Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote, Y’all!

Tuesday! November 4, 2008! Election Day! Be there! VOTE!

I’m not telling you who to vote for. You can figure that out yourself. You don’t need me, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, or all these ridiculous TV commercials to tell you who to vote for.

If you’ve been bidin’ your time for a ticket like Obama – Biden, vote for them. If you think McCain – Palin is beyond the pale, vote for them. If you don’t like either, hold your nose and flip a coin. If you love ‘em both, do some more analysis, and pick one or the other.

Just vote! And if your candidate wins, celebrate for a second, but remember, our country and the world have big problems to solve, and it is going to take more than sound bites, campaign promises, and spin doctors to solve them. So be prepared to work hard for a better world. If your candidate loses, cry in your beer for a second, but then remember, it is the will of the people, so give him a chance to make our country better. And then pitch in and work to make it a better place, because whether it is president-elect McCain or president-elect Obama, they have a very tough job ahead of them and can use the help of informed and commited citizens!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Attack Ad

My Fellow Americans,

I am coming to you tonight to discuss a disturbing negative attack ad on my 2009 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. But first, let me update you briefly on my campaign.

Thank you to the 30 generous souls who have joined my 2009 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign by making a donation. Your donations will be used to make progress towards the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, to cure blood cancers. If you want to make a donation or see how I am doing, get information about my quest, or see the names of my honorees, go to my Team in Training webpage:

Perhaps you recently saw this vicious attack ad about my 2009 campaign on some of the major networks. No? Well, let me describe it for you. It started with the typical nasty opening that these ads contain:

“Art is a great person and a great patriot, but he is lying weasel and is wrong for America. We have only one thing to say to him – liar, liar, pants on fire!”

The ad continued with a series of charges and things I have supposedly lied about. During this part of the ad there were pictures of me as a kid superimposed with Civil War soldiers to emphasize that I am too old for this campaign, and a photo of me looking puzzled trying to send a text message to emphasize inexperience and being out of touch. Plus I had really bad hair and my big, black early 1970’s glasses! It then finished with the following:

“We need a young person with decades of experience who is in touch with 2009, has good judgment, and who has a steady hand on the tiller. Art hasn’t sailed a sailboat in years and can’t even remember how to use a tiller. Art is Wrong. Wrong for America. Wrong for Team in Training. Wrong for Tennessee. Wrong for the Country Music Marathon. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Plus did we mention that he is a lying weasel?”

“This advertisement sponsored and paid for by a partnership between Lobbyists Organized To Tell Aspersions and Citizens for Responsible Advertising in Politics (LOTTA / CRAP)”

Well, of course, I am not going to respond in kind by attacking back. TNT participants are positive, not negative, people. But I did ask the independent group Farcical Association for Checking Truths Systematically (FACTS) to examine the charges made by LOTTA / CRAP and report back on their accuracy. Here is their report.

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “Art was spotted many times over the last three years suspiciously associating with known domestic harriers, both men and women, in the pre-dawn darkness in a remote Richmond park.” FACTS finding: “This is true, since a harrier is a cross country / long distance runner. The TNT group does train together at Byrd Park, often while the rest of the world is still asleep Saturday mornings. This statement is obviously an attempt by LOTTA / CRAP to confuse and mislead the public into thinking that something inappropriate is going on.”

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “He’s lying about 1 American dying every 10 minutes from blood cancer; in fact, cancer is almost cured.” FACTS finding: “According to the latest report by the American Cancer Society, 20,510 Americans die from lymphoma, 10,690 from Myeloma, and 21,710 from leukemia. When totaled, this averages one death every 9.93 minutes. Cancer is not close to being cured, although progress is being made thanks, in part to efforts like this one. Art is telling the truth.”

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “Art’s plan is to tax the rich and the middle class and give the money to cancer research. If you support him, your taxes will go up 327%!” FACTS findings: “We have no idea how LOTTA / CRAP came up with this far-fetched claim. First, private citizens and volunteer groups don’t raise or lower taxes – that is the job of the U.S. Congress. Art’s campaign solicits voluntary donations only. In fact, since the government is not funding cancer research heavily, the only way that this disease will be cured is if citizens donate to charitable causes in order to do so.”

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “When he was in Alaska, he made this ridiculous statement that he was only 26.2 miles from a Russian Naval anchorage and therefore is uniquely qualified for dealing with the Russian Bear in marathon negotiating sessions. He also said that since Finland is next to Russia, he has a line on dealing with the Finnish people, too.” FACTS findings: “LOTTA / CRAP is totally wrong about this, and used Art’s statements out of context. The actual statement he made is that while in Alaska he saw a grizzly bear fishing. Then next day, he raced 26.2 miles in the Anchorage Marathon, and did not have time to contemplate his navel while rushin’ for the finish line.

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “Art shamelessly plays the race card and is always talking about his race.” FACTS reports: “This is another attempt by LOTTA / CRAP to muddy the waters. The race that Art talks about is not his race (‘an arbitrary classification of modern humans’) but his race (‘a contest of speed, as in running, riding, driving, or sailing’ – in this case, the Country Music Marathon). Since his mechanism of raising money to cure blood cancers is by way of the marathon, of course he would talk about this. We have found no evidence of him talking about any other definition of race.”

LOTTA / CRAP charged: “He did a marathon during the Midnight Sun and claimed it rained the whole time! Impossible! Everyone knows that the sun is not out at midnight and that when the sun is out, it is not raining. He’s lying, people! Again!” FACTS reports: “In June, 2005, Art raced in the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage. That was the name of the race, because it is in the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’. The race actually started at 8AM, and according to weather and race records, it did rain steadily almost all day that day.”

I hope that this report by FACTS will clear up the false charges and attempts to confuse and misinform that were logged by LOTTA / CRAP. Defeating cancer is a tough job, and we can only accomplish this with positive actions – there is no place for negativity. We have work to do! So roll up your sleeves, and join me for a better America and a better world!

Thanks again for your support to my 2009 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign!

Art Ritter in 2009 – He will go the distance for you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ultra-Marathoner

We marathoners take pride, with some justification, in being able to complete a 26.2 hour foot race. The best at it take only a little over 2 hours, which is mind-numbing to someone like me who needs six hours, including standing in a few porta-potty lines that the great marathoners never need. But I learned yesterday of an untra-marathoner that puts us all to shame.

This incredible athlete is the bar-tailed godwit, a type of shore bird. It turns out that this amazing animal flies from Alaska to New Zealand, non-stop, in nine days! That’s over 7,200 miles, or 800 miles a day! No eating or drinking! No resting! No sleeping! And no porta-potty stops! Beating those wings every second or so, or maybe even faster, for 9 days. That’s 216 hours! 12,960 minutes! 777,600 seconds! Non-stop! They are averaging about 33 miles per hour to pull off this seemingly impossible feat.

One secret they have is to double their weight before leaving for their jaunt. 50% of their body weight is fat at journey's start, and that is what they burn for the next nine days. So I got to thinking about that. I weigh 182 pounds. Now let’s say I have an extra 10 pounds of fat, because I should really weight about 172 – 175 pounds. So in order to make this kind of journey, I would need about 172 total pounds of fat. I have this 10 pound head start (thank goodness), so I only have to gain 162 pounds. If I had a month to put on the lard, and I need 2,000 calories a day for normal activity, I would have to consume 582,200 calories above and beyond that over the month. That comes down to a 21,440 calorie a day diet, total, including my 2,000 a day just to get by. What is that, like 4 cheesecakes a day? Bring them on! 80 chocolate bars? Make mine dark! Five or six tubs of ice cream a day? Wow, think of the flavors one could try!

After gorging beyond belief, the big day finally arrives. I groan - I knew I shouldn't have had those two apple pies at midnight - and slowly hoist my 344 pound bulk out of bed, wrap a blanket around myself because none of my clothes fit, and start running. I can’t fly, of course, never could even when I only weighed 182. I lumber down the driveway, the first 50 feet of a nine day, non-stop run. At 6 miles an hour, I will run 1,296 miles – not as impressive as the godwit but still a pretty fair marathon. I waddle down the street – man, this is going to be tough! I reach the main road and I’m getting hungry. Normally, I’ve eaten a cheesecake by now! But for the next nine days, no eating or drinking. No stopping. No rest breaks of any kind – yech! After about a mile, I suffer a massive coronary from arteries clogged from all that ice cream. Game, and trip, over! How do those little birds do it?

We humans tend to think of ourselves as pretty special and amazing, and that we are superior to all other life. The first part is true – no other animal does some of the things we are capable of. But the second part is not true at all. There are plenty of animals that in their own way are special and amazing as well, that can do things we can only marvel at. The bar tailed godwit is just one of them. The next time you run a marathon, hike all day, or make an all day drive and it seems exhausting, think of this bird’s journey.

Whoa – 6:15! Time to eat a chocolate cake and get ready for work!

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Make Comments on My TNT Donation Page

Several people have asked how to make comments that will appear on my TNT donation page, which is:

Comments will appear at the bottom of the page, and there are three steps to doing so.

1. Select or enter your desired donation amount in the donation area on the left hand side of my TNT web page.

2. A donation page will appear, and you can fill out all of the required data: name, address, phone, e-mail address, and credit card information. Towards the bottom of the form, just above the "donate now" button, is a checkbox that says "I want to edit my privacy options and/or send a message. Check this box.

3. A new data entry area will open up where you can specify additional data, including:

  • A message that will appear on my TNT web page at the bottom
  • Making your donation anonymous (but I won't be able to send you a thank you note)
  • Hiding your donation amount
  • Changing the way your name is shown on my web page
  • Specifying a name that your donation is in honor of or in memory of (you can also e-mail me honoree names using a link on my TNT donation page.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Campaign Buttons

Well, I was thinking, what does my campaign lack that the other high profile campaigns currently going on have? Obama has a kick-off annoucement, I have a kick-off announcement. McCain has a press conference, I have a press conference. McCain has Palin and Obama has Biden as their running mates, shortly I will have a whole stable of great running mates. Other than a few hundred million dollars, a staff of thousands, and TV ads (hey, I'm working on that) my 2009 Cancer Kickin' Campaign has everything the big boys have!

Then it hit me - I don't have a campaign button. How in the world could I have forgotten about that? What kind of a world class campaign doesn't have a campaign button???

Despite my name (that would be Art), I have the artistic talent of a bull moose, so I knew this was one time where I needed skilled and professional help. I mean, with all those big campaigns going on out there right now, how am I going to get noticed with some third-rate button (or 300th rate if I were to draw it)?

So I turned to my friend Lissa Bruster, a great graphic artist, a marathoner, and a former TNT teammate in the 2006 San Diego Marathon, and did she come through! Here they are - aren't they beauties?

McCain and Palin, Obama and Biden, eat your hearts out!!! You might have better name recognition, you might have $150 million in the bank, but I have better campaign buttons! And I bet I have better friends, too!

Thanks, Lissa - YOU ROCK!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Press Conference

Here is a transcript of Art’s Cancer Kickin’ Campaign’s first press conference.

“As told you in an email a few weeks ago, I am engaged in my fourth Team in Training marathon campaign, all to raise money in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to support their mission of curing blood cancers. I want to thank each of you for coming to my press conference. I had tried to be included in the debate tonight at Hofstra University, but the major (and minor) networks politely declined. So I scheduled this press conference instead.”

“As a lymphoma survivor myself, it is important that I do my part in joining this fight by way of encouraging and inspiring others to donate to this cause. I want to especially thank the 16 people so far who have joined my 4th Cancer Kickin’ Team by making a donation. It is only through the generosity and assistance of others that my campaign, and ultimately the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, can be successful.”

“Now I will take a few questions. Yes, you in the green shirt, front row…”

“Art, could you give us the addresses of your TNT donation web page and blog again?”

“I’m so glad you asked that question. My TNT web page URL is

You can get campaign details and make a donation there. My blog, where you can read all about campaign updates, is at

Yes, on the left, yellow dress…”

“Art, a lot of folks don’t like to use their credit cards on the internet. Can they donate?”

“Certainly! While the LLS site is totally secure, some people will prefer writing a check. They can make the check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and e-mail me to make arrangements to get it to me. Yes, in the back, red dress…”

“Art, It’s been said you’re too old for another marathon campaign. We’ve heard talk on the internet that you used to baby-sit John McCain. You’re a grandpa now, for crying out loud! Don’t you think this is beyond your capabilities and you should step aside and let younger people do it?”

“I’m not going to dignify that question with an answer. Yes, second row, in the purple skirt and white top…”

“Art, Have you decided on a running mate yet?”

“Not yet. Actually with Team in Training, the more correct term is ‘running mates’, because we always have a lot of teammates who train together for these events. When the actual team forms the beginning of November, I’ll know who my running mates will be. Rest assured, they are among the finest Americans it has been my privilege to know! And they will have all the necessary experience, drive, and dedication to get the job done! Yes, front row on the far left…”

“Art, half the people polled in the Gallup Poll say you are too conservative, the other half say you are too liberal. How the heck do you expect to get any support for your Cancer Kickin’ Campaign?”

“Look, cancer doesn’t care if you are conservative or liberal. It is an equal opportunity killer – all ages, genders, races, nationalities, and political persuasions. This is a great cause, and I know I will get people’s support. OK, the guy right of center with the big sneer…”

“Yeah, Art, a lot of people are saying you are too inexperienced for this type of campaign, and…”

“Just a second, here! Inexperienced? This is my fourth marathon and my fourth fund-raising campaign for TNT, how in the world can you say…”

“With all due respect, we are talking about curing cancer here, Art. Other than a dated, to put it politely, biology degree from Villanova, what experience do you have to cure cancer? What do you know about developing a new monoclonal antibody, for example?”

“You misunderstand the purpose of my campaign. I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and they fund grants to researchers to conduct cancer research, with the goal of coming up with an ultimate cure. One of the real success stories is Gleevec, the development of which was funded largely by LLS. This drug now means there is effective treatment for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, as well as some other cancers. The Society also provides great patient services and outreach, as well as educational materials and advocacy. Neither I nor anyone donating to LLS through me can necessarily tell glucose from deoxyribonucleic acid, but we are still playing a role in the ultimate cure. And yes, I am very well experienced to play that role and to conduct this campaign! Yes, in the middle, guy with the purple Mohawk…”

“Art, don’t you think that cancer survivors are too weak and infirm to be out on the campaign trail and doing a marathon?”

“I have two words for you – no, not those two words – ‘Lance Armstrong!’ Yes, the lady in the pink dress in the third row…”

“Art, times are really…”

“I apologize for the interruption, but I wanted to add to my answer to the last question. I need to remind you, just in the 2008 Presidential Campaign, about the influence of cancer and that these people were out there campaigning away, 24/7. There was Fred Thompson – lymphoma. John McCain – melanoma. Elizabeth Edwards, the love of John Edwards’ life – breast cancer. Uh, actually, I don’t think I want to go in the direction of John Edwards. I’m just glad I’m not in his position, so to speak. Sorry, back to your question…”

“That’s quite all right. Art, times are really hard for Americans. $4.00 a gallon gasoline earlier this year. The mortgage crisis. Fannie and Freddie. Soaring credit card debt. The stock market crash. Your goal of $14,645 is really difficult. How can you raise that much money in such tough economic times?”

“Look, donations are totally voluntary. No one should donate to my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign if it puts their family at financial risk. But most people can, and will, donate generously to a great cause. And what better cause than helping to cure cancer – maybe a making a donation that helps saves your life, or the life of your child or grandchild some day? Besides, this is hard work, and I want to raise as much money as I can for this cause while I am putting out this kind of effort. Each of you decides whether to donate, and if so, how much. Yes, second from the back row, on the right there. No, the other right…”

“Someone who donates $100,000 to Obama or McCain gets instant access to a future president. Why should anyone donate to you? What will you give them, Art?

“This money goes to the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – to cure blood cancers – not to get political favors. In past campaigns, I have gotten donations of $10 to $1,000, and have been grateful and thrilled for each and every donation to LLS. However, here’s a great deal for you – anyone out there who wants to donate $100,000 to one of the presidential contenders, why don’t you go ahead and donate $90,000 to them and donate the other $10,000 to LLS through me? I bet you get the same great presidential access and favors, and you are doing a great deed at the same time. OK, last question, third row, left side …”

“Yes, Art, what assurance do we have that you will really do this race once people donate to you? How do we know you won’t just sleep in on marathon day, then lounge around in your PJ’s, slurping a latte and eating bon-bons?”

“Fair question. I’ve done Team in Training three times now, and I have never shirked my responsibility to do what I said I would do. I look on this as a trusted pact between me and my donors. They use their fingers to write a check or to make an on-line donation on my web page, and I will use my legs to race a long distance event. Rest assured, short of an illness or injury, I will be training 25 – 50 miles each week and doing the full race on the race date. That’s why my campaign slogan is “Art Ritter in ’09 – He’ll go the distance for you!”

“Thanks again for coming, and for considering a donation to my 2008-09 TNT Campaign. Thanks for helping me do my part to make a positive difference, and to help cure cancers.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Information Meeting

I attended a TNT info meeting tonight, where we tell potential particpants about Team in Training and hope to sign some of them up. I will be a mentor this season as well as a participant, and mentors and coaches go to the meeting to help out, talk to people who come there, and answer questions. We also have a coach and a mentor speak to the group. I also got to see some old friends there, which was a bonus.

It is amazing to me that just 3 and a half years ago, I knew so little about Team in Training and was sitting at an info meeting just like this one, really wanting to do this but nervous about it. I was especially nervous about trying to raise $5,000, and now it doesn't feel intimidating at all to go for it and try! To see my story about that meeting in January 2005, go here.

Just seeing the TNT pitch once more, watching Amber tell us so enthusiastically about TNT, watching the video, I realized I cannot wait to get out there with the team! We have three more meetings to recruit a team, and then the season will begin with training on November 8. Tonight we signed up about 7 or 8 people, with several others sounding very interested. It would be great to have a large team this season. The spring team will have four venues:

  • Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon, Nashville, TN
  • Fletcher Flyer 100 mile bike race, near Asheville, NC
  • St. Anthony's Triathlon, Tampa Bay, FL

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Counting Steps

I've seen recommendations that one should walk at least 10,000 steps each day, and so I decided to count my steps yesterday to see how I measure up to that standard. So I wore my trusty Omron pedometer, which I highly recommend. It appears to be very accurate, and has a 7 day memory. It works clipped to your belt or in your pocket. If you do the latter, may I suggest removing the pedometer from your pocket prior to throwing your pants into the wash? I failed to do that with my first one, and found that it didn't work really well after that experience. Basically, I exceeded it's design parameters, so now I am on my second one. I look on the first one as a $35 lesson to be less careless.

My step total for yesterday was 16,352 steps, so I exceeded the minimum suggested amount.

I started the day out with a brisk but short 3+ mile walk before work. This walk accounted for the 5,445 "aerobic" steps that I took yesterday. The pedometer counts steps as aerobic once you walk for 10 minutes or more continually, so my remaining 11,000 steps were in dribs and drabs.

I almost always take the stairs at work. I work on the sixth floor of the building. I usually walk to see someone at work rather than use the phone, and these trips add up, especially if they are on a different floor. Other than the three mile walk in the morning yesterday, a walk of maybe 1/2 mile at lunch to meet a friend for lunch outside on a gorgeous day, and a walk of about a mile at night to the grocery store at night, most the other walking was just around the office, and to and from the parking garage, of course.

Based on my pace of about 36 inches, those steps added up to over 9 miles! Now that is on the high side, because I am not always walking at my normal pace in the office or going up steps. But I think that 7-8 miles of walking would be in the ballpark. It is good to know that by adding in a few short walks, my normal business day gets me well above 10,000 steps. I've not had much time lately for formal workouts, so any little bit I can do to get exercise is important.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Finally, a Little Training

The month of September was very hectic and a little chaotic for me. Due to a number of events, to include but not limited to the illness and death of my stepdad and corresponding drives to Pennsylvania and back, several family visits, and a week-long family reunion last week, my time to get in any workouts has been very limited for about a month.

That changed today. I had hoped to go for a hike, but was feeling pretty worn out from last week’s reunion, which included numerous drives to the Norfolk and Richmond airports to pick up and drop off family members. So driving to the mountains and back today was just not that appealing, despite the beautiful late-summer weather we had.

A reasonable compromise was to do a walk-run in Deep Run Park, not far from my home. There is a nice 1.8 mile trail there, and most of it goes through pretty wooded areas, with some of it near picnic shelters and little ponds. The trail is paved, so is easily used by walkers, runners, bikers, and people pushing baby strollers. There are also some little hilly sections to add to the workout. Later in the season, the leaves will be colorful there, but right now, it is still summer-like and green in the Old Dominion.

I did the trail twice, alternating between about 4-5 minutes of walking and 2-3 of running. This was a good compromise, given my lack of physical activity recently, and felt really good. It is a nice park for a lot of reasons, not the least being the variety of people one sees there. Folks walking dogs, fishing, jogging, biking, pushing baby carriages. Big family picnics. Young – and not so young – lovers holding hands, kissing, and whispering sweet nothings in one another’s ears. Mothers and fathers taking their kids to the lakes. People throwing Frisbees or balls to one another. Budding naturalists looking at plants, birds, and turtles. Little kids playing at the playground and swinging on the swings. People just enjoying being alive on a beautiful day. There is a little bit of everything at Deep Run Park, all of it seemingly peaceful, and it was a nice place to spend 45 minutes in the outdoors, while getting at least some exercise and doing a few miles.

Later, I did a workout for about an hour or so in the gym, lifting some weights, using some of the machines, and doing crunches – especially crunches! After all I have eaten last week at the family reunion – about 50,000 calories a day it seems like – a sense of guilt drove me to do extra crunches on the crunch bench. It was a type of penance for gluttony, I suppose. I set a personal record – 1,300 crunches without stopping. Earlier this year, about 500 felt like plenty, so I am making progress despite slacking off some.

Official training with the team is still about five weeks away, but I am hoping that using today as a springboard, I can get back into a regular workout habit again.