Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Look Back at the 2009 Nike Women's Marathon by Bonnie Gartley

From the moment we all started meeting each other something special happened. The journey started on a beautiful spring day in May. We met our team honored hero Kate, our coach, staff, teammates, and mentors. We snapped our first team picture and we were off. October seemed so far away. Five months away to be exact. Who knew what we were in store for.

We ran, a lot, we laughed, and shared, sometimes a little too much… We became a family. We rallied around teammates who had surgery for cancer, and those who lost to cancer. We learned what to eat (carbs are your friend), proper form, breathing, how to prevent injuries, that shoes are important, and “cotton is rotten!” And since it was summer in Atlanta we sweated. Boy did we ever sweat! Our fabulous co-captains looked out for us with fun raffles, bagel crack, I mean bagel chips (I highly recommend the cinnamon sugar ones, although the plain ones are pretty darn tasty too!), and post run tailgates. One teammate convinced us all that we loved bacon, and another hung around until everyone returned with a smile, a hug, and a big hell yeah. Before we knew it we were running our last long run of 20 or 12 miles. It was an adventure with three different courses right after the great flood. And then October arrived. “The hay is in the barn,” we were told. “Don’t do anything new on race day.” It was time to decorate our fabulous TNT singlets, and pack our team shirts. With the help of our fabulous staff coordinator we all made it on the plane.

We were little balls of energy the whole plane ride. No one sat through the whole flight. There were plans for In and Out burgers, sight seeing, trips to the expo to pick up our race packets, and so much more. Oh, and there was a race for us to run too. A race with amazing views of the bay, piers that smelled of sourdough bread as we ran past, ocean views, and a park that smelled like eucalyptus. We went over the hills of San Francisco, down a cliff, along the great highway, and around a lake. And at the end of it all were firemen in tuxedos holding silver platters stacked with little blue boxes!

In the end it wasn’t just a race. It was a chance to do something great for others while doing something I love. And along the road I discovered my new “family.” So here’s to a great five months full of friends, fun, bacon, bagel crack, and a whole bunch of Hell Yeah. Can’t wait for the next one!

Thanks Bonnie for your guest blog entry! We are glad you shared your TNT experience. You can also follow Bonnie on her blog at The Running Violinist. Check out this video compiled by Bonnie:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coach Jo's Rants #3: I Love Frozen Peas

I love frozen peas. When I was a kid, I used to ask my mom if I could just eat them that way. She’d cook the heck out of them, and I couldn’t stand their consistency. My sister and I would have contests at dinner to see who could hide more of her peas. She’d mix them in to her mashed potatoes. I’d take a mouthful of peas, then a gulp of milk….and then I’d spit all the peas into my milk glass (we must have drank whole milk, because you couldn’t see the peas through the milk). I’d win.

In high school, I had what was known as a ‘Zero Period’ class. It met from 6:55 am to 7:45 am. And it was Calculus (we had some mean administrators, let me tell you). Anyhow, being a teenager, I never woke up in time to have breakfast before going to Zero Period. I’d roll out of bed at the last possible second and race to the school in my ’69 Camaro Berlinetta (thanks, dad!), all the while wondering if I’d done my homework on derivatives correctly. I’d plop down in class with my travel mug of coffee and my Ziploc bag filled with….you guessed it….frozen peas. People would look at me funny (including the teacher), but I didn’t care. Frozen peas are brain food, I tell ya!

It wasn’t until much later in life….like 15 years later…that I learned of yet another fantastic use of frozen peas (which I’m sure you all know…). You can use them instead of ice when icing an injury. I was reminded of this application late last week. Here’s the story:

Last Wednesday, I was in a minor fender bender. Don’t get concerned…I’m fine! I was driving on a two lane road, and a woman was making a right turn out of a parking lot onto the road. She made one hell of a wide right turn. Right into my driver side rear bumper!!! It jarred my car hard enough that I shouted a few choice expletives before stopping the car to inspect the damage. I pulled over, set my e-brake, and got out of the car. Here’s the kicker…the woman who hit me kept driving!!! I was (LIVID, FURIOUS, INCREDULOUS) quite upset by this behavior, and in the most adult manner possible, I stomped around my car, flailing my arms wildly in an attempt to get noticed by her so that she would stop.

She did. Eventually. About thirty feet away, facing the opposite direction so that she could make a quick get away. When she exited her mini-van, she put her hands on her hips and shouted (she had to shout because she was THIRTY FEET AWAY), “I mean…is there even any damage?” She sounded exasperated. (SHE sounded exasperated? She didn’t know the first thing about exasperated. Short-tempered. Furious.) I (not so) casually shouted back, “Have you even looked at your car?” At this point, she strolled to the front of her vehicle and glanced at her front bumper. Her response, “I mean…the bumper is separated, but I’ll just get that fixed….Are you okay?”
Am I okay. Am I okay? (LIVID. FURIOUS. INCREDULOUS. She was going to just drive away. She was going to HIT someone and just drive away!) Am I okay? As best I could tell, physically, I was a little shaken up, maybe somewhat jarred. Emotionally, my very short-temper was about to burst into flames. Knowing that restraint is not my strong suit, I SHOUTED back, “Thanks for asking.” (The Italics are used to emphasize the not-so-nice-ness of my tone.) At that point, I stomped back into my car and drove away. I was afraid that if I stayed there one second longer, I might have punched her.

Okay, so you’re thinking, “Nice rant, Jo.” It has a point. I swear. (My sister always appreciates when my stories have points. It’s rarer than you’d think.) When I got home that night, my back was twingy. (This might have had something to do with the fact that, after the incident, I went and ran for 6 miles. I know, I know. Bad idea. But here’s the skinny. For the last five years, whenever I’ve had a problem, I’ve gone on a run. Team In Training taught me to do that. Of course, I run best when I’m angry. And I had a great run that night.) As I was getting cleaned up and thinking about scheduling a massage, I remembered the bag of frozen peas that I had in my freezer. I think I actually bought them about three years ago. To eat. Frozen. But since that time, they have served a much greater purpose of icing a multitude of twinges, whether from runs, bike rides or minor fender benders. I sat on the couch, with the peas pressed against my back and thought, “I love frozen peas.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Running is Like Soup by Julie Wolfe

Sometimes, you just have to let things simmer, and they turn out awesome. This was one of those weeks.

I’ve been struggling on sticking to the Team in Training schedule. I just came off running a great half marathon. I feel strong. I feel fast. Sticking to the low mileage at the beginning of the ING training has been hard. Our coach, Barb Stinson, sent out an e-mail warning against pushing too hard: “Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” I have a clear running goal: finish the ING Georgia marathon in under four hours (the bigger goal: raise money to help find a cure). I’ve tried (and failed) in the past to run a sub-four marathon. I tried it my way, it didn’t work. Now, I’m trying it this way. And this week, something just clicked.

I’m feeling so good on my runs, so strong. I know things will get a lot harder, but I have a good feeling I’ve hit my stride for training (and found some great TNT runners at my pace to keep me company!).

I’m using my new motto “Running is like soup” to keep me on track (thanks, Barb for these tips)!

To read the rest of Julie's story, visit 11Alive.com. Julie Wolfe, backpack reporter for 11Alive News, is training and fundraising with the Team In Training ING Georgia Marathon team. Follow along as Julie blogs and tweets about her TNT experience. Copyright 2009 11Alive/WXIA-TV

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

$1 Billion for Charity! Endurance athletes cross major fundraising milestone!

Great news today from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's home office in White Plains, NY!!

Team In Training (TNT), The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) groundbreaking charity sports training program, has reached a remarkable milestone of raising $1 billion to support blood cancer research and patient services.

For more than 21 years, TNT has been the pre-eminent charity endurance sports training program, preparing amateurs and seasoned athletes to complete a marathon, half marathon, triathlon, 100-mile century cycle ride or hike adventure. Through the program’s expert coaching and support, more than 420,000 people have experienced the exhilaration of embracing and achieving a major athletic feat. The enormous success of TNT has made possible advances in blood cancer research, helping to find better therapies and treatments that have prolonged and enhanced the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients.

TNT began in 1988, when Bruce Cleland, a Westchester County, NY, businessman, spurred on a group of 38 to train for the New York City Marathon while they raised money for leukemia research in response to his own young daughter’s diagnosis with the disease. Cleland enlisted friend and Olympian Rod Dixon to train them. That first team raised $320,000 for LLS; and so a movement was born.

“I had been supporting LLS, organizing galas and other events like that, but I wanted to do more – something different. And then it occurred to me: let’s bring a group of non-athletes together, train them, and run a marathon together for the cause,” recalled Cleland. “Who would ever have thought, way back in 1988, that this program would have grown into the force that it is today? I am so awed at all the effort that has gone into the program, by LLS and the TNT staff, by the 420,000 participants, and of course by all the extraordinarily generous donors.”

The idea quickly began to catch on with other chapters, and during the 1990s, walk, cycle and triathlon were added to the mix. Spectators at the events quickly began to recognize the signature purple jersey worn proudly by TNT participants. The advent of online fundraising has also helped the program grow.

TNT continues to provide high caliber training by certified coaches and participants have the camaraderie of a group of supportive teammates while they train. In addition to weekly training sessions TNT offers clinics on nutrition, equipment, injury prevention and safety.

Among the more than 200 national and local events TNT participants can attend, the program has increasingly been adding more co-branded events to its roster, including The Nike Women’s Marathon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; the Nation’s Triathlon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; the Women’s Running Magazine Women’s Half Marathon and 5K to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“TNT helps participants realize their dream of taking on the most challenging of athletic events while raising money to conquer blood cancers,” said LLS President and CEO John Walter. “There can be no denying the influence TNT has had on the world of endurance sports, granting everyday athletes access to venues that were once only the realm of the sports elite. And TNT has been the big engine driving LLS’s progress, enabling the expansion of our research and patient services initiatives.”

TNT is currently recruiting for its summer season, which includes the and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe and the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, AK. To learn more visit www.teamintraining.org or call 1.800.482-TEAM.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coach Jo’s Rant #2: Principles of Dating (a Parody of the Coaches Clinic)

All the Single Ladies (all the Single Ladies)! Put your hands up!

Lord knows there are lots of us single ladies in the Team In Training program. And as we spend time at the beginning of each season talking about training, I thought it would be apropos to spend some time relating the principles of training to the world of dating.

Dating Etiquette/Safety: When preparing to go on a date, make sure you have both the rules of etiquette and safety under control. For instance, just like when you go running, don’t wear headphones on your date. You want to be attentive to what is happening on the date. That’s hard to do if you’re rocking out to some TSwift or Party in the USA. Also, make sure you have a safety plan. Akin to the TNT Hotline, make sure you have your own dating hotline. Call a girlfriend to let her know where you’re going, who you’re meeting and what time you plan to return home. Tell her you’ll call or text her when you get there, so that she knows your safe.

Stretching: Just like on your training runs, it’s a good idea to stretch before a date. You want to be relaxed and ready to enjoy your entertaining evening.

Dating Specifics: The purpose of dating is to find a person with whom you may want to spend extensive time with. In order to do that, you need to follow a dating schedule. This is not as specific as your TNT training schedule…in fact, it’s slightly more challenging. You have to GET OUT THERE. Make sure you are scheduling dates at least twice a week. Do not be concerned with how long each date lasts…it’s not the length of the date that matters, it’s the quality. On your date, you want to keep your heart rate at 60-70% of its maximum. (Interpret that as you wish…ahem.) Remember to dress appropriately. You must be careful to neither under-dress nor over-dress. Don’t forget to keep your toe nails trimmed. And remember, your REST day is as important as your Date Nights.

Nutrition: Nothing new on Date Night! Do NOT try food you haven’t tried before…what if it doesn’t sit well in your stomach? You certainly don’t want intestinal upset to interrupt your magical encounter. You should eat a good, full meal. Don’t pretend that you aren’t hungry in front of a new man. We run as much as we do so we can EAT. Do it!

Injuries: So you went on a FANTASTIC date, and he hasn’t called. What do you do? When it comes to potential injuries (including heartbreak), remember that LESS IS MORE. You can seek the advice of your injury support team (read: other TNT girlfriends). They will provide you with endless support, a good venting run and probably some Ellwood’s after.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coach Jo's Rants #1

Do you watch that new TV show Glee? It’s right up my alley. Dorky kids, the outcasts of the high school, singing their hearts out under the direction of one VERY hot teacher. Sounds like my high school experience…minus the hot teacher, that is. I was in the high school choir, the girls’ barbershop quartet and the National Honor Society. I never hung with the popular kids, unless they wanted help with their homework or something. I was valedictorian of my high school, aka Nerd Extraordinaire.

On top of all of that, I was a dork. No kidding. I thought derivatives, and the ability to work them, were cool. I enjoyed having study groups on Friday nights (you know, with all the other dorks), as we prepared for our AP exams. …and I wondered why the only dances I went to were the Sadie Hawkins dances (where the girl asks the guy)…

I know some of you out there are saying, “Well, Jo, not much has changed.” And I guess some of you are right. I am still a dork. But the difference is that now, as an adult, I don’t care what other people think like I did when I was in high school. And I owe that attitude to Team In Training.

When I started with Team In Training, I lacked self-confidence…and I was terrified of the possibility of failing. But after the first few weeks, I realized I had nothing of which to be scared. The people involved in the community of Team In Training exude hospitality. I was SO excited about the possibility of not only becoming an athlete, but also of becoming a good athlete, that I almost immediately starting asking about how I could become faster, better, stronger. My coach and team mentors just smiled and nodded: I had caught the bug. But the bug wasn’t necessarily about being an athlete. It was about being accepted. And I was.

That’s one of the reasons I love Team In Training so much: everybody fits. Sure, I’m still a dork. But I’m happy to be a dork if it means finding a cure for cancer.

Next week: Rant on Dating v. Training

Friday, November 20, 2009

King Loses Father to Cancer then Fights-and Swims, Bikes and Runs-to Help Find a Cure!

In 1989, when he was just 23 years old, Michael King got a call everyone dreads. His mother, living in Connecticut, called Michael in San Diego. "Your father has cancer. It's leukemia." Not knowing very much about the disease and without the help of the internet, Michael didn't know how serious it was until a co-worker asked him what stage of the disease his father was in. "Then I knew it was serious," Michael says "and it wasn't something that could just be fixed with medicine." For the next few months Michael and his family were by his father's side as he fought the disease. His dad was eventually treated in Seattle where he received a bone marrow transplant. "We had great hope. My dad had two perfect matches and we were confident he would be ok," Michael says.

But he wasn't. Within nine months of being diagnosed, Michael lost his dad to leukemia.

Eleven years later Michael got another call that would change his life. His younger brother—married with two young children—called to tell Michael that his wife, Sue, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Not just leukemia but the exact kind of leukemia his dad died of—Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. "I was stunned and shocked. I was so angry because this was happening again," Michael said. But this time it was different and it was something that could be fixed with medicine. Sue didn't have a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant but, luckily, only a few months earlier a drug was approved, Gleevec, to help CML patients. "Since then Sue has taken Gleevec -- a pill--everyday. She is doing great. At a recent family reunion I couldn't help but watch how full of energy she was. This pill has made a huge difference in our lives and saved Sue's life!"

Michael soon learned that Gleevec was developed with funding from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society—through money raised, in large part, from participants in Team In Training. Team In Training® (TNT) is a program that trains people to complete marathons, triathlons and cycle events. In exchange for raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, participants are provided coaching and the guidance needed to complete in the event of their choice.

For Michael, it was a way to give back. "I had heard about TNT and I knew it was something I needed to be a part of. One day down the road Sue may need a new drug to help her with her leukemia and I don't want anyone to lose a dad, like I did," Michael says.

Michael has now completed five triathlons with Team In Training and, along with his wife, has raised $23,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He was so inspired by the program he is now a triathlon coach; showing others how they can also make a difference.

"Once I became part of Team In Training, my life changed forever. My wife and I (who has also completed triathlons through TNT) have made friends that are like family to us. The fact that I can also DO something, rather than just donating to a cause, has been great. The feeling of crossing that finish line is something that can't be described—it's amazing," Michael says.

And, as he completes the triathlons, his dad and sister-in-law are in his thoughts during every stroke of his swim, pedal of the bike, and step of the run. And when he crosses that finish line, he is humbled for the difference he is making for those battling cancer.

View the video links below for FOX 5-TV coverage of Michael, his wife Nanci and the 2007 St. Anthony's Team In Training triathlon team:

Michael & Nanci http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OYfwzpTWs4

Coaches http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-sL8TjGexM&feature=related

Ed Sanford, Honored Hero and teammate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gem0Q6eBaIk&feature=related

Race weekend (St. Anthony's 2007) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuT-iT4wXMs&feature=related

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Noreen Zuñiga's Thanksgiving by Lori Rasmussen

When Noreen Zuñiga’s son Daniel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in October of 2003, Team In Training (TNT) had been around for many years. Thousands of folks had volunteered their time to train for endurance events and raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). In fact, at that time, TNT had raised millions of dollars for LLS. As noble as this is, it is doubtful that Noreen was overly concerned with this. The Zuñiga’s were participating in an endurance event of their own—without the benefit of any advanced training. They were fighting, as a family, to save Daniel’s life.

Daniel was a 16-year old football player. The Friday before his diagnosis he played in a football game for Chamblee High School. He had some headaches that were slowing him down on the field so Noreen took him to visit the pediatrician. In one visit, everything changed. All efforts were deployed to get Daniel healthy. Noreen took a leave of absence from her job and the Zuñiga’s went from a two-income family to a one-income family for several months. There were hospital visits, insurance forms to fill out, co-pays to meet, and duties and expenses that hadn’t existed the month before. Noreen describes it as overwhelming.

Enter The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Terry Sexton, an LLS staffer, walked alongside the Zuñiga family throughout the course of Daniel’s treatment. She offered moral support and practical advice to help Noreen and her family navigate this strange new world. When you talk to Noreen today, she expresses overwhelming gratitude for Terry, LLS, and the TNT family. She reminisces about Daniel being the Honored Hero for the Vancouver Marathon in 2005 and how much that meant to them. She talks about how her faith and the prayers of friends and strangers kept them going. And she talks about giving back.

Today, Daniel is cancer-free and Noreen and her daughter Katie are training and raising money for LLS! On Thanksgiving Day, Noreen and Katie will complete a half-marathon in Atlanta with the Team In Training family. Every mile they cover is their way of giving back and ensuring that the help that was so valuable to them will continue to be there for other families.

Noreen knows what percentage of money goes to help blood cancer patients and fund research. She knows the work it takes to train for five months to participate in a half marathon. She understands the costs of researching the drugs that will help blood cancer patients. And she is extremely grateful for all of that. But when she crosses the finish line Thanksgiving morning, she will probably not be focused on that. Instead, she will be sending prayers of thanksgiving that Daniel has been cancer-free for two years! She’ll know that the money she and Katie raise will help one more family deal with the unthinkable. And she’ll know that every step they covered will bring us one step closer to a cure.

11Alive backpack reporter, Julie Wolfe covered Noreen's story. Click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why I Run by Joanna Berentsen

January 2004

I had just left my job as a youth minister, and had filled my void of being involved in the Greater Good with tater tots. Yes, tater tots. And ketchup. Lots of ketchup. Maybe a fried buffalo chicken sandwich on the side. And a chocolate malt. You get the idea.

I was sitting on my couch popping tater tots, and wondering about my contribution to society when the mail came. An odd tri-fold flier for an organization called Team In Training sat amidst the junk mail. I opened it. Intrigued, I went to an information meeting.

At the time, I weighed 208 pounds. Aside from the tots, my biggest hobbies were smoking, throwing back some cocktails and playing cards. Lots of calories burned in the last one. And I had just signed up for an adventure (with some sort of race involved) to raise money to help find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood related cancers. I was told I’d learn how to run, kayak and mountain bike. I laughed, but signed up anyway.

After the first group training, I went home and cried. I felt so sick. I could barely run a mile.
Stick to the schedule. That’s what I kept hearing. Stick to the schedule. Every day, I did what was on the calendar. I was given so much support: a mentor who called me every week to check in on my training and fundraising, a top notch coach who diligently helped me learn about weight training, spin classes, endurance running, mountain biking. And a team that helped me with that pivotal piece: confidence. You can do this.

And I did it.

June 2004

We finished the adventure race. My team finished in second place (out of all the Team In Training teams)! I had traded tater tots for spinach salads, cigarettes for gum, but I still had the occasional chocolate malt. I was 165 pounds. I had taken step to take care of me – and Team In Training was the vehicle for that self-care.

Of course, it didn’t stop there. Not surprisingly, I was addicted. I ran my first marathon in October of 2004. And another one in October of 2005. I ran through more weight loss. I ran through a divorce (I wanted to liken myself to Kristen Armstrong, but I wasn’t that fast…). I ran through joy and I ran through pain. But I was never alone.

I have made the best friends of my life through Team In Training. The women I met in 2004 moved my stuff three times during my divorce (we still joke about the metallic green prom dress). If that doesn’t speak volumes about the depth of our friendship, I don’t know what does. Or maybe I do.

How about this? My 2004 teammates are STILL my teammates today. We are all training for an adventure race and a triathlon together. We are still a constant source of love, support and encouragement…oh yeah, and built in training buddies.

In 2004, I started with the vague notion of ‘doing something good.’ In the process, I met this woman I really like: me. Happy, healthy and usually around 145 pounds…I am the woman I am supposed to be. Thanks to the community known as Team In Training.

But the best is yet to come. My greatest joy is that I am a running coach for the program and that I will be leading a group to this year’s Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.

Now, I run to share my passion with others – to do good and to help others find their true selves. I have the pleasure of coaching some of the most amazing men and women who are drawn to an awesome cause: to find a cure for blood related cancers. This is what real life is about.

Come find yourself. Come run with Team In Training!

Check out Coach Jo with Honored Hero Kate on 11Alive News! Click here.