Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Hate Cancer. I Love Purple.

Elizabeth says that it is Paint it Purple Week, so I'm trusting that she knows something I don't and I'm going to share my Team in Training story.

I first heard of Team in Training many many years ago when my brother trained for the Anchorage Marathon. It seemed like a nice idea - raising money for cancer research and all...but I didn't really "get" the whole fund raising thing that he was trying to do :-( ...but by the time 2005 rolled around it became really personal ~ Mom was diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. At the time we had really no clue what this cancer was, what her prognosis would be, really not a lot of info other than stuff I found on the internet that really really scared me. I decided to join up with Team in Training as I really had no other way of feeling strong about the situation. I had run a marathon the previous year and it was pretty painful. With Team in Training, I not only had a great time, but I made some friends and I crossed the finish line feeling like I could keep running and running and running - here I am in purple leading Robin into the finish line...It was seriously a GREAT race.
Look how little wee ones were!!

The hardest thing about that first year wasn't training for or even running the was trying to keep my tears in check. At the first team run, I bawled. At the second team run, I whimpered. The thing with TNT is that it is about fighting death. No matter how you boil it down, you are either crying over loss or crying with joy over life.

I took a year off, but in 2007 my cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. He was 32 and had two little kids and again I felt like the only thing I could do to keep some power was raising money for research. This time I really stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to try a triathlon. I thought my tear ducts would be a little dryer this time around, but I was wrong. When you are thinking about those close to you in pain, it just stays raw as you continue about your day. It doesn't make sense that you are racing triathlons and they are fighting for their lives, but that is. how. it. is.
In the 2008 season, our honored teammate was a beautiful little girl named Natasha. As she faced her treatments, my tears just kept coming. I felt withdrawn at many points during that training year. It was hold myself back or just break loose and breaking loose wasn't very pretty for me that year. Either was the finish of my race, but I look pretty happy in this picture ( I think I was actually delirious :-)
Look at that background. Who could ask for more??!!
2009 came and went with another turn at Pac Crest and the loss of little Natasha. Each year I think the tears will stop coming and each year I'm wrong. The thing is, though...crying lets me know I'm alive, that I still care, that there is still work to be done. Tears may well up and fall down to my cheeks many many times this season, and I invite them to. I hate cancer and I love purple.
That is my Paint It Purple Week story.


Jen said...

Now THAT is motivation. Well said.

misszippy said...

Awesome cause--cancer sucks, plain and simple!

Laura said...

Nice job on ALL of it. I ran Anchorage Marathon (my first w/ TNT) and have mentored numerous marathons. I also did my first tri with them!!! I'm sorry to hear about your mom!!

Elizabeth said...

love it! your story is very moving. glad you joined in on the paint it purple! they are really pushing it in GA.

Natalia said...

Thank you for sharing that.

Kevin @ Half TRI-ing said...

Wow!! What a pretty bike ride.


The Hungry Runner Girl said...

WOW!!! You are such a huge example to me! You have been through SO SO much!! I love the TNT program and think the world of you for all that you do to help other people!

Julie said...

Thanks all of you so much for your supportive comments!

Rose said...

Reading the TNT bibs during the first marathon I ran (it had a very heavy TNT turnout) made me cry. It is so amazing to be able to see all these people out there, pushing their bodies to the limit for themselves, for people they love, for people they've lost.

Thank you for sharing your story.