Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taper - a Lovely Word!

December 30, 2007. The hip is feeling pretty good thanks to some exercises and the cortisone shot of two weeks ago, and I was able to get in all my workouts this week. Now I have a Christmas cold, but I have still gotten my miles in. We are in our three week "taper" period, where our mileages decrease each week up until race day. For example, I did 28 miles this past week, a far cry from earlier weeks of 40 miles. That also means I am missing a little less sleep, which helps with the cold. Marathoners LOVE to hear the coaches say it was time for tapering. There is a huge difference between doing 7 or 8 miles before work and 4 miles. For us walkers, that means 30 – 60 more minutes of sleep. All of the pounding we take gets a little chance to heal.

Yesterday was supposed to be a 12 miler, but with one of my teammates injured and it pouring rain much of the time, we shortened it to 10 miles. Everyone on the team was soaked to the skin, and especially having wet running shoes and socks is miserable. But at least it was not a 20 mile day, and at least we were all healthy enough to be out there doing 10 miles in the rain. It surely felt great to get home, put on some dry clothes, stretch out, drink a couple of mugs of hot tea, and get a shower. With the race only two weeks away, I am hoping that this cold is gone soon.

Photo for this post:

I've been in Arizona once before. It was 2000, and cancer was still nearly two years in the future. Neither lymphoma nor marathons had crossed my mind as I explored a bit of the awesome Grand Canyon. Yet, more than seven years later, I am preparing to return to Arizona as a lymphoma survivor and as a marathoner to do my third marathon for Team in Training. Thanks for helping to make this endeavor a success!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Slowing down for my Hip

December 22, 2007. I missed a week of training due to the hip injury, which was painful enough that walking at any speed was out of the question. A cortisone shot made all the difference in the world, and I am back into training, with slightly reduced miles. For example, I only did about 15.5 miles yesterday instead of the 20 that was on the schedule. With only three weeks to go to race day, it is more important to not injure myself again than it is to train every mile. I have worked really hard to get ready for this race, and don't want to miss it. So over the next few weeks, as we enter our "taper" period, I will be doing some exercises to strengthen the adductor muscles. If need be, I will slow down a little for the race. Right now, my goals are to finish in any time and to not hurt myself again.

I keep telling myself that it is not my time in the marathon that counts, but my time at the marathon. It would be different if I were a world class marathoner or even trying for Boston, but that is most assuredly not the case.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some Stats, and More Q&A

Update and Fund Raising Message of December 11, 2007

Hello with my last TNT update for 2007. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all! In this update, I’ll talk about a few fun statistics about training and fund raising, and answer a few more questions. First, a couple of quick updates.

Fund raising has gone really well since my last update a few weeks ago, and I am now at 64% of my goal! I am excited about this, because I am starting to see that my goal is reachable, even though it is a challenge. If you want to read about what I am doing, see more updates, make a donation online, or see my honoree list, just go out to my website:

If you want to make a donation by check, just contact me and I will give you the details.

Training was going really well. I celebrated 5 years in remission from lymphoma this weekend by walking 20 miles, giving myself bursitis in the right hip in the process. It is way too painful to train right now, and I am a little stressed about it with the marathon just one month away.

Here are some stats (to date) about this season, just for the fun of it, and for a change of pace in these notes.

Stats about Fund Raising (I am grateful for all donations of any amount):
Total dollars raised: $9,976.75 (Who will put me over $10,000?)
# of people / couples making donations: 102
Largest donation: $1,000 by Computer Resource Team
# of people making more than one donation: 6
Most unusual donation amounts: $155.55 (1% of my goal); $26.20
Most common donation amounts: $25 (37 donors); $50 (24); $100 (19)

Stats about Training:
Longest training at one time: 20.5 miles
Most miles before work: 12 miles; 10 miles (twice)
Most miles after work: 10 miles
Most unusual training: To the NC border and back from Back Bay, 19.6 miles
Weeks of training lost due to injury or illness: 8 counting this week
Weeks lost due to a training related injury: 1 week
Earliest training start: 4:15 AM
Lowest temperature while training: about 25 degrees
Highest temperature while training: about 90 degrees

Now, on to some more questions I sometimes get asked about my involvement in Team and Training.

What was your best TNT moment? There have been so many amazing moments, but I think my best was about mile 25 of the Anchorage Marathon in 2005. I was soaked and cold, had been going with blisters on both feet for about 12 miles, and everything from the hips down hurt. Standing in the rain, obviously for hours, was a lady holding a big sign that read “Leukemia Survivor – Thanks!”. That one person, and one moment, made everything totally worthwhile.

Are you walking or running the marathon? I am walking it for the most part. I’ve had so many injury setbacks this year that I’ve not been able to run as much as I’d originally hoped. So at this point, I am walking the whole thing with the possible exceptions of a few minutes now and then when I need a change of pace. Walking a marathon is not as hard as running a marathon, but it is plenty hard enough for me.

How fast do you walk? Well, this week, very slowly with the bursitis. In fact, a snail passed me today, leaving me in the dust, sneering at me as he raced by. But when I am not injured, I walk at somewhere between a 13.75 and 14.5 minute mile pace. My last marathon, if you take out time for waiting in porta potty lines, my pace would have been about 13.8 minutes per mile average for 26.2 miles. For short distances, say under 7 miles, I can average about 13.25 to 13.5 minutes per mile but have not been able to sustain that for long distances.

How much is the marathon fee and is it refundable if you are not able to be in the race? The marathon fee is three gallons of sweat, a dozen blisters, two hours in ice water baths, and 60 hours of sleep missed while sane people are still in bed. Sometimes, you can negotiate a “black toe” in exchange for the blisters, but since it takes about 10 months for the toenail to grow back, it is probably better to go with the blisters. None of these fees are refundable.

Do you really take ice water baths? I do after long training walks, say 15 miles and longer, and after the marathon. It is miserable for about 10 seconds and then not so bad, and really helps with soreness the next day by removing a lot of inflammation. I stay in the ice water for about 15 minutes. I always have a little fear that I will get too cold to get out of the tub and get hypothermia. Wouldn’t that make a great headline in the Richmond Times Dispatch? But so far, I have always been motivated enough to get out of the tub.

Well, thanks for reading my update, and for those of you that have donated, many thanks beyond that!

Carpe Diem!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Five Years Remission!

December 10, 2007. Yesterday was my five year cancer remission date! Woo Hoo! I wrote a lot more about five years remission on my previous post, “Mission Moment”, so I won’t bore you with more about that. I will just say how grateful I am to have made it to this time, and for how much I have done in the past five years. Thank you, God!

At training on Saturday, I celebrated by walking 20 miles. Afterwards, my teammates treated me to a B&B - balloons and bagels! Of course, the balloons were purple and green, the Team in Training colors, and there were five of them. It was a lot of fun - what a great bunch of folks they are! Unfortunately, my camera was not available so I didn’t get to record the moment. It is in my mind, though.The bad news is that the 20 miles on concrete pavement has led to bursitis in my right hip, which is incredibly painful. Training on the road is not in the cards for at least a few days, but a trip to an orthopedist is. The timing of an injury is not great with the marathon less than five weeks away, but it is what it is. Injuries, minor and not, are just part of marathon training. It is difficult to avoid them entirely, although we try.

Photo for this post:

These feet have gone thousands of miles since August, and on January 13 will collectively go a couple hundred more. One of our mottos is "Changing lives one mile at a time" because as we work individually and as a team to raise money for LLS and get in shape for a marathon, we are indeed changing lives - those of people who have or will have cancers, and our own as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A "Mission Moment"

I wrote this Mission Moment on December 5, 2007 for the Winter and Spring Teams

This coming weekend is a big milestone for me. I will reach the five year remission mark this Sunday – I call it my “Gimme 5” milestone. It was five years ago that my last chemo cycle ended, and my seven month saga with Hodgkin lymphoma was over. A CT scan a week or so later confirmed that my body had no evidence of cancer remaining. What an incredible feeling that was! I was still weak and tired, and remember coming down with a severe cold right after that, but that all seemed minor. I guess there are probably a lot of factors that played a role in my survival, including the luck of the draw, the grace of God, determination, a positive attitude, family and friends, health insurance, good medical care, decent physical conditioning, and medical research. I think that is probably only a partial list.

Note one item in that list – medical research. Think about it. In 2002, my odds of reaching this point were great for cancer – about 80 to 85%. Only a few decades before, a blink of an eye in human history, my odds would have been maybe 40%. Not too long before that, maybe 10%. As my oncologist told me once during chemo, “Hodgkin lymphoma is one of our real medical success stories. When I (this is the doctor speaking, not me) was an intern back in the 1960’s, people who got it received treatment for six months or so, were incredibly sick, and then died.” The difference is medical research, clinical trials, new drugs, and a near exponential growth in medical knowledge.

There is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t reflect for at least a few minutes about how grateful I am to be a cancer survivor. I am very well aware that it didn’t have to be that way, and is not that way for so many people. I think often of people working on this problem back in the 1950’s – 1970’s, working to save my life decades later. They had no idea, and I don’t know them. I can’t thank them, at least not directly. So I am thanking you, because some time in the future, someone who doesn’t know you will be thanking you. They will have survived because of some medical advance that was funded by all of our collective efforts. Thanks so much for getting involved in TNT, and working to make a difference.

Art (Winter Team for the Arizona Marathon)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Great to be with the Team Again!

December 2, 2007. Because of the trip to Michigan and Thanksgiving plans, I had not trained with the team in four weeks until yesterday. It is so much easier doing these long miles, 14 of them yesterday, with the support and company of one's teammates. When one is out doing 15 or 20 miles by oneself, one can get very bored with the company. I love music and would love to listen to it while training, but it is just so important to be fully alert. We train on roads and streets, and many drivers are totally unaware that anyone other than themselves use the road. In particular, pedestrians are hard to see and appear to be held in contempt at times. So not wishing to end of as road kill, I don’t train with headphones, as tempting as it is at times. But on our Saturday training, we all chat about different topics as we train. Being walkers, we are not usually out of breath. It is always good to catch up, and particular this week since I hadn’t seen my teammates for nearly a month.

Our team is small, as the winter team usually is. TNT does teams in three seasons - spring, fall, and winter. In the other seasons, there are usually 5 or 6 events, but only 3 events for the winter. But while the team is a small one, it is composed of really wonderful women and men. Our coaches, Michal and Sarah, are first rate and so supportive and dedicated, as is my mentor, Theresa. And my teammates are just all really good people. While we all enjoy trying to make a difference in the war against cancer, it is a pleasure to be with great folks while doing so and working so hard.