By Brandi Waits
My journey with Team in Training started long before I signed up for my first marathon. I received a Team in Training pamphlet in the mail in 2005. I placed it in my home office and looked at it often -- thinking, someday, I'll make my way to the starting line. It was on my bucket list - to run a marathon with Team in Training.
I did not have a personal connection to anyone who was presently going through treatment. Alas, I loved the fact that people were running marathons (getting healthy) and with every step they took they were raising money to find a cure.
Fast forward to 2007: I signed up and ran my first marathon with Team in Training. I gained so much from the entire experience. It was life/game changing experience for me. I met some of the most incredible people. A few of these people have become life long friends. All of this occurred during my first training season with Team in Training. During my first training season, I met families who were going through chemotherapy treatment. I met young children who were battling and going through chemotherapy. It made the miles that I had to cover seem like nothing compared to what they were enduring to gain a chance at life. The stories inspired me, moved me, and made me want to keep running for change! RUNNING to find a CURE! They were and continue to be the REAL HEROS in my story!
I ran my first marathon in April. I immediately signed up to be a mentor during the next training season. I wanted to give back. I was inspired and wanted to inspire someone else to cross the finish line and keep raising money for a CURE. Again, these memories have changed me forever. At the end of this season, I signed up, raised money and ran another marathon with team in training in San Antonio.
I moved away from Dallas and returned to University after my third season with team in training. I continued running on my own with the goal of qualifying for the Boston marathon. During this period, I covered many miles, states, collected many medals and the ability to proudly claim 5 full marathons and 35 half marathons. Running on my own was a good venture for me - alas, there wasn't the feeling of connection or the feeling that I was running for CHANGE and a CURE during my solo marathons.
The goal of running a marathon is not one to be taken lightly. In fact, it is like committing to a second job. You have to train and run many miles during each week. The rewards of running a marathon - both mentally and physically are hands down worthy of the second job!
My personal journey of training for a marathon with team in training and training on my own were noticeably different. Covering the long miles with my team in training team members and our common and shared goal of raising money to fund and continue to search for a cure for cancer made every mile (both long and short) mean something more than personal record (not that this isn't important -- it is!) or another medal.
In 2011, I crossed the finish line of the San Antonio marathon. This marathon has now become my MOST MEMORABLE MARATHON.
I have long held the goal of qualifying for the Boston marathon on my list of things to do during this lifetime. I had the honor and privilege of guiding and encouraging two of the finest athletes to the start/finish line of a full marathon during this season while training for my own personal goal of qualifying for the Big Boston marathon. I was not connected with team in training during this training season (at least I didn't think I was - big smile!).
Race Day 2011 - San Antonio marathon occurs in November of each year. It also happens to be a Boston qualifying race. The race starts and I am making great progress at the 13.1 mile mark. I feel strong, courageous, and confident that I can in fact reach my qualifying time.
I am now at mile 14. I still feel strong and confident in my own race. My goal is within reach ( I can smell it, I can taste it). I look to the right of the road and see the familiar purple jersey of a Team in Training team member. Remember, I am not running as a team member this season. Alas, one never forgets the feeling of wearing the purple jersey and the spirit of the TEAM.
The man is laying on the ground. He is dehydrated and struggling with massive leg cramps (something any seasoned runner knows all too well!). I run past him and say a silent prayer and well wish that he makes it to the finish line. I cover a few more steps! I realize that I have a choice. I can keep running my own race or I can turn back and help my team member.
I chose the latter. I ran back to him. Got him off the ground and walked him to the first aid station where we administered salt packets and electrolytes to keep him going.
I proceeded to run/walk the remainder of the race with this man who was running his first marathon while raising funds for the TEAM (the TEAM that I had once been a part of and would always be a part of).
At mile 24, I saw a group of TNT mentors on the side of the road. They saw the purple jersey and gathered around this wonderful man. I made sure they would be with him until he reached the finish line. They promised to take good care of him and get him to 26.2.
I continued my own race to the finish. Boston was no longer within reach for me - Alas, it was no longer a goal!
I crossed the finish line and found my friend who was waiting for me. He immediately approached me and asked me: "what happened to you out there?" I had no words. I sat down on the ground and cried. I had no words to describe what I had just been blessed to be a part of. It was the race of my life! To get to stand beside and watch the human spirit come alive in this man will forever be imprinted in my heart!
I have no idea if I would have qualified for the Boston marathon on this day. Anything is possible in the remaining miles of the great race of a marathon (and life in general).
The great things about running with Team in Training is the team spirit! One never forgets being a part of a great team!
I found my travel wings in 2011. I have spent the last few years traveling and volunteering in Southeast Asia. At the present moment, I find myself back in Dallas for whatever time period this is. I have found my running feet again! I heard Team in Training was offering a FIRST TIME event in Toronto! It is the PERFECT pairing of my passions: running, raising money for a cure and traveling the world! I am super excited about the Toronto marathon!
So, I am back! Going after it again! This time in Toronto, Canada!
I share with you my favorite life quote:
"Stay hungry. Stay foolish. " ~ Steve Jobs
Join Me... Join TEAM IN TRAINING! Let it change your LIFE!
I hope to meet you in Toronto!