Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Runner Finds Support with Team In Training by James Hervey

A lot of people come to Team In Training as a result of a close friend or family member who has blood cancer. A lot are even survivors. There is a whole other contingent of people who are considering training for their first ever endurance event and don’t know if they can do it on their own. My story is a little bit different.

I fell in love with running when I was quitting a 2-pack-a-day smoking habit. On April 1 five years ago, I was a heavy smoker and pretty sedentary. I started having serious problems dealing with stress driving home from work in the evening. I was quite a heavy smoker in the car and it helped me deal with the traffic. Absent the smoke, I didn’t know what to do until a friend suggested I try running.

I had no gear then, no running shoes and no technical clothes, just an old pair of Reeboks and some soccer shorts. That first run only lasted about 10 minutes and I was hurting. When I was done with it though a funny thing had happened; my stress was a little relieved.

The days went by and I kept smoke free and running. Soon I ran a 5K race and then a 10K race. Before I knew it I had registered for the 2006 Disney Marathon and was actively training for it. Of course, I met the injury monster for the first time. I hurt my hip and my knee and had to withdraw. It was a pretty serious downer and I stayed off running for four or five months.
And then I came back with a vengeance. Less than a year after my first injury I ran the Las Vegas Marathon in December of 2006. This was followed by the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in 2007 and the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington just a few months later. Three marathons in no time at all - I was cruising for sure. I put my name in to the lottery for the NYC Marathon and the streak kept going as I got in.

And then….

You guessed it. The injury monster struck again; the left foot this time. This one was much worse too. I went into a walking boot in the fall of 2007 and stayed in it for week. I stayed out of running shoes for almost the first half of 2008. When I finally laced back up I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it again. Running had become such a part of my life and I couldn’t stomach not doing it again.

I ran the Big Peach Fall Five Miler in late 2008 and it was my test case. If I did okay I was going to give a half marathon a whirl. I was scared though. No doubt about it. For some reason I still don’t really know, I talked to the people manning the Team In Training booth and signed the sheet. Then I walked away and forgot about it.

I forgot about it, that is, until about two weeks later. I was sitting at my desk literally staring at the ING Georgia Marathon course when my phone rang. It was someone from the TNT office wondering if I was interested in signing up.

In that moment it all made sense. I wanted so bad to try a marathon again, but I was scared and didn’t know if I could do it. The idea of having a team behind me was so appealing, I agreed to sign up right then and there. The TNT office emailed me the paperwork and I faxed it back within the hour.

So I came to Team In Training looking for support, and looking for help getting back this thing that I loved, distance running. And boy did I find it. That 2009 ING Georgia Marathon team was amazing. The support, the friendship, the training plan – everything clicked together. I ran that race, two months shy of two years after my last marathon in a personal record and I got hooked on TNT.

I got hooked on the people and the cause. If you stick around TNT it won’t take long for the cause of finding a cure for blood cancers to become personal. So many survivors and families are part of the TNT family, and you make so many friends doing TNT that there really is no way it can’t become personal.

After finishing the ING Georgia Marathon, I almost immediately signed up for Marine Corps Marathon and ran that in 2009 as well with TNT. I was rewarded with amazing friendships and a pretty damn cool medal for that endeavor.

And now I am preparing to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon as a mentor for Team In Training, trying to do my part to carry on the amazing support that Erin, my first mentor, and Ken, my second mentor gave me.

I’ll be back for more too. I might take some time off; I’ve fallen in love with trail running you see, and I want to try my hand at some ultra-marathons, but I will be back. Once the TNT bug bit me, there really is no doubt.

James Hervey is a two-time Team In Training alumnus and is now mentoring on the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon team. James is an avid blogger and you can visit his blog at http://thearcoftime.com/.

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