Tonight, I went to the informational meeting on the local Team in Training group. Since we're 140 miles south of Chicago, we don't have the marketing drive downstate for getting people to sign up for fundraising opportunities like an urban area. TNT coaches you to do some kind of physical feat. In return, they ask you to to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.
The lovely part about charities like TNT is that they give you some pretty darn good coaches, a social group to belong to and they take everyone, regardless of your current fitness abilities. Their goal is to help you reach your goal and to raise awareness and money for cancer research along the way.
As you can probably guess, a lot of folks who feel helpless watching their loved ones fight cancer often come to groups like this as a way to feel like they're doing something positive to support the person or the people they love. It's a way to feel like you're giving something back.
As far as athletic endeavors go, I was a bit discouraged. They had five or six running events that they would train you for. TNT is so big that they get a certain number of spots at marathons and half marathons that routinely sell out. This year, the Central Illinois area has spots at the Chicago Half Marathon in September as well as the Chicago marathon and half marathon in October. You can also get a spot at the Nike Woman's marathon or half marathon in San Francisco in October. The amount you have to fundraise depends on if you want TNT to pay for flights, hotel, food, etc. as part of of your experience. But in the end, even after your overhead costs to get you to your event and to put you up, 75 percent of all money raised goes straight into research. The other races they had were ALSO in the Chicagoland area, but they were smaller. All of the events were running events. If you were interested in a century bike ride or a triathlon you are out of luck in Central Illinois.
There is one race called the Hot Chocolate 15k in Grant Park on Nov. 5. It's my kind of race. You run, and then they give you a jacket (no stupid medal), a pallet of food and a cup of melted chocolate for some fondue with a side of hot chocolate to drink. And at the 15k distance, you might actually burn enough calories to warrant such a food fest (versus the Krispy Kreme race where you run a short distance only to be force to consume a dozen donuts and then run the distance to the finish). The fundraising for the HC 15k is only $500. But I came home and thought about it and decided that a) I pay my Second Wind Running club dues every year, maybe this summer I should show up for some weekly fun runs with them or with the Kennekuk Road Runners in Danville, because, for some reason, I've been intimidated to do so -- not feeling like a "real runner." Before I raise money for a social group and a coach, I should, perhaps actually attend what I already paid for. And b) I went in really wanting for them to offer some other kind of race besides running. I mean, no, I haven't done a marathon, but really... it's just running -- longer. Maybe something new would be refreshing, ya know? And c) I could totally just run the Hot Chocolate on my own and pay the $64 registration fee and not bother with fundraising.
So, I think I'm going to skip it this round. What was funny in the meeting is that it was only myself and one other person, yet there were four TNT folks there. They were all very nice. But when I said I was interested in some non-running events, the marketing focused people kind of stopped addressing me and only looked at the other person. But after the meeting, the coach and one of the participants (who has completed 72 marathons!) came up and talked to me about other local resources that might be helpful as I pursue other kinds of sports.
And that was very nice, indeed.
So, no TNT for me right now. Maybe if I move to a bigger, more exciting area, I'll get a chance down the road.