It should be noted that the reason I even knew Team Challenge existed is because of Twitter (I know, tried to hide your shock). Over the past couple years I have seen a number of people I follow tweet about their experiences. I've followed them over race weekend via tweets. And quite frankly I wanted in on that fun. (Also, another pattern: me weaseling my way into groups and fun times.)
After talking about it with Nicole and Annie I was convinced it needed to happen. They assured me I was capable of both the fundraising and the running. And they ended up being the strongest support team I could have throughout the season. Nicole became my mentor and ultimately my fundraising superhero and Annie became my coach and the little voice in my head that told me I was able to run 13.1 miles.
So it should also come as no surprise that what built up over the course of our 16 week training season came to the most awesome culmination of best friends forever possible over the actual trip. We had agreed long before we left for California that the three of us would be homies and we'd have tons of fun together. And we did just that. However, we became even better besties than I ever could have imagined. I guess with the fundraising leading up to the trip and then the whole running thing once I got there, the typical worry about flying half way across the country with people I had never traveled or spent more than a few hours with wasn't at the top of my mind. And both surprisingly and pleasantly it never even entered my mind.
I have spent the greater majority of my life in organized groups. First it was cheerleading and between camps, games and competitions I spent a good amount of time traveling with what were strangers turned best friends. Then in college I joined a sorority and spent FAR more time than most people do living in a house with 44 of my closest friends. After graduation I coached cheer and once again was traveling with strangers turned friends. So I guess I'm a bit of a pro at this. (Is it a good thing to be a pro at traveling with strangers?) I'm familiar with how quickly a bond can take hold and how one good weekend away from "normal" can turn into years of best friendships. But nothing prepared me for this weekend.
I spent every waking moment with Nicole. When Annie didn't have coaching things to attend to (which was really only for like a few hours, but felt like a lifetime) she was with me too. The three of us ate, talked, swam, ran, walked, shopped, and explored. Not once did it occur to me I hadn't done most of these things with these two at any point before the trip. We never ran out of things to talk about. We never stopped giggling and making inside jokes. I haven't laughed that hard in a LONG time and it didn't just happen once or twice. I felt so incredibly comfortable around those two I could hardly believe it. There was no awkwardness, no trying to figure each other out. It was as if we just always knew each other and what we needed and wanted and had to say and didn't want to say and thought but didn't want to have to say. It wasn't as if they had become my best friends, it's like they always were.
And those were just two of my teammates. I formed (less giggly and constant) bonds with so many others on my team of 30+ individuals. I learned Noah is good with directions and has a tolerance of many men put into one. I met a new friend from NYC who I owe so many thanks to for being a best friend to Nicole and helping her when I couldn't physically be there. I fed off of Meredith's excitement and was ecstatic every time I got to see her along the course because of our bond as the slow runners throughout practice. Ethan's wife and I bonded over our former love for WWF wrestling over dinner one night. So many other little conversations happened throughout the season and the weekend that made me ultimately feel like such a team with these strangers.
So I guess, more concisely put, besides raising $4,175 for the CCFA and training to run 13.1 and my first half marathon ever, Team Challenge also became the conduit through which friendships that will last my entire lifetime were made.