Saturday I went to Grant Track to train for the Portland Roses 10k.  It’s my second event as part of Team In Training which is the fundraising arm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I had 8 skittles in the pocket of my shorts, one for each lap around the track.  You would be surprised how hard it is to count and keep track of laps when you’re walking.  Each time I passed the starting point, I ate a candy and carried on.

Midway through the walk, I noticed the coaches gathered around an older woman wearing a stocking cap and a purple Team In Training race shirt.  It was decorated with names of survivors and those who had passed.  The significance of that woman and her visit to our training was lost on me until now.  I learned this morning that her name is Florence and she was the honored teammate in the 2008 season.  As a survivor, she trained for the Portland Marathon that year. But, she came to the track to say goodbye.  After 7 years of fighting, her cancer has reached its final stage and she has entered hospice care.  She wanted to thank everyone for being part of this thing bigger than ourselves and wanted all of us to know that the contributions made from Team In Training have funded research that prolonged her life and saved many others. I watched her walk away, arm in arm with her husband not realizing how profound it was.

Coach Sue always says, “remember the reason”.  Florence is the reason I was up at 6am on a cold, wet Saturday willing myself around a track. I suppose I needed to remember, but how sad it is that this reminder had a face and a beautiful soul.

My friends, always remember the reason. Remember why you try harder, why you sacrifice, why you cry and why you celebrate. Remember what you live for and what you care about the most.  Remember those who are hurting or sick. Remember those who have nothing. Remember that you are worth it. Remember the reason, no matter what it is…

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