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Letter to my supporters following the Sea Gull Century Ride and the Dallas White Rock Lake Half Martahon

December 5, 2003

Thank you for donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and supporting me in my recent Team in Training events.

On Saturday, Oct 11, 2003, I rode 100 miles on my bike with the Maryland Team in Training cycle team (took us 6 hours and 30 minutes). With the combined efforts of all the Team in Training participants at the Sea Gull Century Ride, we raised over $300,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

While on the ride, we had to contend with crosswinds, rain, slick streets, cold, and fatigue. But the thought that there are people I know who would give anything to be in my place at that moment in the cold and the rain kept my spirits up and took me a long way on that ride.

Two weeks later, on Nov 1, I joined my brother Ivey in Texas to run the Dallas White Rock Lake Half-Marathon. The North Texas TNT chapter raised another $110,000 for LLS.

Back in June, I had told Ivey of my experience with Team in Training and the Columbia Triathlon I did with them. I told him Team in Training was such a great organization that if he would sign up with TNT to do the White Rock Half, I’d sign up as well and fly out to Texas to run it with him. I knew that he had not done anything really physical in over 10 years and that he needed a strong motivator to get him going. Imagine my surprise when he said yes without even blinking…

Here is a re-cap of our race weekend.

Oct 31, Friday morning before the race

I go over to Ivey’s for morning coffee and a pre-race pep talk. Like most first-time racers, he’s a bit nervous so I tell him what he can expect during the race:

Start off slowly because you can always speed up.

Look for the mile markers that tell you how far you’ve gone. Seeing them is really encouraging.

Imagine the hill at mile 4, and see yourself surging to the top feeling strong.

As you approach the water stop at mile 7.4, the halfway point, you’ll see Mom and Dad with the other volunteers handing out water and PowerAde. It will be a big boost to see them and hear them cheer for you. Remember they’ll be at the finish line too.

Expect that it will get a little tough at about mile 10, but keep in mind that I’ll be finishing the race at about that time and then I’ll run back to find you. I should see you between mile 11 and 12, then we’ll go the last bit and cross the finish line together.

Lastly, in the difficult times, remember why you’re there and who you’re running for. (Pinned to our jerseys, we both wear a photo of our cousin Jo Anne who died of leukemia at age 16. She would be 28 this year and would probably want to do this with us.) When you think you have nothing left, her memory will inspire you to keep going.

I tell him that if he wants me to, I can be the one to put the finisher’s medal around his neck. He smiles and tells me he’d like that. We finish our coffee and he gives me a big hug. After a moment of silence he confesses that he’s afraid he might not finish and doesn’t want to disappoint me. Disappoint me??! I tell him that I’m so proud of him I can hardly contain myself, and that in my eyes, he’s already won the race – tomorrow is only a formality.

Nov 1, Saturday of the race

The North Texas Team in Training group meets at the TNT booth near the start/finish line. The race begins at 8:30. Most of my race will be spent looking forward to the run back to find my brother once I’ve completed the 13.1 miles.

I see my parents at mile 7.4. I’m feeling really strong and pause only long enough to get the bottle of sports drink I’d prepared the day before. Mom’s kept it in the cooler and it’s nice and cold, which is refreshing in the humid 82° Texas mid-morning. I’ll carry it with me for the next few miles sipping as I need to.

The next big moment for me comes when I see the sign that says “Mile 12”. I’ve never run this far before. Then I see the sign at mile 12.4 that says “20k”. Wow. Back in March, I was really worried that I wouldn’t make it through a 10k, and now I’ve just passed the 20k mark. Adrenaline kicks in and I pick up my pace just a bit.

As the finish line comes into view, people line the sides of the street cheering. I don’t know any of them, but they cheer just the same, “Go Team!” and “Go Laura!” as they read my name across the front of my purple jersey. I feel great as I cross the finish line, and see my dad standing there with the camera. After turning in my timing chip and receiving my finisher’s medal, I go back to hand Dad my medal and tell him I’m off to find Ivey. I’m hoping he’s not too much past mile 12 and that I’ll find him quickly.

 

As I backtrack through the course I scan the crowd for purple jerseys, and scan the purple jerseys for the shape that is Ivey. I pass the mile 12 marker and I see a familiar purple smudge in the distance and hear my name as he calls out, “Laura!” He’s made it. I raise my arms in our collective triumph and call back, “Ivey!” He calls again, “Laura!” and I respond again, “Ivey!” and we fall into each other’s arms laughing. It was the best moment in the entire race.

We cross the finish line together to the cheers of the crowd and the cheers of our parents. I run ahead of Ivey and get his finisher’s medal, then meet him and place it around his neck. Wow. We just did a half-marathon. I think it’s the coolest thing we’ve ever done together.

 

Before I began training with Team in Training, I would see people who did 100-mile bike rides or ran half-marathons and think, “What is up with that? Are those people nuts?!” I was afraid of those people. Now I’ve turned into one of those people I used to be afraid of. But the surprising thing is, we’re really not so scary.

I think about all the people who have brought me so far this year – my coaches, my family, my friends, teammates, and TNT supporters. I want to thank you again for being a part of this story. Your prayers, encouragement, and support have been priceless, and I truly could not have done this without you.

Working with TNT has taught me the value of people and the importance of living life deliberately, not carelessly. In the times when I despair, when I feel the futility of the day-to-day, when I think I have it tough, I remember the people I train for and train with, and the impact they have had on me. It goes beyond counting my blessings – I would not be the same person had I not become involved with Team in Training. I am a richer person because of the people I have met. I am a stronger person because of the coaches who have taught me. I am a more compassionate person because of the lessons I have learned through Team in Training. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and for helping to find a cure.

 

All the best,

Laura Drexler

 

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http://www.teamintraining.org/hm_tnt

 

 

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