In case you don't also follow Cori's blog, she did the Goofy Challenge as part of the TNT program in honour of her friend Anna. Several years ago, their group ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco shortly after Anna was diagnosed. Anna said that once she was finished her treatment she'd love it if the team would reunite and do one more big event together, they all agreed and Anna chose the Goofy Challenge.
Way back earlier in 2012 when plans were just being made for Goofy Challenge and before I even officially committed to doing it, I caught wind that Cori was considering it as part of this TNT reunion. At the time, that kind of helped seal the deal for me since I'd know someone else down there (this was well before I hooked up with my own training group here at home). Cori and I committed to training together and supporting each other virtually so I feel like I've been along for the ride as she worked so hard to fundraise and plan some amazing events for their TNT team. It was such a treat to then be invited to the dinner, I was looking forward to it all trip.
After a couple very slow bus rides I finally made it to the Coronado Springs Resort where it seemed all of the TNT teams were staying. We had a few minutes to hang out in the room while Cori and her roommate finished getting ready. As we walked down to the ballroom where the dinner was going to be held, Cori warned me that the entrance to the dinner is pretty spectacular and moving.
Holy cow! Spectacular isn't a big enough word to describe it! As we got to the ballroom you could hear the chanting and cheering. As we walked into the building and turned the corner, it just hit you. The hallway leading to the ballroom was lined with people - coaches, runners, supporters, staff - all cheering and hooting and hollering and clapping and smiling and it was simply amazing. To see Cori walk in with her team and with Anna there as their honoree, it was beyond moving. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house and it was pretty incredible to be walking with such an amazing group of people who had worked so hard to get there.
I didn't take any photos myself because I was taking pictures with Anna's camera for her, but I've borrowed these images from Cori's blog and her post about the TNT Inspiration Dinner...
|Cori's team ready to enter the hall...|
|Our view walking towards the hall...|
We were greeted by TNT reps and given a rundown by the runDisney crew. The emcee for the evening was John "the Penguin" Bingham who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier in the year at the Rock n Roll Seattle Blogger Meetup and it was a pleasure to hear him speak again. His speech was hilarious and of course, loaded with tons of jabs at how crazy the Goofy runners were to be doing both distance events. There were lots of laughs and tons of great stories from his running and writing career.
Awards were given and various teams were recognized for their amazing fundraising efforts. And then one of the top individual fundraisers took the stage and it was a very emotional speech. He told us about his own battle with cancer and again, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.
The whole evening was very emotional and I found tons of inspiration and motivation from just being involved in such a great pre-race event. I hadn't been working alongside all these dedicated people but having the opportunity to be a part of this event was very special to me and it was hard not to share the success and achievement of so many amazing people. I left there feeling pretty good and so excited for the half marathon the next day.
As we walked back to Cori's building at the resort we made our final plans for meeting up in the morning. Although I was pumped and ready to go, I was feeling a tiny bit nervous too. The 5k that morning had been so hot and humid and Saturday's half would be a much better indication of what Sunday might be like for the marathon. I left to head off to the bus stop and get my final things ready back at the hotel.
What a great night. Thanks TNT, you are one amazing group of people.
Next up, Donald Duck Half Marathon Race Report!
In case you missed them...