Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Training in the Presidential Range

July 25, 2007. I just got back from New Hampshire, where I was hiking some of the presidential range with my brother, Nur, as well as with a friend of mine, Dick. Dick is 82, and first gave me the idea of doing this trip when he climbed up Mount Washington a few years ago to celebrate 60 years since he first hiked up there. I hope I am still hiking when I am 82. Anyhow, his celebration a few years ago of going back up Mt. Washington 60 years after his first climb gave me the idea of going up this year to celebrate 40 years since my brother and I climbed the mountain with our dad back in August, 1967. Especially now being a cancer survivor, I am so grateful to be strong enough and healthy enough to climb the mountain, over 6,000 feet above sea level and the highest mountain in the Northeast.

The trip was a lot of fun, and the weather was great. We hiked up Mount Washington, as well as several other mountains, getting on top of five 4,000+ mountains in total. We stayed in the Appalachian Mountain Club huts, which meant we got to sleep in beds and get a great breakfast and dinner. We also didn’t have to carry sleeping bags, tents, stove, cook gear, or much food. It felt great to be alive and healthy enough to do it again now. While not exactly marathon training, strenuous hiking and gaining thousands of feet in elevation is a great workout. Here is a photo of Dick, Nur, and me on top of Mount Pierce early in our second day of hiking. In the background you can see Mount Eisenhower and on the horizon, Mount Washington. We hiked up both of these later in the day:

On our last night, we hiked up Mt. Monroe at dusk and saw a magnicent sunset:

If you want to see many more photos of this trip, go to this link:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rumors about Art and Team in Training

This was my first fund raising message, sent July 10, 2007.
Hello –

There have been some disturbing rumors going around about me and Team in Training (TNT), so I wanted to set the record straight.

Rumor # 1 – Did you hear that Art wimped out this year and is not doing TNT? This is completely false. I can see why this rumor may have started, because unlike 2005 and 2006, I did not sign up for a TNT event in the spring. The reason is that I will hit my five year remission from Hodgkin lymphoma on December 9, and I wanted to do an event as close as possible to that date. I have signed up for the P. F. Chang Marathon in Arizona, and have set up a fund raising page – please visit!

I’ll be updating the photo and progress information every week or so, so I hope you will want to check my web page often.

Rumor # 2 – Did you hear that Art is too old to do a marathon? I have to tell you, this rumor is so patently false that I almost didn’t dignify it with a response. Sure, in a few days, I’ll be 56. Now to someone that is 20 or 30, that age may appear pretty close to a fossil, but 56 is really not that old. I won’t set a world record, but I will do my best and hopefully set a personal record. I’ve learned that when you are capable of doing something, you had better do it, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rumor # 3 – Did you know that blood cancers are all cured? So there is no need for Art to do TNT again. This is one rumor that I wish were true, but sadly, it isn’t. Every 10 minutes in the USA alone, someone dies from a blood cancer of some type. Even the “curable” ones, like Hodgkin lymphoma that I am so familiar with, have over a 10% mortality rate, and for a number of blood cancers, there is no cure or even effective treatment. Help me change that!

Rumor # 4 – Did you know that Grandpas and Grandmas must user walkers or canes to do marathons? Oh, how false this is! I became a grandpa last November. One of the highlights of being fortunate enough to survive cancer was to live long enough to see and hold my little granddaughter, Aja. Way too many people with cancer will not have this opportunity. And I hope that my efforts, and your generosity, will eventually mean more people with cancer live to see their grandchildren, or to see their kids graduate, or to graduate themselves. Anyhow, grandparents are not required to use a walker to compete in a marathon. This is one grandpa who is not yet ready for a walker, cane, or rocking chair!

Rumor # 5 – Did you hear that Art is running for president in 2008 and that is why he is not doing TNT? I categorically deny that rumor! I can see how it got started. First, nearly every US citizen appears to be in the 2008 race. Second, I am hiking the Presidential Range in New Hampshire in a couple of weeks, so maybe that caused confusion. I am not running for President, but I am doing TNT again (see rumor # 1). Of course, like most Americans, I did form a Presidential Exploratory Committee, which came up with the following slogan for me:

In 2008, cast your vote for Art Ritter.
For Prez he’s first rate, always upbeat, not bitter.

But my exploratory committee found out that I was only projected to receive 74 votes in the whole country, and two of them were from my cats, so I gave up the idea. Of course if anyone running for political office categorically denies anything, they are lying – so you’ll have to be the final judge of this. I surely wish I could raise funds for the LLS as easily as presidential candidates bring in tens of millions of dollars with a few phone calls. Along those lines, I am thinking about taking a page from the presidential playbook, and having a $5,000 a plate fund raiser for TNT. You pay for a delicious dinner of “rubber chicken” with some overcooked veggies, and you’ll get to hob-nob with every rich and famous person I know. Plus, included in the $5,000 donation, you get your picture taken with me. Hey, if it works for the Clintons, the Guilianis, the Obamas, and the Romneys, why shouldn’t it work for me, especially since the cause is so much better?

Rumor # 6 – Did you know that Art only appreciates large donations? This is false. Of course large donations are thrilling but every donation is appreciated, and each one gets me that much closer to my goal, just as each step in the marathon gets me a little closer to finishing.

Rumor # 7 – Did you know that Art only will write an honoree name on his shirt if you donate $100 or more? False, false, false! A donation of any amount is the only thing required for me to add their name to my web page and to my race singlet. Regardless of what type of cancer they had or have, regardless of the donation amount, I will gladly add your loved one to my honoree list. I get a great deal of strength on race day of thinking of all of the honorees and what they have all been through.

Rumor # 8 – Did you know that Art did not hit his fund-raising goal last year, and so he lowered his goal this time around? The first part is true – I did not reach my goal last year. The second part is false, as I have raised my goal this year to $15,555. (Do you see a pattern with “fives” this time around?) When it comes to fund-raising for TNT, I apply a saying by Michelangelo: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. I plan on hitting my goal, but my goal can only really be attained with the help and generosity of many, many people.

I would really appreciate you visiting my web page, considering a donation of any amount, and passing on the link to friends and family if you feel so compelled:

In my first update email posting in a couple of weeks, I’ll discuss some questions I sometimes get asked about Team in Training.

Thanks again for considering a donation, and enjoy the day!

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Campaign Begins

July 9, 2007. My third annual TNT campaign is now underway! In six months, I'll be doing a marathon in Arizona. In the meantime, I have started my training again, although I am not really sure that I ever totally stopped it. I was a TNT mentor all winter and spring, working with the women and men going to events in Nashville, San Diego, and Anchorage. Since then, I've tried to get out for 3 to 6 mile walks with regularity, and also have done a number of long walks in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, along with a few – not enough – hikes in the Shenandoah Mountains. For Labor Day weekend, I need to be ready to do the Virginia Beach Half Marathon, and so will be training intensively for that well before I really would need to get serious for Arizona.

This will be my third marathon for Team in Training. I am now a five-year cancer survivor. In December, I will be in remission for five years, and that makes this marathon a really special one. A lot of cancer patients never make it to five years, but I have, and I've done two marathons along the way. I am one fortunate guy, and if I can raise some money that helps to solve blood cancers to pass that fortune on to someone else, I can't think of a better thing to do.