MY RUNNING FAMILY
When it comes to family and friends, the old saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water.” Well, I’m not certain where sweat falls into that equation, but I bet it’s pretty damn important too.
With that said I, want to tell you about the runners, coaches and staff that make up T2 (Team to End AIDS)… my running family.
These are the people who I see during training season, week in and week out without fail. No matter what is going on in our lives, we get together each Saturday morning at 7:00am (sometimes 6:00am, oof) to talk, laugh, sometimes cry and to help others. And we also run… a lot.
Team to End AIDS is an endurance event program that trains individuals to run marathons and triathlon events. In exchange for training you (basically for FREE), all they ask is you help raise funds to support AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). If you don’t know about APLA, please CLICK HERE to see the good they do. APLA is truly a wonderful organization, helping those individuals in the Los Angeles area whose lives are impacted by HIV/AIDS.
On paper it seems like a pretty straightforward “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. In reality, it’s so much more.
When I first joined the group in the fall of 2008, my main reason for picking them over other running teams (there are several in LA) was, shall we say, a little less than philanthropic. To be blunt, they were the closest running group to where I lived at the time. There, I said it.
And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
It was at the T2 training grounds that I first met Coach Scott and was introduced to the other great support staff. And I also met the other runners, a blend of nervous (and many like myself, out of shape) newbies and T2 alumni runners. Each season T2 trains anywhere from 100 to 200 runners to do what many of us thought impossible. We train to become marathoners.
When we meet up each Saturday morning at Griffith Park, as we all wipe the sleep from our eyes and complain about how cold (or hot) it is out, we stretch and chat with our fellow runners. Then the shout comes out from Coach JC or one of the other T2 staffers to gather round.
What follows next is our weekly “pep rally.” We hear about how much money our group has raised for APLA (over $90,000 so far this season) as well as useful training tips and advice.
And almost every week someone steps forward to give a personal story about how HIV/AIDS has impacted their life or how APLA and T2 has supported them. This is always my favorite part of the rally, to hear how people I know and care about have faced adversity head-on. And on more than one occasion I’ve had to brush tears from my eyes.
Next up, we hear the good/bad news… the course for that week. We all already know how many miles we’re going to run each week (8 miles last week, 17 this coming Saturday), but this is where we get to find out what part of town we’ll be running and how many hills are on that particular route (sometimes JC really likes to punish us).
Then we split up into our individual pace groups for the run. The group I’m part of, named “Roadkill,” pounds the pavement at a 10:00 min/mile pace and is made up of about 15-20 runners… or should I say my brothers and sisters.
And then we’re off and running!
For the next 2-5 hours, our individual groups beat the streets of Griffith Park, Burbank and Glendale, talking all the while. And we have a blast.
Once the miles are done, we all finish at Griffith Park and hang out to discuss the run, our plans for the rest of the weekend and anything else that comes to mind. And each week one of the groups brings post-run snacks and drinks, so we never go hungry.
After that we say our goodbyes (with many sweaty hugs) and head off. During the week, though, we get constant e-mails from the T2 staff about our maintenance runs and any other info we need. And thanks to social media, we all seem to be chatting and keeping in touch with each other through our many Facebook pages.
And how good is T2 at what they do? For those people who stay the course with training and fundraising, T2 has a greater than 98% success rate. Let me say that again…
A greater than 98% success rate.
I consider myself very lucky to be part of the T2 family, and the 2014 LA Marathon will be the fifth year I’ve run with them. I could certainly train for a marathon by myself (and have done so), but nothing fills me with joy quite like helping those in need and also running alongside my T2 brothers and sisters.
So this and every Saturday when that alarm clock goes off, I don’t think of it as an annoyance. Rather it’s a reminder that I’ve got a family get together this morning and I don’t want to be late… because nothing is more important than family.
(If you want more information on T2 or APLA, please drop me a line)