Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Running with a mission
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Running with a mission

Erin Cowell - April 6th, 2009
Running with a mission
My half-marathon helps find a cure for blood cancers

By Erin Crowell

A few months ago, I took a weekend girls’ trip to the Upper Peninsula. A couple hours after crossing the bridge, we were met by a fresh 33 inches of fallen snow in the Munising area. Snow piles that stood 10 feet tall, easily, acted as guarding pillars at the end of driveways. Our little red cabin sat nestled into its own snowdrift, and as the other girls unloaded their gear and cracked open a “welcome home” beer, I pulled on my running shoes and headed out for a frozen five-mile run.
Normally, I wouldn’t be so open to starting a vacation with such physical torture. Who wants to voluntarily put themselves in the middle of nowhere, running down a slippery road with snowmobiles roaring by at an uncomfortably close distances? I would -- because I joined something that sends a little voice to the back of my mind whenever I’d rather stay inside and oh, I don’t know, crack open a beer.
That something is known as Team In Training (TNT): the ones at races wearing purple, with supporters waving signs on the sidelines and showing the biggest smiles when they reach the finish line. TNT is a national program geared toward the every day person who wishes to complete an endurance race, all while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
The Society’s mission is simple: “To find a cure for deadly blood cancers and provide support for patients and their families.” So far, TNT has raised over $800 million for LLS. My contribution to that chunk will be $4,000 and my race will be the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego, California. I’ve got until May 11 to raise the money and I’ve got until May 31 to get my butt in shape, which will be the day of the race with a groggy 6:30 a.m. start time.
For those unfamiliar with race distances, a half marathon is 13.1 miles -- the farthest I’ve ever run is eight miles, uncomfortably. Not that I don’t enjoy running, but to do so requires commitment and discipline. The beauty of Team In Training is in the name: You’re not the only one busting your butt. You’ve got an entire support system of teammates and coaches to help you along the way.

GOING VIRTUAL
There are a handful of Team In Training chapters around the state of Michigan, with the closest being in Grand Rapids. Since traveling over 200 miles once or twice a week was out of the question, I became a member of the Virtual Team In Training Chapter (VTNT). The network is comprised of participants from all over the country, connected by their computers.
Let’s say we’re having the usual sun-rain-snow freak weather pattern in Northern Michigan; I’ve got five miles to run and I don’t want to deal with the crappy weather. All I have to do –and trust me, I’ve done this—is go onto the VTNT communication site and bitch.
In return, I get sympathy from my teammates and a swift kick to just get outside and deal with it because someone else is in North Dakota dealing with a white-out.
This modern-day help has revolutionized not only communication, but the way people train. Today, there are running blogs and chat forums all over the Internet, providing a community of support and training advice.
The VTNT Chapter has Joe English, a marathon runner and the managing editor for Running Advice and News. Joe has mapped out a training schedule to help us in our running goals –whether it’s to run a half marathon, a full marathon or finish with a better time. Twice a week, Joe sends out an “email blast” covering everything from hydration issues to injury prevention.
When those issues arise, Joe is just an email or phone call away.
“Distance running is about pushing our physical limits,” Joe says. “It’s about taking a journey to a place that is uncomfortable, painful and difficult and then emerging on the other side with a completely new sense of self.”
Recently, I’ve been having issues with my running pace; my stride is slower and my legs become weaker, sooner. I didn’t feel like I was prepared enough to finish the longer run on the weekends – my solution? To run more. I would simply add mileage during the week in hopes to “unshock” my body for the long run.
Joe’s answer?
“What you’re suggesting goes something like this: ‘I wasn’t able to eat a whole pizza for lunch, so tomorrow I’ll try to eat a whole pizza for breakfast in preparation for lunch; and then I’ll try to eat another whole pizza for (dinner).’”
Okay, I see the logic.
Thanks to Joe, I’m not going into my first half marathon blind with shin splints. Having a training schedule assures me I’m doing enough while telling me not to overdo it.

A SEA OF PURPLE
I’ve had the good fortune of chatting with another past Team In Training participant, living right here in Northern Michigan. Laura Jolly heard an interview on her husband’s radio show (The Ron Jolly Show on WTCM-am). The TNT participant discussed her experience and it got Laura’s attention. Shortly after, she attended an informational meeting and signed up for the Anchorage Marathon.
Training for the race, which took place in 1999, became a discovery process for Laura.
“I learned a lot about myself and setting goals. If my goal was to complete a 26.2 mile run -- before nightfall -- I had to learn to take baby steps,” Laura says. “On the days when you don’t feel like training or fundraising, remember someone with leukemia would love to be in your shoes.”
Many people today are dealing with leukemia, along with other blood cancers. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has provided TNT participants with a slew of information, including some of the most disturbing I’ve learned:
“Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children under the age of
20; More than 894,000 Americans are battling Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease and myeloma every day; Every four minutes, someone new is diagnosed with blood cancer; and every 10 minutes, someone dies.”
This information has driven me to a level of commitment I haven’t felt since my old high school track days. Each run feels more meaningful than the last. Like Laura says, when the training gets tough, all I have to do is think of someone who would trade my place in a heartbeat.
The race in San Diego is a particularly special race, hosting over 2,800 runners representing Team In Training -- “A sea of purple,” as TNT Southern Regional Director Julie Oplinger tells me.
Everyone there will have taken the same journey I have in the last several months. They will have felt the pain form the asphalt in their knees and the emotional drain in their heads.
I may have experienced some bumps in the road (literally) -- Some runs may hurt and the weather might suck, but you know what? There could be worse things in life. If me taking a little pain for 13 miles can help ease a lifetime of pain for someone else, well then…
…bring on the shin splints!






 
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