Monday, August 5, 2013

My First Triathlon by Vicktoria White

Team In Training's Georgia Chapter is thrilled to be taking a team to the HITS Triathlon Series in Naples, FL this coming January! After all, the race came highly recommended by our amazing IronTeam that used the Olympic distance race in Naples as a trial race while training for an Ironman. IronTeam did this race, you say? That sounds intimidating. Well, hear what one of the tri newbies on the team had to say about their experience training for Naples:

One of the hardest and scariest things to do in life is to do something you've never done before.  On the flip side, it can also prove to be the most rewarding.  As an example, who in their right mind would sign up for an Ironman, or ANY triathlon for that matter, who didn't know how to swim? Or even run?! Well, I DID!  And as it turns out, it was one of the best decisions of my life and one that I am very proud to say that I did with Team In Training.

Team In Training has changed my life in many wonderful ways as well as the lives of so many others through the millions of dollars we have been able to raise for cancer research.  It is because of my experience with the TNT cycle program that I gained the confidence to sign up for triathlons not knowing how to swim.  I knew that the coaches would be amazing and they would teach me the skills I needed to succeed.

Race morning of my first triathlon!

My very first triathlon was the HITS Triathlon Series Olympic distance.  I was really nervous going into it because I had never done it before, but the TNT coaches and mentors were there with us every step of the way.  They swam, biked and ran with us, making sure each participant made it to the finish. What an AMAZING feeling to cross the finish line at my first triathlon!

My team and I after finishing the HITS Naples Olympic distance tri.

I couldn't be more excited to go back to compete in the this HITS race in Naples again with TNT and to now be mentoring! As a newbie triathlete I know it's doable, and based on my more experienced teammates from last year that loved the race I know it's a good one for seasoned triathletes as well.

Wait, you still haven't sign up yet?  Here are some facts/highlights that will maybe change your mind and, hopefully, convince you to join us!
  • I honestly COULD NOT swim.  In fact, when I did finally make it to the end of the 25 yard pool (after stopping to hold onto the side), I thought I was going to have a heart attack. The coaches never skipped a beat though! They were always positive, encouraging, and reassuring me that I could do it.
  • I had only been swimming for 4.5 months before my first triathlon in Naples.
  • I had a GREAT swim in Naples! Now, I wasn't speedy Gonzales, but I did good!
  • Who doesn't want to go to beautiful Naples in January when it is so cold here in Atlanta?!
  • Not only do you get to challenge yourself but you get to raise money for an organization that is saving lives.  That should be reason enough.  
I hope you'll join us! You can do that here. GO TEAM!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

#WHYITNT Instagram video contest

Love TNT? Well, so do we! And we want to know why YOU TNT!

Make a creative video giving us ONE reason why you TNT

example: “I TNT for…” OR “I TNT because..” OR “I TNT so…”

Submit a 6-10 second video via Instagram (@teamintrainingGA) with the hash tag #WHYITNT

Share your videos with friends and family – and get them to LIKE IT! The TOP 3 people with the most likes will receive lots of TNT goodies and we’ll recognize up to 26 videos on the Team In Training Georgia Chapter social media tools including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

1st place winner: FREE REGISTRATION for a ‘13-‘14 Winter Season event

2nd place winner: TNT Swag Bag with t-shirt, water bottle and other goodies

3rd place winner: TNT “Go Team” shirt

The contest begins on Thursday, July 25th at 10:00 AM and ends on Thursday, August 1st at 12:00 PM!!

So go on! What are you waiting for? Tell us WHY YOU TNT!!

Follow us on Instagram too: @teamintrainingga


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There's something extraordinary about the number 25: Lelia and Team In Training

Bob and Lelia with fellow TNT'ers at
the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Half Marathon in 2003.
 This year, there's something quite extraordinary about the number twenty-five. Team In Training will commemorate it's 25th anniversary. Lelia Emery (Huber), one of the Georgia Chapter's first Honored Heroes, will celebrate her 25th birthday. And to perfectly complete this trio of events, Bob Huber, father of Lelia and avid LLS volunteer will complete his 25th Team In Training event. Just a coincidence? We think not.

In 1988, Bruce Cleland started a movement when he got a team together to train for the New York City Marathon and raise funds to support leukemia research. To honor his baby daughter Georgia's battle with leukemia, Bruce and his team of 38 runners raised $322,000 for LLS's Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter. From this effort, Team In Training was born; now 25 years later, the program has prepared more than 570,000 athletes who have raised more than $1.32 billion to support blood cancer research and patient services.

Little Lelia during treatment.
One of the first Honored Heroes from the Georgia Chapter of TNT was Lelia Emery (Huber). Lelia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in 1991, when she was just 2 ½ years old. She was hospitalized and immediately began receiving aggressive chemotherapy. Lelia's medication was called Methotrexate, which her family renamed "Pickle Juice" due to its green color. Finding ways to make treatment fun, Lelia also decided to name her chemo pump Seymour. Seven and a half years after being diagnosed, Lelia, ten years of age, was considered cancer free. Today, Lelia is a healthy young woman who will soon celebrate her 25th birthday. She lives in Columbus, Ohio and recently returned from a cruise where she and her husband enjoyed their first wedding anniversary.

As a Team Honored Hero, there were many TNT participants training in Lelia's honor. One day she looked at her dad, Bob Huber, and asked, "When are YOU going to do something in my honor?" That was all it took and Bob was officially signed up for his first Team In Training event, the Bermuda Marathon, in 1999. Since that year, Bob has completed twelve events as a participant and coached an additional twelve events for TNT. The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Georgia 50K will mark Bob's 25th event with TEAM. Who knew a simple request from a child would create such an amazing journey? Bob has also participated in LLS's Man & Woman of the Year campaign and is a dedicated LLS volunteer.

Here's a short Q&A with Lelia...

Little Lelia and Bob
Do you have any siblings?
Yes, a brother who is 3 ½ years younger. I was just getting my hair back when he was born.

What symptoms did you experience before you were diagnosed?

I was pale, lethargic and basically everything opposite of a typical two-year-old child. My parents took me to see their friend, who was an ER doctor. He suggested we go to the hospital immediately.

Describe your treatment protocol.

I spent the first month of treatment in the hospital. I was then released and continued to receive chemotherapy from home for about six months. I spiked a fever after each and every chemo treatment. I had 2 ½ years of treatment and 5 years of checkups every 3-6 months after being in remission. After 7 ½ years, I was considered cancer free and was told the chance of cancer returning was slim. I continued with extensive check-ups until I was 17 to ensure I did not experience side effects from the chemotherapy and treatments.

Since you were so young during treatment, what memories do you have from that time?

Two memories that stand out in my mind are my fear of receiving a spinal tap and running through the hospital hallways with a friend I met in the hospital.

Bob and Leila on her wedding day.
Do you have any suggestions for other children who have cancer and are going through treatment?

When I was young, I kept my cancer diagnosis a secret and only told my close friends. I suggest finding people that you can be yourself around. Don’t be afraid to be weird, angry, etc. Talk with a Child Life Specialist so they can get to know you. They can be some of your best help!

How did your dad get involved with Team In Training?

Being a TNT Honored Hero, there were so many people doing such great things for me. One day, I turned to my dad and asked when HE was going to do something for me!

Have you done a Team In Training event?

Yes, in 2003, when I was 14 years old, my dad and I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach ½ Marathon. I had such a great time and it was so rewarding!

Where did you attend college?

I graduated from the University of Alabama and am now a Board Certified Music Therapist.

Do you feel your experiences growing up influenced your career choice?

Yes. I attended Camp Sunshine where I met many people who helped me in a variety of ways. I also had friends who worked with music therapists and I saw how much it helped them. I had an internship at a children’s hospital and an adolescent juvenile detention center. I always knew I wanted to give back!

Are you currently working?

Yes, I teach classes at Gymboree.

What are your hobbies?

I love playing with my 4-year-old dog, Grayson.

What are your goals for the next 10 years?

I would like to work as a music therapist. Have 1 or 2 children and I would love to do another TNT event.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Team Purple Spotlight: TNT Staff, Jennie Ellis, goes back to a PARTICIPANT!

The ladies here at Team In Training do not hesitate to go above and beyond for LLS. We recently caught up with TNT Campaign Coordinator, Jennie Ellis, to discuss her walk (or rather, run) on the wild side as she embraces her inner participant and trains for the Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Marathon, taking place this June. With a strong athletic background and her mind on the mission, Jennie trains and fundraises for a cure. Watch out San Diego!

Jennie Ellis and other TNT staff and support staff are all smiles at
the Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon 2013 finishing tent.
(Left to right: Aileen Bleach, Roberta McCunney,
Carey Garrett, Kimberly Williams, and Jennie Ellis)
What is your athletic background? Have you ever done one of these events before?

Growing up, I was always involved in some sort of sport/activity. You name it, I did it. However, I was heavily involved in competitive swimming for many years and ran cross country in high school. I have participated in several 5K’s and 10K’s, but I have never completed a marathon or half marathon before. So San Diego will be my first marathon experience!

Have you ever fundraised before? Are you nervous? 

This is my first experience with fundraising. While I have helped others fundraise, this will be the first time I am doing it on my own. It is a little nerve wracking, but mostly I am excited by the challenge and the opportunity to further support the LLS mission.

What motivated you to sign up?

My aunt, Kimberly Williams, is a coach with TNT. She and her husband Ken have participated in many marathon/half marathon events with TEAM and have always encouraged me to sign up for one, but it never felt like the right time. When I first started working with TNT, I staffed our Atlanta Nike and Chicago marathon teams. I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco with the Nike team and the entire event weekend was a huge inspiration to me. I was so proud of my participants, and so inspired and motivated by all they had accomplished. I knew I wanted that feeling, so I decided to sign up for San Diego.

How long have you been with LLS?

I have kind of run the gamut with our LLS campaigns! I began working for LLS part time in May of 2011 as a recruiter on the Light The Night campaign, then received another part time position as a Campaign Assistant for our Special Events Department before starting to work full time with Team In Training in May 2012. I have really enjoyed learning the aspects of our different campaigns at LLS and am loving working for TNT.

What is your favorite aspect of being a TNT participant?

The thing I enjoy most is getting to see this campaign from the other side, the participant side. It really helps to know what the campaign is all about, why it is so special to our participants, and what makes them keep coming back. You get the opportunity to meet such amazing people and to hear their stories. It is definitely what keeps me going and what motivates me to go that extra mile when it seems impossible. While I have no personal connection to the mission, the participants and patients I have worked with are my inspiration. You know what you are doing is making a huge difference in people’s lives. I feel so fortunate to be able to give back to them by fundraising for LLS.

What goals do you have for the season?

Ideally, I’d like to finish the marathon in under 5 hours. However, I will be happy just to cross that finish line (preferably with my arms in the air and not a horrible look on my face). I have this fear that something will happen the day before the race, like I’ll break my toe or something. So finishing is a definite! Also, I would love to be able to raise at least $500 over my fundraising commitment, which is $3,200. The main goal here is to support the LLS mission so our patients can have access to better treatments and services, and we can eventually find a cure for these diseases. I know every dollar that is raised is critical, so the more that I can contribute towards that overarching goal, the better!

Way to go Jennie !

Monday, March 11, 2013

Team Purple Spotlight: TNT staff, Amanda Yancey, trains for a cure!

Amanda Yancey is a warrior for LLS both on and off the clock. Not only is she a Team In Training Campaign Manager, but she has now signed up to complete her second TNT event as a participant – talk about practicing what she preaches! Amanda is currently training for the ELEVEN Lake Oconee Olympic distance triathlon taking place in May, her first ever triathlon. We recently caught up with Amanda amidst all of her swimming, biking, and running to learn more about her commitment to LLS.

What is your athletic background? Have you ever done one of these events before?

I completed my first ever endurance event as a TNT participant last June by doing the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, AK. It was quite a challenge but extremely rewarding.

Have you ever fundraised before? Are you nervous?

I first got involved with LLS when I joined Light The Night in 2009 to honor my best friend, Megan, an AML survivor. Since then I have raised over $8,000 for LLS and have a personal goal to hit $10,000 this season by completing the ELEVEN Lake Oconee Triathlon.

What motivated you to sign up?

The mission. Ultimately, the LLS mission to cure all blood cancers and to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families continues to be my number one motivation. I have witnessed how destructive blood cancer is and I want to do my part in the fight for a CURE. A friend from college and Lymphoma survivor, Jason, also motivated me to sign up this season. This training challenge is nothing compared to the chemo, radiation and treatment side effects that he has endured along the way.

How long have you been with LLS?

2 years this month!

What is your favorite aspect of being a TNT participant?

Being on staff with Team In Training, I have the opportunity to work with amazing volunteers and blood cancer survivors that continuously dedicate their time and energy to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I love having the opportunity to be a fellow teammate and to train by their side towards the same great cause.

What are your goals for the season?

To cross the finish line in this Olympic triathlon and to surpass my fundraising goal for the Society!

Way to go Amanda !

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You Only Live Twice by Vera Lim

Vera receiving treatment in 2012.

There are many things in life that we never imagine having to do or having to go through. For me, a cancer diagnosis was one of them. After three months of visiting doctors for what was initially thought to be a cough, a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and then lingering pneumonia, I was convinced that the chest pains and piercing back pains were good indicators that my illness was not rooted in my respiratory system. Eventually, on January 17, 2012 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma, NOS type. After six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation therapy, in September of 2012, I was weakly but happily placed in remission.

Even before beginning chemotherapy, I wanted to do something to help other cancer patients. I suppose you could attribute it to the health professional in me, being that it is my career field. I found that many of the trials and tribulations of chemo, or just dealing with cancer period, are usually addressed quite poorly by the medical team. It's not to say that they don't care, but they just don't have the time. This is especially the case at large institutions like Emory Winship: great and incredibly developed, intelligent faculty and staff, terrible wait times and very short sessions with your doctors. These findings led me to begin researching and blogging about my journey, as well as incorporating helpful tips for other cancer patients.

My blog, and my drive to help other cancer patients, was taken to a new level when I joined Team in Training (TNT). One of the other things that most people don't really think about doing in their lifetime is participating in a half-marathon, full-marathon, or a triathlon. This is especially the case when you're just two months out of treatment. I've always been...a unique type of person. After my diagnosis, I incorporated walking into my "treatment". Initially, it was purely to combat the fatigue that would come during the later months of chemotherapy. Looking back, I realize that not only was my walking the "first step" towards my involvement with TNT and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but also towards a tremendous cause- giving back to the cancer community.

I didn't think that I could do it. I hadn't heard of many cancer survivors doing something like a half-marathon so early into remission. However, the same motivation that led me to start my blog was not forgotten. I would not abandon my drive to give back to the cancer community, because it was a promise that I had made to myself during treatment. So often we are caught up in our own lives and our own battles that we fail to see the bigger picture. We fail to see the others who are also struggling along the way. This past November, I joined my first half-marathon with the Georgia North Fulton-Forsyth TNT team and turned my blog into my running blog.

I had never fundraised before in my life, and I never imagined that I could raise over $3000. For one, I am a young adult and the majority of my friends are "poor" working young adults as well. Somehow (and I thank God for this), the funds were provided and I met my minimum. I never ran this much before in my life, and most definitely not with a chemo-riddled body. My joints are stiffer, I’m slower, recovery takes longer... but my team is awesome...-er.

The reason I love my team is because they are not only super supportive, but they keep me accountable. From the managers to the coaches, the weekly emails, and the Facebook page posts... it all keeps me driven to run. And if I can't run, I walk. Accountability keeps me focused on the cause, and the cause gives me reason to do one more good thing in what I love to call "my second life".

Vera pictured at a social event in October 2012 with friend, Rebecca, one month after being placed in remission!

There is a new slang term "YOLO", that claims “You Only Live Once”. Personally, "YOLT", “You Only Live Twice” is my truth. If you don't make life count the first time, well...for many of us there just may be a second chance.

Go Team.

 Vera Lim is currently fundraising and training with Team in Training for Nike Women's Marathon Half-DC taking place in April 2013.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Racing in First Half Ironman, 240 Pounds Lighter by Ashley Johnston

Just a few short years ago, I weighed over 400lbs.

Exercise and racing became a way for me to turn my life around and lose weight. I have completed several 5ks, 10ks, triathlons, half marathons and even my first full marathon this past March. Now, I am taking on a new goal: to complete a half Ironman.

Having competed in numerous races and events, I had seen the "wave of purple" before but never knew what it was or what it stood for. What I saw though was incredible support, lots of people on the sidelines wearing purple and cheering, and the constant shouts of "Go Team." When I set my sights on training for my first half Ironman, it was then that a close friend recommended that I look into Team In Training. I finally found out what all the purple was about!

It wasn't long before I learned that TNT was about more than just the purple and the cheering. I learned that I would be on a team with other athletes training and raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that really hit home with me. Two of the most important men in my life battle this horrible disease; my uncle Rob has Lymphoma and my grandfather John has Leukemia. It was then that I knew I wasn't doing this for myself anymore. I was doing this one for my uncle and my grandfather and for a cause much larger than me.

Team In Training has honestly been one of the best experiences of my entire life! For the past six months, I've trained with some amazing people, heard amazing stories and raised a lot money to fight cancer. I've also made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I never thought I could bond so quickly with my teammates, but our team has been just that amazing!

I'm so blessed to have found my way here to the TNT family and, in just a few short days, I will complete a dream with my awesome teammates and coaches by my side. I'll swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles and when it gets tough, I'll think of my heroes! No pain I feel amounts to the pain that they feel by having cancer.

I am now 240lbs smaller since I started on this journey a few years ago to lose weight and get fit. I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that I'd be able to complete such a feat and, in doing so, help so many people. But I can and it feels great!


About the author: Ashley Johnston was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She is currently a marketing representative for a large insurance company specializing in business, personal and life insurance and is an active member of Team Cadence Bikes & Multisport.