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Team In Training



If you've read my page, Becoming a Runner, then you already know that my path toward becoming a marathoner began with Team In Training.  Team In Training, or TNT, as we call it, is an amazing experience!  For anyone who is not aware of what the Team is or does, I will explain it first before I elaborate on my connection with it.  TNT is an organization that recruits and trains regular, every day people with little or no experience in endurance sporting events to complete and then compete in an event such as a half-marathon, marathon, triathlon, century ride, or major hike (ie. The Grand Canyon).  When the training is complete, the Team brings you to the event you signed up for, covering your transportation and lodging costs, as well as a few other bonuses...such as the Pasta Party before your event and the Victory Dinner after your event.  In exchange for training you and bringing you to your event, you commit to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  The LLS raises money to help find a cure for cancer, specifically blood cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma.  The event you choose to participate in determines the amount of money you have to raise for the LLS.  Throughout your training season, there are coaches and mentors to help guide you through the process of fundraising, as well as the training.  My local chapter of TNT has a shoe clinic, a nutrition clinic, and a fundraising clinic, just to name a few of the perks associated with being a member of the Team.

I have been a member of the Team since 2005 as a participant, mentor, and now the Social Activities Director.  In January of 2011, I completed my third event with the Team...the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World.  In all, I have now raised over $12,000 for the LLS and it is something I am extremely proud of.  I could spend hours talking about being a part of the Team.  It is a very rewarding experience, to say the least. 


My TNT Events
My first marathon was also my first TNT event, as you know.  I had chosen to sign-up for the Walt Disney World Marathon as my first marathon because I figured that no matter how difficult running a marathon could be, you've got to be able to have fun in Disney, right?  I was correct...it was a BLAST!  And participating with TNT was something great that I did, but it wasn't in my blood...at least not yet.


My second TNT event was the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon.  I got the bug again after going back to a run with our Team one cold winter day in 2009.  It was the spring season kick-off and they had a local family speak to the group to remind us of why we were all there:  To help people like them who have children dealing with cancer.  Of course I felt so emotional after that that I came home and told Prince Charming all about how I could definitely do this again and that I felt that I needed to.  It took a little convincing, but luckily, he agreed and I was on my way! 

I did all of my fundraising and had all of my money in long before I was supposed to run that race, but unfortunately, I ended up needing surgery to remove my gall bladder, and was forced to post-pone the race aspect of my TNT experience.  Luckily, I was able to roll my fundraising efforts over to the next year and I ended up running it in 2010.


My third TNT event came right off of my running the San Diego RNR Marathon.  I came home from that trip so incredibly pumped up about TNT that I just knew I had to do another event, and I knew that TNT was now part of who I was and am to this day.  I immediately signed-up for the Goofy Challenge in WDW...as a participant.  This event isn't typically opened up to TNT participants, but a group of us alumni wanted to do it together, so our local chapter allowed us to.  The Goofy Challenge, was by far, the best, most fun marathon experience I have ever had.  We ran it altogether, as a team, both days, with no concern for our timing chip!  We ran, we sang, we cheered, we talked, we laughed a lot, and some of us even cried a little, plus we put BIOFREEZE all over our legs at EVERY stop.  It was nothing short of AMAZING.  And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!  All 39.3 miles of it--but only if I did it with my Team!

Fundraising
Team In Training is what gave me the courage to try to run longer distances.  But, it also was my first experience with fundraising.  The fundraising aspect of it can be very intimidating when you first sign-up, if you have never fund-raised before.  When you read through the materials TNT gives you to help you navigate the fundraising process, though, it really helps you start focusing on what you need to do and how to go about doing it.
The first thing you do is send out a fundraising letter to everyone you know and knew.  That begins to generate some of your money.  But during my first season as a participant, I made the mistake of thinking that I wouldn't have to do anything else.  I just thought, gee, if everyone I sent this to gives me a $26 check (one dollar for each mile), I could be almost set.  Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way for me.  Don't get me wrong...some people raise all of their money that way.  But most of the participants I have known have had to do other things to raise the money.  So, that season, I started to panic a little.  I had 3 months left and only 1/3 of my money.  The tricky part is, that if you don't raise all of your money after you recommit, then you are responsible for the balance.  And they take your credit card at recommitment.  If my mind serves me correctly, the fundraising goal was around $3,600.  Needless to say, I needed a new plan. 

I ended up standing outside of WalMart (after arranging it through the store) one Saturday and brought home a serious chunk of change...it was around $600 or $700.  Most people typically get $400 or so for doing the same thing, but I hit it BIG!!  Still, I needed some cash.

I ended up organizing a pancake breakfast...with absolutely NO previous experience organizing a community meal.  It was a breakfast with Frosty and I planned it very quickly and had it up and running in about 3 to 4 weeks or so.  The pancake breakfast generated another $1500 or so and I was doing much better.  But, I still needed quite a bit.  I ended up sending more fundraising letters to local businesses and community service organizations.  In the end, this was enough to actually put me over my goal by about $200.  Whew! 


The next time I did an event as a participant with TNT, I sent out my fundraising letters and then got a jump-start right away on organizing a fundraising event.  This time, I knew a little more about organizing a community meal and decided to do a spaghetti supper.  It was a themed, "Spaghetti Circus".  I put all of my effort into making this supper COUNT!  I called all of the local restaurants and stores that I could and got almost all of my food and paper goods donated.  I was also able to get businesses to donate goods that were raffled off.  I enlisted all of my friends and co-workers and we ended up serving around 450 meals!!!  The whole community, it felt, came out to support the cause.  What an incredible evening that was!  That season I raised somewhere over $5,200 I believe, which put me well over $1,000 over my fundraising goal!

The last event I did with TNT, The Goofy Challenge in January 2011, I decided to do another spaghetti supper, this time with a different theme.  I held a "Spooktacular Spaghetti Supper".  This time, I sold a ton more pre-sale tickets for the dinner, which saved families some money, but also cut back on the profits I earned for the LLS.  In all, I served another approximately 450 people, but made less than the Spaghetti Circus.  Either way, I did end up raising enough money for my event.

The fundraising aspect of being a member of the Team, as I said previously, can be intimidating.  But what I hope you gather from my story, is that even someone who has NEVER fundraised before, CAN do it!  You just learn as you go, get advice from your teammates, mentors, and coaches, and seek out creative ideas.  Our team has had amazing ideas over the past 7 years that I have been there.  I've seen everything from bake sales, car washes, and raffles, to major events held at banquet halls like dances, and even an Elvis impersonator.  It is soooooo possible to do it! 

Joining TNT was a life-changing experience for me.  I have never once regretted being a member of the Team.  In fact, I am finding new and more ways to become involved just because I love it so much!  I mean, how could you not love making new friends, getting/staying healthy, and helping others?  It's a Win-Win!  If you get a moment, or feel that I may have inspired you to try it, check out the link below  You won't regret it, either!


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