Monday, October 29, 2007
Now it looks like this week, I will have my first cold weather training. So far, everything has been in shorts and a tee, but those days are gone for now. I also got in my earliest training of the season last week, starting at 4:15AM to get in 8 miles. I call this starting at "O-Dark Hundred". Yep, I can tell we are coming down the stretch!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This photo is just the walk team, at least all who were at training this day. From left to right, we are Suzanne, Theresa (my mentor), me, Michal (our walk coach), and Robbi. They are the best!
Theresa was training for Virginia Beach, but blew out an Achilles tendon, and signed on to the winter team. While I hate the fact that she hurt herself, I love having her on our team. She will be doing the PF Chang's half-marathon, her first event. So she will be my travel teammate for the trip to Arizona. Her husband, Warren, is wrapping up treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Suzanne is a champion fund-raiser for TNT.
Theresa is not only my mentor but a TNT participant, raising money for LLS while preparing for the Walt Disney Marathon. She is a half marathon vet, but this will be her first full 26.2 marathon. She is a great mentor, always positive and keeps us motivated. She is always out there training right along with us, and almost always puts out gummy worms for us - which we find with delight. She has pet ferrets, and is a proud and active Mary Baldwin grad.
Michal is our awesome coach, and she and I trained together in 2005 when we both did TNT for the first time - she doing San Diego and me Alaska, both of us walking a full marathon. She was a delight to train with, and still is. She is a dedicated and skilled coach. In April, she and her husband Tim will have their first baby, so she is slowing down on her training for now. But she is always out there with us, even if she can't always go the full miles. Like Theresa, she is also a proud Mary Baldwin grad! Go Squirrels!
Robbi is a lawyer that contradicts every lawyer joke you've ever heard because unlike the lawyers in the jokes, she is just a wonderful and fun person. She is a proud Penn State grad - go Nittany Lions - and although this is her first TNT event and first marathon, she once danced in like a 48 hour dance marathon. She makes training such fun because she is a great story teller and keeps us in stitches with her wonderful and lively stories. I know that come January, I will miss those stories.
These great women are the best and make every Saturday training fun - the miles just slip by no matter how far we are out there. It is wonderful to have teammates like these, so dedicated to our cause of curing blood cancers. I know that when we are all done, I will miss our weekly rendevous at Byrd Park.
On the fund raising front, we are preparing for our Silent Auction this Thursday night, October 25, at Relish in Shockoe Bottom. Join us if you can - free appetizers and lots of items to bid on!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Family reunions are always fun, and we had a good group there, including some extended family members. We had people coming from six states to celebrate my sister’s birthday a bit late, and my Step-dad’s birthday. The hiking that my two brothers and I did was more of a quick afternoon get-away, starting pretty late in the day. The days are so much shorter in October, but the weather was perfect for a hike. The Catskills are a pretty area, but are not nearly as rugged as the Adirondacks. The trail to connect to the main trail was a little confusing, and coming back near dusk, we missed part of the trail and ended up finally just guessing where to go. By the time we got out, it was nearly dark. You would think that three guys all fairly experienced in the outdoors would have brought at least one GPS receiver between them.
My other workout occurred this past Sunday, when I did a 19.5 mile round trip hike to North Carolina from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was further than I was supposed to train, but it felt really cool to hike all the way to NC and back. The weather was gorgeous, and many miles of the walk were along a beautiful and remote beach. Hiking to the NC border and back was another event that I wanted to do to celebrate surviving cancer for five years, and of course I wanted a photo at the border. Just as certainly, both sets of batteries for my camera, which I had recharged only a week ago, were totally dead. They did last long enough to get this photo of the entrance to False Cape State Park, about four miles into my walk:
The hike is very flat, as this is essentially the Outer Banks of Virginia. The first four miles go through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, with many views of marshes, sloughs, ponds, and water-filled ditches created by dikes. There is almost always wildlife to be seen: a variety of turtles, ducks, geese, herons, egrets, rails and other wading birds, seabirds, deer, gray fox, coyote, raccoon, and snakes. There are also supposedly bobcat and there are definitely feral hogs, although I’ve never seen these species. I’ve seen wild horses on at least a few occasions.
Once out of Back Bay, you come to False Cape State Park, which has to be one of the most remote beaches on the east coast, since it is a four mile walk or bike ride. This too has a variety of wildlife and environments, but the way I went, you come to a beautiful beach after about a mile and a half. From there it is a straight shot of nearly five miles to the North Carolina border, all pristine beach. On my entire walk through False Cape, I saw one other person until I got to North Carolina. There is a large fence at the border to keep cars out of Virginia, because people actually drive something like 12 miles up the beach from Corolla, NC to get to their huge beach homes at the border. I imagine beach property is a lot less when there aren’t any roads, but it still must be incredibly expensive.
I did the hike back entirely on the beach, which was nine miles of walking. I saved a couple miles by not going through the marshes and trails of the park and the wildlife refuge. When I was nearly back to the parking lot in Back Bay, there was a friendly couple fishing in the surf. When I told them I had just walked 20 miles, they reached into a cooler and produced an ice-cold Sierra Nevada pale ale. It was one of the most delicious things I ever drank.
After the nearly 20 mile walk, I took a long ice water bath. I am now trying to recover from sore muscles and blisters, and will do more conventional marathon training in the coming weeks.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
There is a tee-shirt that I see at some of the marathons, and it says “If you think a marathon is hard, try chemotherapy!” Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both chemotherapy and marathons, and I guarantee you that this is a true statement. Trust me on this one.
OK, I can sense what you are thinking: “Fortunate to experience chemotherapy??? Is he nuts?” Well maybe, but let me explain. I did my marathons 3 and 4 years after starting chemo. So since I got lymphoma by the luck of the draw, I am fortunate that there was a way to treat it, and I am fortunate that I survived, got healthy again, and got strong enough to do two marathons. Lots of people are not nearly as lucky as I am.
Thanks again to the 68 people / couples who donated to LLS through me, putting me at about 23% of my goal. You can get detailed information about what I am doing and make a donation if you so choose by going to my TNT web page:
I’ve done two marathons, and will do my third this coming January. I’ve done chemotherapy once, for six months, and would just as soon never have to repeat the experience. From notes and emails, I’d like to compare the two “endurance events” next to each other. Judge for yourself which one sounds tougher. Here are some notes from different points along the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage in 2005, each note followed by a fragment from an email from either Mary or me to family in friends in 2002 when I was undergoing chemo:
Milepost 4 – Feeling good, striding along. Mountains are so pretty. Rain has slackened. How cool to be doing my first marathon in Alaska of all places – I feel so grateful.
June 7, 2002 (Art): Yesterday afternoon I had the radio on and Beethoven's 7th symphony was playing. Part way through I got a sudden urge to kneel on the floor and pay homage to the porcelain god and rushed into the bathroom, wrapping my arms around his cool being. In case you non-classical music fans are wondering, the sudden urge to puke was not initiated by the music but by my 4 toxic buddies.
Milepost 11 – Solid rain, forget about pictures. The trail climbs and is narrower now, very slick and muddy. We spray mud with each stride over ourselves and each others. Will this rain ever stop? Where is this midnight sun we keep hearing so much about?
August 8, 2002 (Art): I am feeling sick today and also so tired, but it goes with the territory. Better days ahead.
Milepost 24 – Oh, my God! I know I will finish now. I do two miles all of the time. I will be a marathoner today. The blisters will heal, the cold and wet fade, the sore muscles recover, but I will always be a marathoner. I feel a huge smile.
August 29, 2002 (Mary): Art is still in the hospital. Of course, he is hoping to be released soon, but his doctor has given no indication when that will be. The blood cultures are negative so far, so the fever is FUO - fever of unknown origin. (note – it turned out later that the fever was from lung damage caused by one of the chemo drugs).
Milepost 25 – A mile to go is nothing. Rain coming in sideways. At 25.75 Coach Bob meets me with his moose head hat. I start talking, then babbling. I tell him about my friend Allan and his birthday today, how he just died of cancer. I tell him about some of the other names on my shirt. I start talking about how I swore I would do something like this when I had cancer, and now I was doing it. I realize that I am close to tears and have to shut up for a while.
October 3, 2002 (Art): Today marks the 4 month anniversary of the first chemo, which at the time seemed like a very long period ahead to face. I remember going in that first day feeling somewhat scared about starting it, now it just seems routine and I go in smiling figuring it is one step closer to completion. It is nice to be on the downward side of this thing from all indications to date.
Milepost 26 – My God, thanks for this. I am nearly a marathoner! I feel strong. Everything hurts, feet, legs, but the feeling is great. My smile feels a mile wide as I cross the finish line at 26.2. Three years, two weeks, and one day after starting ABVD chemotherapy and feeling so scared that day, I am a marathoner!
November 11, 2002 (Mary): Well, we have come to the end of the first week of the last 28 day chemo cycle! Art seems to have had a hard time of it this week. He is more tired, more hoarse, and in more of a "chemo fog" than he has been in several months.
Crossing the finish line in Anchorage was an incredible and uplifting feeling, maybe the proudest day of my life. In a totally different way, crossing that last chemotherapy “finish line” and knowing that my days in the chemo room were finished felt just great! It was a tough, but life saving, process. Every second of every day, there are incredible numbers of people going through everything that I went through with cancer, and experiencing much, much worse things.
The primary mission of the LLS is to cure blood cancers. I am trying to be part of that, to make that lofty goal possible. Those of you who have made a donation, or will make a donation, are part of that as well. Wouldn’t it be great if in five, 10, or 15 years, there were tee-shirts that read “If you think that chemotherapy is hard, try running a marathon?” Help me to help make it so!
Best wishes, and thanks.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I posted the following on my TNT fund-raising web page:
SURVIVORS! This photo was from the 2006 Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego. It was June 4, 2006 and Sharon, Nicki, and I were up well before dawn to each go 26.2 miles to help in the fight against cancer - a day that none of us will ever forget. As challenging as a marathon is, each of the three of us had already been through something much more difficult - surviving cancer. Sharon survived breast cancer, Nicki non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and I Hodgkin lymphoma. So each of us was more than willing to exert ourselves in the hope of making a difference in finding a cure for blood cancers, and for all cancers. Thanks for helping us make a difference!