Sunday, July 4, 2010

Go Team! in Seattle

I thought I would start my Seattle posts about the race with one talking a bit about the preliminaries - how the team met up and what we did the day or two before the race. I will follow this post with a couple about the morning of the race and the race itself. Then I will wrap things up with a a couple of posts about seeing a bit of Seattle. This will all take several days to write and post.

One thing that was totally different about this trip is the we did not have a separate Virginia Team. With only 5 people from the Old Dominion participating, we just did not have enough people to justify the expense of sending a coach and an LLS staff person. So we, and many other tiny teams, were combined with a huge National Team with two LLS staff person and six coaches. Our first chance to meet some of our teammates was to walk over the Expo Thursday (June 24) afternoon to claim our race packet. Maybe a dozen or so of us met in the Sheraton lobby and walked over there together. I did not stay long. I have been to many expos now and was not planning on spending money, and didn't want to be tempted. But I did snap this shot of a couple of volunteers at the TNT booth. That is one cool cat! We also had a team dinner that night and about 25 people showed up. The bad news was that the restaurant would not split the check, and that put a damper on an otherwise great meal because it took about an hour for us to split it and to make sure that the LLS person would not get stuck with an extra $50 or something like that. The place was pricey but very good: Elliot's Oyster House.

The next morning, Friday June 25, a dozen or so of us met in the hotel lobby at 7:30AM and did our customary team training. We ran about 1.5 miles through the downtown. That was fun to see people again, meet a few more teammates and coaches, and run together. I don't remember if any walkers came out, but it actually felt good to run 1.5 miles without walking, and my ankle and calf felt fine. Here are a few photos, this first one of some of the team running down near the waterfront.
One of the coaches took this photo of me, sporting my new purple headband, along the way.
I loved this display in the window of this store, plus the sign...My roommate on this trip once again was Coach Chuck. He has been there on my last three trips now, starting with his first marathon in Arizona in 2008. He is such a good guy, and incredibly dedicated to TNT and our participants. He was not originally coming to Seattle but did so well with his IHOP fundraiser, raising $2,000, that he changed his mind. I would not have gotten my goal time of 2:30 without him. He came back from the expo with a 2:30 pace card (the only pace time in purple, he said) and taped it to the mirror in our room. I would tap it with my fist as I walked by. It kept mentally preparing me to think what I needed to do to acheive that time or less.Our final team event in the days before the race was the always emotional Inspiration Dinner, also known as the Pasta Party in the past. We enter the ballroom to a gauntlet of crazies, all making noise, and it is so much fun. Purples and greens are the dominant colors. Here are some photos of that part, no captions needed:

Everyone chows down on a decent meal of pasta, salad, and cookies and fruit. While we ate, we learned that there are about 800 of us running the next day for Team in Training, and we raised over $2,000,000 for LLS by our participation. Like I have written before, I had the image of raindrops forming rivers when this was announced. John "The Penguin" Bingham told his funny stories that I always enjoy even after five times now. He also told of losing his high school love to Hodgkin lymphoma, and why he tries to make a difference by helping in this cause. The top fundraisers were announced, with me being in the group.

Finally, the inspirational speaker for the night talked about her little 11 week old baby being diagnosed with A.L.L. and all that she went through. The photos of this baby in the hospital were heartbreaking, and you could hear a lot of sniffling going on, with my sniffles joining in. I could not help but think of Emma, one of our February miracle girls. The mom cried as she talked. Her little girl had slim hopes, developed a totally different cancer from the chemo, and needed a bone marrow transplant. This looked like a failure for a while but now appears successful. It was a poignant reminder about why curing cancer is so important.

After the dinner, we met up as a team - such a big group for the National Team - and our coaches gave last minute instructions. Then we each got a little red, white, and blue ribbon to pin on our singlet, posed for pictures and said good night and see you in the morning. At 4AM, that would mean gathering in the lobby to prepare for boarding the buses. For most people, that meant a 3:30AM wake up call, but for anyone dying their hair purple, 3AM was advised.

Here are 4 of the five of us from Virginia:
And here are Chuck and I posting with Shana (SC) and Jessica (NM), who are both doing their first TNT event:

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