It’s early in the morning and still dark out. The alarm on the other side of my bedroom buzzed me awake and I’ve just silenced it by slamming my fingers on the snooze button. It’s quiet. Nobody is watching and I’m standing alone and dreary in the dark, with a crucial decision to make:
Do I listen to my tired body and stumble back to my soft bed for another hour of sleep?
Or do I throw on some clothes, take a drink of water and get the day started with a workout?
The battle ensues.
One side pats a fluffy pillow, and becons, “Come on…you exercised yesterday and stayed up late last night. An extra hour of sleep will be good for you and one day off isn’t going to hurt.”
The other side counters, “Weak sauce! You are so pathetic. Get your butt downstairs and let’s do this thing! If you were going to sleep in today, why’d you set the alarm in the first place?”
I teeter there, silently, as they exchange fire for another minute, until it’s time to make a move.
My eyes relax and close as I take a couple of steps toward the bed. I can almost feel the pillow on my head and the warm hug of the comforter. But on the third step, I’m jolted by a foul taste: failure.
I remember how toxic it feels to start the day off with a loss and know that I’ll be kicking myself later for my lack of dedication if I go back to bed.
It stops me in my tracks and I think about how good it feels to get outside and exercise in the morning. How it breathes positive energy into the rest of the work day and how these moments of weakness are easily resolved by simply moving my feet in the right direction.
I grab a pair of socks and trudge downstairs.
And as I’m sitting in the kitchen, staring at the floor, still laboring to get going, my thoughts drift to my aunt Leslie Whitfield, my brother Elliot and my sister Cecily.
Three of the most inspirational people in my life.
Elliot, an active-duty Marine, doesn’t have the option of hitting the snooze button. Whether he’s deployed on a boat, back home, on no sleep, hot, cold or hungry he has to maintain peak physical fitness. He doesn’t whine or make excuses and is developing into an exceptional Marine and an even better human being. You don’t accomplish this by diving back under the covers..
While Elliot fights evil with the Marine Corps, my aunt Leslie fought a different kind of battle.
In her 30s, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Despite the grim prognosis, she survived and battled the disease for 19 years.
Yes, 19 years of treatment, doctor’s visits, tests, wigs, weight fluctuations and God knows what other hindrances that she kept below the surface. Pretty brutal right?
Not for Leslie.
If you met her, you would’ve had no idea that she was sick. Happy and go-lucky, she attacked life and accomplished more good than most people do with a clean bill of health.
Leslie passed away earlier this year, in February. I wrote about all the lessons she taught me on my blog, shortly after her funeral. But the one message that surfaces on a daily basis, is that she didn’t make excuses when the conditions weren’t right or things didn’t go her way.
Leslie didn’t hit the snooze button either. And if she can do so much good while dealing with so much bad, then I can stick to my training schedule and get my butt out of bed.
So right now you’re thinking, “OK, I get it. You’re not going to hit the snooze button anymore. Where are we going with this?”
I’ll tell you where we’re going: Parker, Arizona for the Blue Water Triathlon on November 6, 2011.
And I’m not just doing a triathlon to accomplish personal goals or improve my physical fitness level. Those are some of the reasons, but I wanted to do this as part of something bigger.
When Elliot joined the Marines, he joined a team. When Leslie aggressively raised money for cancer research all those years, she formed, and was part of, many teams.
For my first triathlon, even though endurance events are individual sports, I wanted to join a team too.
Enter my younger sister, Cecily and Team In Training.
She introduced me to Team In Training back in July, when she started training for her first triathlon. She’s also doing it in honor of Leslie and her motivation to train with others rubbed off on me.
Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down with your own life and routine and forget how important it is to meet new people and support good causes.
And with individual endurance sports, I’ve found it even easier to hole up in my own world.
For the past couple of years I’ve been exercising alone. I don’t belong to a gym and do most of my workouts in the back yard or along the canal or bridal paths. It’s easy, it’s good to be outside and it saves money.
But it’s not very inspiring and it doesn’t offer many opportunities for spontaneity, new connections or outside influence.
So I joined Team In Training and have committed to competing in my first triathlon in November and raising $2,200 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
I’ve never raised money like this before, nor have I swam competitively or biked for long distances. But for the next four months I’ll be working hard to learn all three while strengthening my running ability and maintaining some semblance of a social life.
I’m doing this in honor of Leslie Whitfield and everyone else battling cancer, of any kind. Cancer is cancer and a fight is a fight. I’ve heard some incredible stories from various breeds of warriors and am happy to support LLS and cancer research.
At the surface, my Team In Training is composed of about twenty people working together to get in shape for a triathlon. But if you look closer, you’ll see that the team goes far beyond these triathletes, coaches and volunteers.
It includes you: our family, friends, co-workers and everyone else supporting us along our journey.
It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt. And for the next four months there are going to be many mornings when I just want to hit the snooze button, go back to bed and fight the battle another day.
But at those crucial moments when it’s so appealing to lay down and take a break, I’m going to think of Elliot, Leslie and Cecily.
I’m going to think of all the people who wake up every morning to battle cancer for another day.
I’m going to think of the support and inspiration from all of my teammates who are pushing me out the door and across that finish line.
And I’m going to dismiss the alarm, lace up my shoes and attack the day.
I would appreciate any support you can offer – even if it’s just a few words of encouragement – to help make those brief morning battles and the next four months of training, that much easier to conquer.
To donate, please click here to visit my fundraising page and follow along as the journey continues.
Thank you very much,