Side note from the official TNT documentation:
“Recommitment Date: The date upon which all participants will decide to either continue on with TNT or withdraw from the program. Participants who decide to recommit are committing to raising their full fundraising minimum and are securing their place on the team. Those who choose to withdraw from the program are more than welcome to head back to their couch. No questions asked. In person. Mostly because our preferred method of asking questions you would rather not answer is via your e-mail or phone. We have both. We will be in contact.”
I feel as if I should post something before the ride around the lake, but I’m having difficulty finding the right words and putting them all together in a manner that would convey the anxiety, excitement, anticipation and, yes, even sadness I am feeling today.
So, I was surprised when I began to write, and came up with a whole bunch of words. Here they are…
The official big ride is coming along in a matter of hours now and I’ve been finding it difficult to think about much else – which really doesn’t bode well for my employment, family life or what there is left of my social life.
Like other first-time Team in Training (TNT) members, I began this process just to ‘give it a shot.’ I wanted to see what this whole ‘team’ thing was all about. As I’ve said before, I barely expected to even make it to the first team practice, much less last until the recommitment date and the remainder of the training months. But, here I am, nearing the end of this leg of my journey.
I’ve learned recently, I am not alone in those feelings and expectations. There are other team members who have admitted they, too, did not expect to remain with TNT after the recommitment date. However, once the date came upon us, it felt like we had already put so much into the process that to do anything other than continue, if we had the means to do so, would feel…odd.
In the beginning, perhaps – actually, most certainly – my doubts had prevented me from allowing myself to be anything other than the dutiful team member and cyclist who simply showed up every week, as expected. Prepared to ride. Trying to determine where I fit in and which ride group would work best for me. While at the same time trying not to infringe upon the members who were already familiar with the process and knew in which group they would spend their Saturdays. I found I was envious of their comfort level with their surroundings, other team members, coaches, the routes and the system, overall.
I was extremely guarded and kept to myself for the most part. Of course, when you find yourself spraying questionable language while travelling uphill on two wheels and no motor, it becomes more difficult to stay within yourself, as others are likely to hear the outward you. I tried to stay far away from other riders, hoping they wouldn’t notice my offensive expressions of exasperation. Keeping my distance while I was cursing wasn’t as big a chore as you might imagine – I mean, I was going uphill on two wheels and no motor. I was not moving fast. Others were much more expedient.
Now, as the TNT summer session comes to a close, I’ve become solemn. As time has gone by, I’ve realized I’d wasted the weeks prior to the recommitment date. I spent so much time taking everything in and silently sorting through it all in my mind. Trying to figure out which directions to take and whether or not I wanted to continue with the team at all. Would I be able to finish this latest adventure and, if so, would I be able to finish with any amount of dignity or feelings of accomplishment? Would I succeed only in hindering the advancement of those around me as I slowly moved myself up the hills while they made the trek with an apparent drive and sense of ease I did not yet possess, only to have to wait for me for an unknown amount of time at some ‘regrouping’ spot further along the route. I kept others at arm’s length so as not to become too close, lest I decide TNT and all of its training was not for me, after all.
Once I came to the decision to commit to the team for the entire session, I started to change. I was still slow going up the hills, but with the team’s help, I came to terms with it and accepted it. Slow does not equal unfinished. Slow does not equal undignified or unaccomplished.
Slow does not equal quit.
Unfortunately for those around me, coming to terms with my lack of speed climbing the hills did not equate to pristine language.
After the recommitment date had come and gone, and as I began to embrace my role as a full-fledged team member, I came to understand this:
Team in Training. Sure it is focusing on the Training, but it is the TEAM that gets you over the finish line, whatever that may be.
When it was determined I would be with my team for a while, I started to get more comfortable around the plethora of helmet wearing, banana eating, tri-tanned lined, excited and willful people. I started to communicate more; maybe even mingle a little.
It was only then I knew I had wasted those precious weeks leading up to that day. I have had the opportunity to spend time with team mates both on and off the beaten paths. I have gotten to know them and have been brought up to speed on what has driven them to start and stay with TNT. There are so many different stories out there. Mine is but one – and not a very exciting one, at that. Not by comparison.
It is because of this I have the feeling of pending emptiness. I am in the throes of PTNTD (Post TNT Depression) and we’ve not yet shown up to the start line for the ride.
I’ve learned so much about so much in the last four months, I will miss that experience. I thrive on learning – even when my mind is tired and cannot comprehend what it is being taught.
People keep asking me two things about this experience:
1. Are you ready for the ride?
2. Are you going to do it again next year?
To which I reply:
1. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be because I no longer have a choice.
2. I cannot imagine not sharing this experience again. “I can. Therefore, I will.”
Next time I wander onto a TNT team, however, I will do so not just to ‘give it a shot.’ And I have already put the time in to learn what the whole ‘team’ thing is all about. My hope is I will not waste time pondering everything that is secondary – even tertiary – to the ultimate purpose of the group.
Tonight, we learned our TNT summer team has raised over four hundred thousand dollars, far surpassing the goal that was set when we started. Those crucial funds will go towards finding a cure for cancer so, in the future, patients might not have to go through some of the horrors many now face in their fight for recovery,
That is the real commitment and the primary reason this team exists and continues to thrive.