A few months ago, I decided that I needed a change…a big one.
Now, typically I would make drastic changes in my life when something is wrong.
Can’t breathe? Start running.
Chest Pains? Lose weight.
Feel like one of those corporate ghoulish creatures pretending to be humans in the movie They Live? Quit my job.
This time, nothing was wrong. In fact, I was incredibly happy! So after almost a year worth of internal debate, I decided to dye my hair purple (seriously, dad, there is NOTHING wrong with me).
Obviously this would be something that attracts quite a bit of attention, which is something that I really didn’t consider prior to doing it. As I have aged, I have wanted less and less attention. Especially in public. Specifically from Creepers.
Creepers aside, I wanted to do something to top my past eccentricities. In 2007, I realized my lifestyle choices were quite awful. I was almost 20 pounds over a healthy weight. And I had just lost my best friend to lymphoma.
After telling my mom, “I would just lose this weight if I could run with a team again…like I did in high school.” The very next day, the pamphlet for Team In Training, an endurance program through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, came in the mail.
Team In Training is a program that provides coaching and mentoring to help members train and complete an endurance event (such as a half-marathon, marathon, century cycle ride or triathlon) while raising funds for blood cancer research. It was a sign. Get back into shape while running in honor of my best buddy to help others beat cancer. A win-win-win.
In 2008, I completed my first half marathon with the organization. That fall, I ran my first Chicago Marathon. Today (July, 2015), I have raised almost $10,000 alone for the cause, completed six marathons and over 20 ultra-marathons, plus weigh about 40 pounds less (right in that healthy range).
In every single marathon that I have run to raise funds and awareness of the organization and mission, I have worn purple, the color of Team In Training. Although, it has been a favorite color of mine since I was a child, the color has taken on a whole new meaning.
It has meant a plethora of amazing new friends.
It has meant success.
It has meant life.
And after seven seasons of being a participant, this year, it means that I get to pass on the blessing to over 170 members in the form of a coach.
So this year, I went purple.
Personally, it has done wonders for my self esteem. I’ve gotten more nice* compliments than I could ever remember ( *Creepers can give what they consider compliments, but usually are more explicit than nice).
And I feel like a Superhero. A cancer-fighting, awareness spreading, Superhero.
So when you see my #FundraisingFriday posts on the Traffic Jam Jen Facebook page, it’s to help those 170 members tell their story. Over the next couple of months, you will have the pleasure of getting to read some of these inspiring stories of members fighting to raise funds to beat blood cancer while their loved ones are physically fighting cancer.
As of July 30th, 2015, the group has raised over $250,000 for research toward a cure!
UPDATED FUNDRAISING: Total funds raised between all marathon, half marathon, and triathlon participants as of Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 is $311,863.28!
As of August 18th, 2015, total funds raised to date between all marathon, half marathon, and triathlon CURRENTLY REGISTERED participants is $409,283.55!
As of October 5th, 2015 total funds raised to date between all marathon, half marathon, and triathlon participants is $576,918.00!
FINAL UPDATE: December, 2015: The National Team In Training Chicago Marathon team ended up raising over $960,000 in the 2015 year.