I am horribly out of shape right now. Post-baby, post-surgery and neck deep in a huge event that is preventing me from finding any time to workout (let alone sleep). Believe it or not, I used to be a marathon runner. Yup. I have run seven marathons and of the seven, I have run five Boston Marathons.
Each time I ran Boston, I ran for a charity. One of the charities I always wanted to run for, however, was the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Team in Training (TNT) program. In the summer of 1994, a college friend of mine passed away after a long battle with Hodgkin’s Disease. Her name was Jennifer Powell.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fights for people like Jennifer. While she did not survive, the survival rate has dramatically improved in the past 50 years – in my opinion probably because of the one billion dollars LLS has invested. However, half still don’t survive. As a result, LLS has become the largest voluntary health agency dedicated to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkins Disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of the people, and the families, that are affected.
They have a wonderful marathon training program – with support for personal physical goals – and support for raising money for their amazing research efforts. They have trained more than 570,000 people in the 25 years of the Team in Training Program and have raised lots of money in the process. There are over 200 accredited national and local events from which to choose – everything from bike rides, to marathons, to hiking adventures. There is something for everyone at every fitness level. You can see the full list on the Team in Training website to see if the team in training marathon schedule (or any of the schedules), the cause, and the race, calls to you. I have pounded the pavement, and trained on many roads, but this a great road to a cure.
If you have ever wanted to run a marathon, you can do it. It requires time and commitment, but it can be done. You know you are ready to run a marathon if you can run 6 miles consistently. So, how do you do that? My post on how to train for your first 5k is a start. If you have never run a marathon before, running with a group like Team in Training is so important beyond the fundraising. Having a support system is key to success. Having access to trainers that can help you manage why you have sore knees or with your running challenges, and what kind of clothing to wear, is a valuable resource that first timers should have access to. They are also there to help you raise the money. Ideas for fundraisers, wording for letters, reminders to get them in the mail, you truly have a personal coach on many levels. It makes it fun, social, educational and successful.
Running for a charity gives you that higher purpose, that support system and those friendships that training for a marathon alone doesn’t give you. Running is a solitary sport but these teams bring back the community in running and bring community support to families that need it.
I have crossed seven marathon finish lines and countless other finish lines in the triathlons, half marathons, 10k and 5k races I have run. But LLS’s mission of getting to the ultimate finish line is one I hope to see crossed – the cure of blood cancers. If anything, just to remember Jennifer.