Thursday, September 29, 2011

TNT: We're In This Together

It is possible that this post is filled with every teamwork cliche in the book (with the exception of "giving it 110%". I give 100% exactly, 110 is right out.) And, like anyone who writes a story chock-full of cliches but low on substance, I still hope you bear with me to the end.

Team in Training is about more than "just" helping people with cancer. It's also about being a part of a team that, for better or for worse, spends every Saturday morning (sometimes spilling into Saturday afternoon) for 3-4 months together, gritting it out on the road or on the trails. And, while it can be easy to focus on one's own goals (complete a sub-6 century!), it's important to remember the 13 to 50 other members of the team, each with their own goals and motivation.

Which brings me to Deirdre. You can read her story here. What's important about it is not just the fact that she is honoring her father, a lymphoma survivor, but that she also had her own trials and struggles in life, in training, and, ultimately, in the event.

This summer, the cycling team--for which I proudly mentored--did two events: America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, around Lake Tahoe, and The Fletcher Flyer Century, outside of Asheville, NC. I rode with the small but indomitable Fletcher team the same day the rest of our riders gutted out a cold, rainy ride out west. I rode with the cyclists that I typically rode with during training, for the most part. I couldn't tell you a thing about anyone's ride besides mine and, to an extent, the others I was with. During the event, and I'm speaking only for myself here, I was in a total bubble, relatively unaware of what others were experiencing (Fletcher was a personal hell for me). The day before, we'd heard that some of the Tahoe team's bikes had been damaged or roughed up to varying extents during transport, but it would be several hours after our finish before reports on their ride would start trickling in.

And what stories there were! No sun until the lunch. Rain, drizzly rain, overcast skies and temperatures in the 40s were the order of the day. Besides anecdotes (Debbie wrecked her thumb! Helen gashed her forehead! Deirdre fell! Val almost went over a ravine!), we didn't know what really had gone down out there. I was focused on my own personal misery after the Fletcher ride, so I was tuned out to the rest of the world. I had completely forgotten the nature of the team that we had forged through the snow and rain in February, the windy days of March and April, and the scorchingly hot, early summer of May.  I forgot that everyone else had their own ride and they weren't all necessarily as bad (or as good) as mine.

Today, I learned someone else's story. I learned about Deirdre's ride. I knew she had fallen, but I didn't realize the emotional journey of her ride. I didn't realize how badly she'd been beaten up. I had seen, first-hand, her determination and game-winning attitude during training rides and I am unsurprised about how she faced her trials on event day undaunted, with that same determination and can-do spirit. This lady is not a quitter, she will not be held back. Deirdre is what Team in Training is about. Thank, you, Deirdre, for reminding me to break out of my bubble and think about my brothers and sisters on the team.

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