A bit more than 25 years ago a man named Bruce Cleland's daughter Georgia was diagnosed with leukemia so he and a few of his friends signed up to run the New York Marathon while raising money to benefit leukemia research. And that evolved into the program known as TEAM in Training that has raised millions of dollars to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training and enabling thousands of people to become endurance athletes and complete marathons, triathlons, hikes, and century bike rides. Once when asked about the program, Bruce said "In the beginning it was all about fundraising." And so it was for my journey from a 40 something couch potato to runner.
On June 11th, 2011 my daughter Krystal and I got lost trying to get home from downtown. We drove by Children's Medical Center of Dallas, which is where my nephew Mavrick lie losing his battle to blood cancer. We stopped to visit and there we visited with a boy who, unknown to us at the time, had less than 12 hours left on this earth. The next day, June 12th, 2011 Mavrick's battle ended.
The week before, my friend Bea McKnight had completed the San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon in honor of Mavrick after successfully raising over $5,000 with TEAM in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. So, Monday, I called her and suggested we complete a season to run the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon with TEAM in Training in Mavrick's Memory. And two weeks later, June 27th, I put on an old pair of "tennie shoes", a pair of shorts, and a cotton t-shirt and headed out the door to run for the first time since having left the Air Force twenty years before. I had only one goal on that first run: Get to the railroad tracks, turn around, and come home. Oh and between here and there was a hill that goes up at a 5% grade for close to a quarter of a mile that even today I run every single time I leave my house as it's the only way out of my 'hood. 30 minutes later I was back at my house. Sweating. Out of breath. And pretty sure I was going to die after running that far. I had no idea how far the tracks even were from home yet. But I knew, that however far that was, that I'd run that far tomorrow and that eventually, in Mavrick's Memory, I'd run 13.1 miles through the streets of Dallas. The next morning I drove to the tracks and back and found I'd run all of .9 mile there and .9 mile back. Less than two miles. And that damned hill on Summit.
About 4 weeks later I attended my first TEAM in Training meeting with Coaches David and Meg Burdette and was a bit ahead of the training schedule as I had progressed to running out to 4 miles. I had also learned a few things through the internet: Cotton is bad and shoes should be fitted by someone who knows how. Running in clothes that wick and shoes that fit and support correctly for my pronation wasn't nearly as hard as that first week of running to the tracks and back.
The 4th week of training I ran into Meg at Run On! and she said that her and David wondered why I hadn't signed up to train for the full marathon since I was already so far ahead of the half schedule. I told her it was crazy to run 26.2 miles and I wasn't even doing this because I wanted to run as much as to use it as an excuse to ask people to donate money to the LLS in Mavrick's Memory and as I had more than doubled my fundraising commitment I felt like completing the half was enough. But, then, on the way home I had a moment of clarity and in that moment I realized that I actually loved running and training for a full was completely achievable. If I was going to run White Rock it might as well be the full. So, I emailed her and David that evening to tell them it would be the full for me.
I ran my first 5K race in September of 2011, my first 10K in October, my first half marathon in October, and culminated that season as a marathoner on December 4th, exactly 20 weeks after that first slow painful climb up the hill on Summit to the railroad track and home. And I was hooked. Totally. I was a runner.
But, in the beginning? It was all about fundraising. As it is even now.
You can help me by donating to my campaign to raise funds while I train to run the Marine Corps Marathon.
This is Mavrick Andrew Veal. The young man who started it all.