If Erin Findley’s story did not have you up and off the couch and getting your sweat on, here’s another little nudge. All three of these gentlemen have found their inner athlete with the TEAM and seen the health benefits that come with the active lifestyle.
Dennis’ Team In Training (TNT) story started about four years ago, a mere six months after his sister was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). He had heard ads for Team In Training on the radio, but it wasn’t until he was riding his bike one day on the Great Highway and he ran into two TNT run teams, that he gave it serious thought. At the time, Dennis was exercising regularly, but was in a rut with his weight loss.
“I looked at the TNT teams running by and thought, what a great way to add some extra ‘umph’ to my workout,” he recalls.
He chatted with co-worker, Sue Luger, who had participated in TNT, attended a TEAM workout and the rest was history. His first event, the Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon, got him hooked on endurance walking and hooked on Team In Training. And between that first season and the next season, he achieved his weight loss goal.
Nine seasons later, Dennis is still at it. “I love the organization, what LLS does and the TEAM. My oldest daughter, Madeleine, age 14, does it too – she has walked five half marathons with me.”
Ron Lichty played some tennis when he was younger and ran for about a year in his 20’s, but never considered himself an athlete. His asthma was always a problem and required an inhaler.
Ron had learned to love cross-country ski when he lived in Wyoming, but didn’t fully pick it up again until the winter of 2003 when he received a request to join Team In Training in the mail.
Ron’s first cross-country ski event was a 25K in West Yellowstone. And although he was seriously wiped out when he crossed the finish line, the drive to stay active and maintain his fitness level stayed. In three words, he was hooked.
Ron fell into a routine that involved cardio, balance work and strength training during the off-season and TNT cross-country ski in the winter. Over eight TNT seasons, he strided and skated a variety of cross-country ski events including the 35K, 40K and 50K races in Anchorage, Alaska.
Not too long ago, Ron had a revelation: he had not used his inhaler in a year and a half! These days, when he travels, it no longer makes the packing list.
“It took an incredible amount of courage to leave it home the first time. But I have come to realize that I am in the best shape of my life. Before TNT, it never really occurred to me that I could use the word athlete and my name in the same sentence. But I now I can and I actually do.”
Merle’s story starts a bit differently but has a similar outcome. Merle was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in the summer of 2009 and saw Team In Training as a way to deal with his cancer diagnosis. CLL is a “watch and wait” kind of leukemia. Patients receive treatment when they experience symptoms related to their cancer, but otherwise it can lay quietly in their system and doctors monitor their blood counts. When a CLL patient’s lymphocyte count spikes, then there’s a problem.
Merle’s first marathon with the TEAM was the 2010 Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans. Looking back he remembers it was a great race aside from the fact that he developed leg cramps at mile 22. He jokes that leg cramps were not part of the training program, so he was rather stumped as to how to work through them.
With multiple marathons under his belt (and with the Paris Marathon on the calendar for April), Merle is in terrific shape. And his blood counts have actually improved, to the point that his diagnosis has shifted to monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis, a condition that resembles CLL and does not require treatment.
There’s no scientific connection between Merle’s disease and his active lifestyle. But he is of the mind, why ruin a good thing? He intends to keep up his training with the TEAM as long as he can.
“If you are not prevented by illness or injury, you can do this,” he says. “Anybody can do it. Just start slow and keep at it.”
Feeling inspired? Seize the moment and visit teamintraining.org/sf. Teams are forming now for the current season.
P.S. Tomorrow is “Freaky” Fone-in Friday and we invite you to call us at 800.78.TRAIN (800.788.7246) with your questions about the program. And as a special nod to Friday the 13th, registration for the upcoming season will be $10 and the first ten individuals to call 800.78.TRAIN and register, will receive
a pair of tickets to the Winchester Mystery House.