THE END OF AN ERA…
This past Sunday morning I donned my T2 shirt and cap in preparation to run the Los Angeles Marathon as a proud member of the Team To End AIDS. It was my 8th time running this great race with T2. Unfortunately, it’s also the last time I will be running a marathon with them.
Sadly, 2017 is the last year of the Team To End AIDS endurance training charity program.
Granted, the entire team knew this bitter fact when we started our training for the 2017 race back in October. We vowed to have one helluva final season. But now that the training is over and the race has been run, the harsh reality has finally hit me.
I’ve been involved with charities before, all of them worthwhile, but T2 wasn’t just another cause I supported. I looked forward to seeing the T2 gang on Saturday the way you look forward to meeting up with your best buddies and hanging out. They were an important part of my life. They were my running family.
Since the fall of 2008, between and October and March, I’ve basically spent every Saturday morning with the T2 gang. That’s a helluva lot of Saturdays. And you don’t willingly get up at 5:45am every weekend unless it’s something that matters deeply to you.
Put simply, T2 is the reason I’m even a distance runner. Coach Scott Boliver took this couch potato and turned him into a marathoner. He took a guy who was feeling kind of lost at the time and showed him that he could do something he thought impossible. And when we lost Scott far too soon, Coach JC stepped up admirably. And this past season Coach James continued the tradition by motivating and whipping us all into shape.
The various pace groups I ran with during the T2 program (Joan’s Jets, Team Road Kill, Ocean’s Eleven) were all close knit bunches. They made every run fun (even on the days when the run itself wasn’t). Traipsing up a huge hill doesn’t suck quite so much when you’ve got your friends chugging right alongside you. And the stories and jokes we told during our many long runs are some of the greatest memories I’ll take with me. I learned a lot about my friends and myself as we pounded the pavement in Burbank and Glendale each week. I’ve met so many new people through the program and created friendships that will last a lifetime.
And the T2 support staff and volunteers were second to none. Every Saturday they’d get up even earlier than the runners did to make sure the day’s course was laid out and that we had water and food. And whether it was the Boliver’s famed pickle & peanut butter crackers (way better than they sound) or just a cup of water and a smile from one of the other wonderful volunteers, they kept us going strong. And they didn’t do it for the money or praise. They did it for the cause. They did it out of love.
I could go on and on about all of the good that Team To End AIDS has done in its mission to support APLA (AIDS Project Los Angeles). Over the 17 years of the program’s existence, T2 has raised in excess of $34 million dollars and trained over 11,000 athletes. They’ve helped and given hope to thousands of people in dire need. I am honored to have been a part of T2.
Having been involved with Team To End AIDS didn’t just make me a better runner. It made me a better person.
So now I must come to grips with the fact this wonderful chapter in my life has come to an end. Change is inevitable. I will certainly continue running (heck, my next race is less than three weeks away). And when the time comes this fall to start training for Los Angeles 2018, I plan to be out there pounding the pavement… either solo or as part of another group. But I will always have the fond memories and lessons that T2 has given me.
Now there has been discussion about a new running program rising up this fall to continue the mission that Team To End AIDS started. I certainly hope that comes to pass and if it does, perhaps I will sign up with them. But regardless of what the future holds, Sunday’s race truly marked the end of an era.
Thank you T2.