Guest Blog: How TNT & Blood Cancer Affected My Life – Carol Epstein, Team In Training (TNT) Lavaman mentor

What would make a baby boomer devote seven years to endurance athletics and prompt them to raise over $31,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)? Long before Team In Training (TNT) existed, I thought leukemia was a rare disease that only effected children. Not knowing anyone with the disease, it did not touch me directly but over the years things have changed drastically, which has made me incredibly grateful to be a part of this wonderful program.

In 2006 I really wanted to be involved with the Nike Women’s Marathon after helping my co-worker learn correct running techniques for her participation in the sold out race. I found a volunteer opportunity on Craigslist with TNT, standing at the finish line directing racers to the Team In Training Finishers Tent. I didn’t expect to be so emotional when I saw marathoners crossing the finish line with tears of joy and on that day I vowed to participate in the next TNT event.

I officially “drank the purple Kool-Aid,” as it’s known among TNT participants, at the 2007 Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. The event was in the winter so we had to train in the darkness and rain at 6:00 am each week. Even though it was challenging, it was inspiring to know that even though I didn’t know anyone with the disease, I was a part of finding a cure. And then one of our honorees, a cancer patient who we run in honor of, passed away. She was too sick to attend any of our events and I regretted never having the chance to meet her, which increased my resolve to raise money to cure this disease.

Carol - Lavaman Finish Line

At a certain point blood cancer became more personal to me than just a dreaded disease. At a family gathering, I met one of my husband’s distance cousins who I eventually recognized as one of my first TNT teams’ honorees. Then a few years later, the cause directly affected my family when I found out my sister’s husband, who is a bladder cancer survivor, had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I never thought blood cancer would affect me and my family so closely and it encouraged me to continue training and raising money for a cure with TNT.

After running several Nike Women’s Half Marathons, my resolve strengthened and running simply wasn’t enough. I needed more of a challenge so in 2010 I joined the South Maui Triathlon Team and became a Fundraising Captain to help others raise money. With the excellent training I received from my TNT coaches, I was able to complete the South Maui Triathlon in 2010 and 2011, and was even “podiumed” once as the third place winner in my age group! In 2012 and 2013 I completed four Olympic triathlons with TNT and raised over $10,000 in one year alone.

I have found that people who are attracted to TNT are selfless, committed, smart, successful, generous, and goal-oriented individuals who believe that the selfless purpose of LLS and TNT is much higher than their own. If you’re considering getting involved, know that the personal rewards of participating in TNT are greater than imaginable, trust me on this.

Carol - TNT Tri Team 2013

Carol is a Team In Training mentor for the 2014 Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon in Hawaii. The first picture is of Carol finishing the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon and the second picture is of Carol’s 2013 TNT triathlon team. To learn more about Carol’s team or to sign up to participant, please visit www.treamintraining.org/gba

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