Team in Training is about running for a cause. It is about running for someone other than yourself. You feel more dedicated to running when it is about something greater than yourself. You get swept up in the waves of inspiration that seem to be around every corner. Amazing families doing amazing things under tragic circumstances. During my time with the TEAM, I met mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends of someone who had battled cancer… not to mention actual cancer survivors. Unfortunately, cancer was everywhere. I couldn’t avoid talking about my own father’s battle with cancer, nor could I avoid listening to all of the stories of others who had faced similar fates… some not as fortunate as my father. It was extremely sad knowing that children were also suffering from this evil disease.
I remember seeing Alan at the information meeting I attended. I learned about his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I don’t know why, but he immediately reminded me of my own father (I told him not to be offended because my dad is still young :)). Alan shared his stories with me as we ran together. He became a new running buddy and I always enjoyed our conversations. I ran that first marathon in honor of Alan and my father. They were my inspiration to get across the finish line.
But that wasn’t the end of the inspiration. A few months after I had completed my marathon, Alan suffered a terrible loss. His beautiful wife, Carmen, had passed away. I was at a loss for words. I knew that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that would make anything better. Yet, there was always running. I knew a bit about running and I knew how Alan felt about running. It was his saving grace after he had cancer.
A couple of months later, Alan made the decision to run the Never Quit 5K… a fitting race title. He was supposed to do it with Carmen and he still kept his promise to do just that. All I could do was say that I would be there and run by his side if he wanted me to. So, that is what Tracey and I did. Now, every time I look at that beautiful sea turtle pendant I think of that moment when Alan crossed the finish line as he looked up into the sky. That was truly an inspiration.
Alan never quit despite the many obstacles he had faced. I would often see him at group runs and he even talked me into doing an overnight relay for another great cause. Sometimes injuries prevented him from running, but Alan would always come back. He is definitely a fighter and I admire him for that. Sure, Alan wasn’t as fast as me back then, but I hear he will be passing me soon! Somehow that tough guy has managed to surprise even his own doctors with that determination! Alan was the running buddy that I could always talk to about anything. I truly miss that.