My TEAM in Training Experience
Participating in a triathlon has been on my bucket list for quite some time. The endurance aspect always intrigued me, but since I really had no other underlying motivation to do one immediately, there was really no telling when I would actually get around to doing it.
Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve been working with a gentleman by the name of Charles Arnold. He’s a fellow consultant from a different firm who has been working for the same client. He’s exceptionally good at what does, and I genuinely admire him professionally for a variety of reasons. One day, I asked him about his work-out regimen, as he frequently made reference to new ideas he’d have during his morning runs. He then proceeded to tell me about Team in Training, triathlons and his wife, Kate. I was touched. I immediately wanted to get involved without really grasping the actual commitment requirements. Honestly, I didn’t care. Just hearing the passion in his voice had me hooked. Within 20 minutes, Charles was on the phone with the local DC chapter to get me started with the registration process.
Fast forward about two weeks, and I was beginning to experience some cold feet. I was struck with the harsh realization that I genuinely didn’t know how to swim, hadn’t ridden a bike since I was twelve and hated to run…unless it was after a soccer ball. I don’t know how, but maybe Charles’ Yoda-like senses felt I was freaking out a bit. He invited me for a run, even though I knew I’d be sucking wind. We chatted a good portion of the time, exchanging stories about work, life, you name it.
But there was one part of our chat that I’ll never forget: Charles had just finished describing the evolution of his career and how amazing everything in his professional and personal life was going, and then, just like that…everything changed when his wife was diagnosed with lymphoma. He went on to say that he does what he does in the hope that he can help even one person avoid what his wife and family experienced. I was moved and inspired. Later that night, I talked to my wife for hours about that conversation. Every night, for weeks, that very same conversation would replay in my head. I guess it just struck close to home given our similar career paths, and the early stages of my family life are going as well as his were. ‘It can happen to anyone,’ I kept thinking. The illness does not discriminate. I should be thankful for all of my good fortune and commit fully to making a difference wherever I can. From that day forward, never again would I doubt why I was participating.
Kathleen has frequently poked fun at me as I guess I’ve had a tendency to mention Charles’ name a lot during my training. Charles this…and Charles that. At one point, she even accused me of having a bromance. What can I say, it’s not every day that I meet someone that inspires me both professionally and personally. Looking back, I’m quite astounded by the impact someone I didn’t even know 6 months ago has had on my life perspective. OK, maybe there is a slight bromance there. Don’t tell him I said that.
About a month or so leading up to the race, Charles shared a speech he had been working on for an ”inspiration dinner”. It’s basically an event to do a little socializing, carbo-loading, and most importantly revisit the mission for the cause. The event is held the night before the race to fire up participants. As luck would have it, he was asked to be a guest speaker this year. My abbreviated words cannot do this speech justice, so I’ll just share the link: Click here to view. I dare you to read it and not want to get involved in some way.
Now that you know why I got involved, I wanted to take a moment to pass along a very special thank you to those who supported me on my journey to give back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The race was held on a significant anniversary (September 11th) in our Nation’s Capital. The experience, in a nutshell, was both uplifting and humbling. Thousands of athletes joined from all over the country to compete and bring focus to an incredible cause.
I must admit that in the days leading up to the event I was nervous. My “Type A” side had started to rear its ugly head as I tossed and turned night after night thinking about how I’d perform. The feeling was remarkably similar to how I felt playing competitive soccer growing up; I guess old habits die hard.
Much to my surprise, however, that feeling would instantly melt away the morning of the race. I had made my way to a bustling hotel lobby at 4:30 a.m. to catch a shuttle service to the event. Even at that early hour, I immediately noticed small personalized notes on many of the athlete’s jerseys. Some had quotes of inspiration, but many were in honor of lost loved ones. How well I performed didn’t really seem to matter to me at that point: I just felt honored to be part of a cause that was infinitely more important than I am.
Unfortunately, the swim leg of the race was cancelled due to the flooding from the previous week, but the endurance challenge was still very much there. I tackled the bike portion of the ride quite well, and covered 25 miles in a respectable 1 hr and 15 min. I then eased into my 6.2 mile run and hit cruise control. 56 minutes later, I would cross the finish line at a 9 min 7 sec pace. All told, I completed the event in 2 hrs 15 minutes and 38 seconds. I kid you not when I say the event came and went in what felt like the blink of an eye. It was very much akin to how I felt on my wedding day.
With the help of family, friends and colleagues, I was able to raise $3,525.00! This contributed to the over $300,000 raised by my Chapter alone! I’m very proud that I was able to play a small part in helping to accelerate finding cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and bring increased hope to the patients and families who are on the front lines of the battle against these blood cancers.
Below is a very special video I crafted to capture the essence of my experience with Team in Training. What can I say? I’m a sap that likes to chronicle life experiences, especially one of this importance. Go TEAM!