Eight years ago, I walked into the Wellesley Community Center and a crowd of 100 people I’d never met before. (SPOILER ALERT in case you haven’t read the past 7 years worth of emails rhapsodizing about synthetic nutrition packets and all-weather spandex). It was the best decision I’ve ever made. (And I include in my consideration the decision I made in the summer of 2011 to eat four different kinds of ice cream for dinner.)
You know this, of course, because my rhapsodies about Team in Training have been nearly as frequent as my odes to the peculiarly delightful consistency of Chocolate Mint Gu at 28 degrees. But it took a while for Team in Training to feel like home. When I first walked into that room, all I felt was that I didn’t really belong there. I was still the most reluctant of runners. I didn’t have a personal connection to LLS. And I don’t think I’d worn leggings since my third grade stirrup pants.
The person who made Team in Training feel like home for me was Fulvio. It didn’t matter that he probably knew about 5 more people there than I did – when he walked in, it was in an explosion of blown kisses, shiny blue bike shorts, and “GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING EVERYONE!!!”s. He was so generous with his affection that it was impossible to feel left out when he was in the room.
There was not a woman on the team (and very few men) who escaped Fulvio’s enthusiastic double-kiss bear hug. (If you have never had an Italian man clad head to toe in spandex come sprinting towards you yelling “MY BABY!” at the top of his lungs – well. I highly recommend it.) He qualified and not only continued to run with Team in Training; he raised ten times the minimum. He was funny and kind, he adored his family, and when he passed away unexpectedly this fall he left us all bereft.
One of the sayings you see printed on headbands and t-shirts at running expos is “Run like a Kenyan.” The Kenyans are great and all, but I’d much rather run like an Italian: blowing kisses, making friends, and giving all of my heart to everyone I meet. I know that anyone who ran with Fulvio will feel the loss of his presence on the team, but I also know there will be an entire room full of people in the Wellesley Community Center on December 8th ready to follow in his footsteps. Which means get ready, Comm Ave…