Monday, November 22, 2010

What A Difference A Year Makes by Karen Cole

Karen Cole leaping for joy at the 2010 Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.
Like many of you, I had received those aspirational Team in Training brochures in the mail – the ones with pictures of triumphant athletes, proudly wearing their race numbers affixed to their purple Team jerseys. I remember thumbing through them thinking: these people just ran and biked a very large number of miles, yet they still look glowing and fabulous. Could I bottle this in a face cream, I wondered? I always just stacked those brochures in a “I’ll-get-to-that-one-day” pile.

Then that “one day” came suddenly last year in September, and I went digging through my pile. This time I was driven by a promise I wanted to make to my oldest and dearest friend. Evie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just a few short weeks before her wedding last October. Talk about the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. For Evie’s bridal shower, the plan was to not give her gifts that we purchased, but instead give meaningful expressions or tokens of friendship and love. Driven by fear and a sense of helplessness for what to do, I decided that my gift to Evie was doing a race in her honor and raising money for LLS.

As I sit here writing, it dawns on me that this week marks my one year involvement with TNT. I saved my “Welcome to Team In Training” email and I recently opened it and a smile came across my face. The person who opened that email exactly a year ago was, lets just say, a little frightened wondering how the heck she was going to fundraise and run more than…well, to her mailbox. I remember driving home from the information meeting thinking, what have I done?! But the email I received the next day confirmed I had indeed signed myself up for my first race, the ING half marathon on March 21, 2010. It was official and in bold letters, so it was true.

Opening that same email today, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride. Little did I know, I would actually run WAY past my mailbox and exceed my fundraising goals. My Team in Training journey this year includes completing three half marathons, one marathon and mentoring a team of new participants. Whew! Evie has been my inspiration through it all, propelling me farther than I thought was even possible. She’s still battling lymphoma, so I keep going for her putting good TNT vibes into the universe.

As the winter TNT season is winding down, and the participants I’m helping to mentor are achieving their goals, it’s hard to believe I was in their exact running shoes just a year ago. I was with my mentees at the ZOOMA half marathon at Chateau Elan a few weekends ago, and it was so awesome to see the excitement of race day through their eyes and all the hard work pay off. While I know to a lot of veteran TNTers, one year maybe isn’t a lot, but it feels like I’ve been wearing purple forever!

Well, a year later I am still sort of wondering about that miracle face cream – but on second thought…nah, I don’t need it. I’m wearing my own post-race glow.

Karen Cole has been busy with Team In Training in 2010 having finished the Nike Women's Marathon with the TEAM back in October and even more recently having acted as mentor for the ZOOMA Atlanta Half Marathon TEAM. As she puts it, it's almost as if she's been wearing purple forever. Follow her blog at Thanks Karen for sharing and for being a part of Team In Training!

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