spring. I chatted with Felix, who'd held a charity pub crawl in his hometown to raise money for this event.
VTNT photo by Joe English
I'm going to fast-forward here and tell you that when I crossed the finish line, I thought to myself, "Well. That was that. Done and Done. And never again." If you know me at all, you'll know that was temporary, and that I'm already lining up another race. But what's interesting now is that I'm running just to run, whereas with this race, I was running for something bigger, something much more important than a marathon-a cure. It was a powerful incentive and a ready motivator when the miles got long. (And thankfully Kenya never looked out the window and saw me running, crying, laughing, and crying some more.)
I would run for TNT again in a second, so organized, supportive, and committed to a cure are they that they have people who run again and again and again. And out on the course when people would yell "Go Team!" I knew they were cheering for me to run strong, but in my mind they were applauding all of you who supported me, because you made it happen.