Tuesday, June 05, 2007

san diego marathon: saturday, part 1

saturday morning the whole team met down in the lobby for a 20 minute run together. a bunch of people had been stuck at jfk because of bad weather and i hadn't seen my roommate L yet. after a few minutes, we all headed out the back of the hotel for a quick down and back.

i don't know how to describe event weekend except to equate it to camp. except i've never been to camp, so its what i imagine what camp must be like. there's lots of excitement, and activities and a schedule and rah-rah-rahing. hmm. probably doesn't sound so fun when i put it that way, but it is. after the run, we all went to a grassy knoll to stretch. we were a big crew, and formed a circle, stretching and introducing ourselves and saying where we were from. nashville, italy, england, michigan, california, queens...i love the new york mix.

the next event on the schedule was the pasta party at 1, so jess, me, amanda and her mom went for breakfast, and i went back to the expo with amanda and her mom. they hadn't had the goo that i liked, so i was going back for round 2. the expo was three times as crowded, so i got my goos and ran back to the hotel to get ready to go to the pasta party.

we hopped the shuttle and headed to another convention center for the pasta party with 1/2 of all the tnt participants. as we walked in, we were surrounded by coaches and staff, all joyfully cheering and waving us in with pompoms, streamers signs and their voices. it's one of my favorite moments of the weekend - i snuck peaks at all the first timers, enjoying their touched, smiling faces.

we grabbed our pasta and grabbed seats. after we ate, it was time for the speeches. once again, "the penguin" gave his speech, cracking jokes about how the first timers wouldn't be able to stand tomorrow; letting them know it was okay not to speed through the marathon, to enjoy it because there is only one first; giving them the tips about how to round down their time. he also told us that team in training had raised over $12 million dollars for the LLS for the San Diego marathon alone!! SO amazing.

and then there was the touching one. a woman named jill - a mother of three who worked in a cancer ward. she began by telling a story how there was a group of older women who donated a bunch of knitted caps for the patients in the ward. she gave one to a woman there, and didn't think much about it. the next day, the woman flagged her down. there had been a note in the hat from the woman who had knitted it, who happened to be the woman's mother's best friend: jill's mom! the small coincidences would continue...but not necessarily as happily.

jill had a best friend, also named jill. jill #2 was a runner, and one day she decided to run the san diego marathon with a group called team in training. on the very same day, jill #1 found out that she had stage 3 non-hodgkins lymphoma. the mother of three had only a 30% chance of survival. from that day, both jills began battling, jill #1 with chemo and other treatments and jill #2 her training and fundraising. they fought together, supporting each other, finding strength in each other's fights. jill spoke strongly but with waves of emotion about how cancer robbed her children of their innocence and her husband of his vitality; how wonderful her friends and family were, rallying around them, buying presents for their children for christmas when they were too caught up in illness. the marathon came around, and jill#1 came to the san diego marathon, weak and fatigued, to watch her friend finish the marathon in her honor.

that was three years ago, and today jill is now in remission.

she was back in san diego to run that same marathon she had once been almost too sick to watch, with who else, but her friend jill.

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