Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be it Resolved!

Happy New Year! I ended 2008 on a good note, doing my five miler this afternoon. It felt tough, I guess because of the high winds – gusting up to about 40 or more knots. At times it felt like I was walking and running through water, plus I had to keep taking my hat off as it would blow away.

For whatever reason, the running was not coming easy so I walked most of it, averaging 13 minute miles for the five miles. Every time I ran, I got winded after a few minutes. I started out running three minutes and walking two minutes, but it just wasn’t working out. Near the end, having walked for about 20 minutes straight, I ran for 7 minutes straight by reducing my pace a little bit.

With 2009 on the way, I was thinking about some specific resolutions related to Team in Training, staying fit, staying positive. I don’t normally write down resolutions, much less share them with the world, but I will this once. I'll check back on these now and then to see how I am doing.

Get down to an ideal weight. I’ve gained a few pounds over the holidays and am probably now about 8 pounds above my ideal weight. It should be very doable to get to it if I keep working out. Actually, if I can fit back into two old pairs of jeans I have hanging in the closet, I don’t care what my weight is.

Stick with my TNT training schedule each week, completing 90% of the scheduled 5 to 6 a week trainings. Yeah, it means missing sleep and being tired, but that goes with staying in shape if you work full time.

Complete my TNT event – still not sure yet if it will be the full or the half marathon. Whichever I do, make it a personal record.

Knowing that I may not be able to make my fund raising goal, keep taking actions to try to make it happen. And if I don’t get there, don’t get too discouraged about it if I truly gave it my best shot.

Complete the Monument Avenue 10K this March with a personal record – that would be less than 1 hour 9 minutes.

Do a breast cancer race in honor of my sister and many others. Hopefully, raise a little money for breast cancer research at the same time.

After my TNT event is over, stay involved with TNT by coming to a few trainings as a patient honoree, and helping with at least a couple “water stops” for each season.

Find the time to go on at least one three day backpacking trip in the upcoming year.

Hike more often after my TNT season is finished – at least two hikes a month.

Continue to run and walk enough after the TNT season is completed to stay in “close to half-marathon shape.”

Be much more dedicated about stretching and improving flexability. Included in this would be getting back to the PT and strengthening exercises I have for my hip.

Be much better about taking care / rehabilitating that rotator cuff tear that has been bedeviling me since June, 2007.

Keep working on general conditioning and strength, and on core body strength.

Reflect at least a minute or two each day about feeling grateful for the gift of that day. Even if things are not ideal that day, or things are not going my way, I am lucky to still be alive to experience the day.

Don’t take life and health for granted. Things changed for me in a flash, like a bolt from the blue, six years ago and they could again, at any time. Try to seize the day, even work days which have been very difficult to seize.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Faster Than a Locomotive!

Faster than a locomotive!

That’s what I was today. No, really, I was! And the locomotive was even moving.

I took a walk at lunch, just a two mile leg-stretcher get-the-blood-flowing kind of thing. I walked down to the Robert E. Lee Bridge, and on the way back, I noticed a huge locomotive towing coal from the mountains to the sea. It was chugging along, moving in the same direction as I was. Suddenly I noticed that I was keeping up with it, walking at a slightly slower than normal pace. No, wait – could it be? I was creeping ahead of it! I picked up my pace to close to my normal race walking pace and clearly, I was gaining on it. After about a quarter mile, when I had to turn uphill to get back to work, I had gained about 200 feet on it. So at least today, at about 1PM, along the James River in Richmond, Virginia, I was faster than a moving locomotive. It went about a quarter mile (1,360 feet) and I went about 1,560 feet in the exact same amount of time. Never had that happen before!

It got me thinking about how I would fare in other contests with locomotives, and I think I would stack-up pretty well.

Faster (today) – Art
Faster to get from Richmond to Hampton Roads – Locomotive
Faster without tracks to ride on – Art
Faster to get from Richmond to Hampton Roads without tracks to ride on – Art
Longer time before wearing out a pair of running shoes - Art
Uses less energy to travel a mile – Art (about 100 kcal)
Carries more cargo for a mile – Locomotive
Looks better in a purple Team in Training race shirt – Art
Can jump higher – Art (not by much, though)
Faster to get up a mountain trail – Art
Raises more money to combat cancer – Art
Goes further on a single tank of fuel – Locomotive
Faster to cross a steam without a very strong bridge – Art

Art 10, Locomotive 3

I think for my next race, instead of just writing Art on the front of my purple shirt, I will write “Locomotive Art”. But that is kind of long, so I will probably shorten it, so that it fits across the front of my shirt, to “Loco Art” . Somehow, that seems appropriate, don’t you think?

Mentoring e-Mail # 8

Happy New Year, everyone!

It is I, your Artful Mentor, once again, faithfully writing my Tuesday message to you. You are thinking “Why couldn’t my Artful Mentor be less faithful, just for one crummy week?” But ‘tis not to be, at least not in 2008. Perhaps you will have better luck in 2009, but I don’t think I would count on that were I you. I am already noting in my New Years resolutions: “faithfully email my unfortunate mentees every week.”

I have only one main reminder for you – the silent auction in a few weeks. Jen’s email reminded you of the particulars today, so I will not needlessly repeat that. But I do have a request of you: please e-mail what items you have garnished for the silent auction. I will do two things with this list:

1. I will let Nicki, Mentor Captain Extraordinaire, know what these are so that the owners of Big Al’s will know what they will have to provide space for.

2. I will note them on a page on my blog that you can use, if you wish, to let friends and family know about all of the fantastic items to be bid on at the fabulous TNT Silent Auction.

So just let me know how you are doing with it. And if there is anything else you need from me, let me know. I will be out of town for a couple of days, and will not be at training this Saturday. As always, let the coaches know if you won’t be there.

I want to close with a mission moment. It is a bit long but will only take you a few minutes to read. It is a reminder of why we do this, and that as hard as it can be at times to train for a marathon, others can have it far tougher. This is written by a man named Ted, who is a survivor and a TNT participant. Unlike me, he has had numerous ongoing and lasting side effects from his chemotherapy experience. As I read this, it reminds me that we are not only searching for cures; we are searching for humane cures that don’t ruin the health of cancer victims. It also reminds me, once again, how fortunate I was and am to get through chemo with no apparent lasting effects, at least so far.

Ted’s words: “I am a poster boy for side effects. I have severe peripheral neuropathy in my feet. It makes walking painful. Walking downhill is excruciating. Since my toes are numb mostly, I have very poor balance and have to be very careful while training. Other side effects I have experienced are loss of teeth, no impact to training, but it is a good way to lose weight. Loss of weight might have a positive impact on my riding. I thought I had thyroid failure a couple of weeks ago, but now they think it might be adrenal failure, which is a common side effect also. This potentially fatal condition prevented me from training for the Lavaman Tri, may have caused a severe drug reaction a couple of months ago and may keep me from working for a while. I have orthostatic hypotension, and that limits my exertion levels, and I have to be very careful when I stop. I have had a bike accident caused by a narcotic I was taking. This was more than 8 hours after taking the medicine.”

I lost a great deal of weight from the chemo, most of it muscle mass, and that has had a tremendous effect on my training. I am usually the slowest weakest person on the team now. One of the problems with side effects is that everyone gets different ones, even if the treatment is identical. I know that my doctors are watching for all sorts of things I don't know about, and they are very responsive if I have a problem. All that being said, in spite of all the side effects, I have and will continue to do TNT events. My life is enriched by participating in them, and by the friendships I have formed. I feel like I am one of the happiest people around, and I am truly blessed in my life by all sorts of wonderful things. Side effects represent a challenge to me. Some times I get tired and depressed, but normally I look toward all the blessings and I am so thankful. The primary blessing is to still be alive with my wonderful family, planning for the future in spite of all that has or might happen.”

I hope everyone has a great New Years and comes out in 2009 ready to kick some butt with fund-raising and training!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Mix of Weather and Training

I had three days off from work for Christmas, and decided to take advantage of this to train during the day for a change. I also experimented with different combinations of running and walking, and kept track of the times to see how I would do with each combination.

On the 24th, I did one of my stand-by local 4 milers. I go through my neighborhood into the next one over, and through that neighborhood. Then I go along a short path through some woods, out across a road, and then 0.4 miles along a dirt trail through a park. I come out behind a school, and go past the baseball field and tennis courts, coming out by a track. I do a lap around the track, then go past basketball courts, and down a short path back to the nearby neighborhood, returning home the way I came. It comes out to 4.06 miles. The weather on Wednesday was mild (low 50’s) and cloudy, so I wore shorts and two layers on top. I ran 5 minutes and walked 5 minutes, repeating this cycle for the whole time. It took me 49 minutes, or about 12.1 minutes per mile. So since my walking pace is just under 14 minutes a mile, my running pace would have been about 10 minutes to the mile.

On Christmas, it was sunny and mid 60’s, so I did the workout in shorts and a tee shirt, which seems incredible for this time of year. This time I walked it entirely, both to rest my legs a bit and to see what the time difference would be to do the exact same route. It took 56 minutes, which would come out just a shade under 14 minutes a mile. While going around the track, I wanted to see if the pedometer registered 0.25 miles – it did – and it took me 3 minutes and 20 seconds to walk around the track, which translates to a 13.33 minute mile. So clearly at other times, I was walking a little slower.

Yesterday, I decided to do the eight miles by myself that I was scheduled to do today with the team, as I was heading out of town today. So I did laps in Deep Run Park, which has a nice nearly 2 mile trail through the woods, with a good bit of elevation gain and loss at times. By adding a couple of spurs, I can make the laps come out to 2 miles, so I did 4 laps. It was much cooler – mid-40’s – and a steady rain at times. I wore long pants, two layers on top, and a vest, and alternated between feeling too cool and too warm. I didn’t have a lot of manual dexterity at the end of the workout, as my hands were cold. I would run for 5 minutes and walk for 10, and I completed the 8 miles in 1 hour and 43 minutes, which comes out to 12.9 minutes per mile. I was soaked and chilled at the end.

The running seems to bother my back, and I have been applying ice when I can since then. I also get winded running after about 4 or 5 minutes, especially during the uphills. When I run with the team, I must be running slower because I can run 15 or 20 minutes and not get winded. But it was good to do the workouts under controlled conditions. I have learned that if I walk all the way with no running, I will come out to about a 14 minute mile. If I run 1/3 and walk 2/3, I am at about 13 minutes a mile, and if I walk 50% and run 50%, then I am at about a 12 minute mile. This is all good information to have when planning my race.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas, the seventh I have now seen since surviving, lymphoma. I am so grateful for this. My Christmas wish is that people would somehow learn to get along and live in peace the world over, but this seems impossible. At least on this day, and this season, people tend to be a little nicer and a little more kind and thoughtful.

It is also Chanukah this week, and tonight is the fifth night of Chanukah. So for this day, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

Feliz Navidad!

Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo!

Joyeux Noel!

Froehliche Weihnachten!

Buone Feste Natalizie!

Meri Kirihimete!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Trimming Those Locks of Grey

Unlike my eye color (green), when I have to provide my hair color - for example on the DMV form - I really need multiple choices. My once brown hair got the first hint of grey in my early 30's, and the grey has steadily marched onward as the brown has slowly retreated.

Yesterday, I got a hair cut, and couldn't help but notice (yet again) how much of the hair hitting the wrap was grey. Not all of it, but most of it. Plus I have a thinning area on the very top. I told the barber "why don't you cut some of the hair out of my ears and glue it to the top?" Ear hair - one more sign that God has a healthy sense of humor!

But at least I have hair, grey or not. It all reminded me of six years ago, in 2002, when most of my hair was gone from chemo. When I got the chemo, I knew hair loss would be one of the side effects, and as it turned out, it was one of the least burdonsome side effects. But I thought "Well, at least I will lose this damned ear hair for a while." Alas, it was not to be! Here is part of a note that I wrote friends and family in June of that year, as my hair was starting to drop in the third week of chemo:

"Today I feel well enough thanks to the anti-nausea drugs to go out for another hair cut. My hair is falling like the leaves early in Autumn - every time I shower or run my fingers through it I come away with dozens of hairs. When I wake up, it is all over the pillow. So, now that it has grown about an inch long, I am going back for a real short buzz, as short as they can get it. Of course the hair growing out of my ears does not seem to be affected in the least by chemotherapy - I was really hoping that wouldn't fall out, anyway!!! ;-) Yeah, right! Go figure!"

My friend Holly wrote back and said, in part, "Hey, I'm so glad for you that you aren't losing your ear hair! Now, that would be a REAL disaster."

My reply to Holly included the following: "Yeah, this stuff is an adventure. Not the most pleasant thing in the world, but also a very far cry from the least pleasant. I plan on using it to grow and I will be a better and stronger person once I survive it all. I do think that losing my ear hair would have been too much to bear though - I would have been a broken man, sobbing uncontrollably in the corner. You can only take so much, you know."

Fortunately, I never did lose that ear hair, even during six months of chemo, and not in the six years since. So whenever I look in the mirror and see a healthy growth of it, I try to smile and remember how tough that ear hair is. Just like me, it survived chemotherapy!

So for now, as my hair slowly moves towards the day when one choice on the DMV form will be enough, I will just try to be glad I still have some - on my head and in my ears!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mentoring e-Mail # 7

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah, Team!

It is I, your Artful Mentor, with another Tuesday night message. You are staring at your email and you are thinking “What is with this guy? Is his middle name Scrooge? Does he not know that Christmas is this week? Why does my Artful Mentor not give us a little Christmas break?"

Relax! Calm down! Chill! This is one Artful Mentor who is not going to say “Bah, Humbug!” or be opposed to charitable giving or enjoying the holidays. I am just writing to give you holiday greetings, thank you for all you have done so far for LLS and TNT, and just give a few reminders. Your mission this week is to relax, enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and give yourself a little fund-raising break. Now of course, if you are a little behind with fundraising and need to do a thing to two this week, then go for it! You know better than anyone else where you are with things and whether there is something you need to do. But if you can, relax a little and have fun!

A few reminders and points:

* Silent Auction is January 21. Send Jen an evite response whether you are coming or not. This part of my blog has details:

* Congratulations to Team Richmond’s first Virginia Rock Star, Lexi! She has raised more than $1,000 over her minimum! Go, Lexi, go!

* If you are not going to make training this Saturday or next, please let the coaches know: Vicki, Chuck, Kristi, Kathy. I will be there Saturday but not next week. This Saturday we will celebrate Nicki’s birthday. Happy birthday Nicki, and many, many happy returns!

* I am in town for the next week, and if you need help with fundraising, have questions, want to bounce something off me – please let me know!. You are not imposing. I want each of you to be successful at this. I want each of you to say “this is the greatest thing I have ever done, and I can’t wait to do it again.” If there is anything that I, Jen, or Mentor Captain Nicki can do, you just need to let us know. I would much rather know you are having a problem early while there is time to do something about it than when it is too late. Don’t be shy! You have a mentor assigned to you to help you when you need it!

* Relax, enjoy, catch your second breath and come back in a couple of weeks prepared to hit fund-raising hard. Recommitment for Shamrock is only 4 weeks away, so you need to make sure to get to that point if that is your race.

* I am going to extend my fundraising contest by a week to January 11 because of the holidays. Get those checks into Paycor. Don’t hold on to them! Hey, I need to follow that advice, too!

I hope to see most or all of you Saturday. But in any event, enjoy the Christmas break. Thanks again for making a difference with Team in Training. We have a great team. Call or email if you need help! That is what I am here for.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jingling in Monumental Fashion

Training was a lot of fun today, as it usually is. First, it was a lot warmer than the last couple of weeks - abut 20 degrees warmer. Second, we cut our miles back a bit to five miles. Third, much of the team went to breakfast afterwards - I had guilt-free flapjacks. And fourth, Christmas coming next week, we all wore a large jingle bell, making a festive sound as we ran and jingled along. The route was a nice one, including much of Monument Avenue, home to the wonderful Monument Avenue Ukrops 10K race each spring.

What a great looking team, all wearing our jingle bells!

Lexi, our first Virginia Rock Star, was awarded the coveted star for exceeding her fund-raising minimum by at least $1,000! I am her mentor, and while I would love to say that she did it all because of my sage advice, that would be a bald-faced lie! Lexi hit rock star status without any help from me! Go Lexi! I am proud of you!!!

Some of the team in a walk mode. In front - Nicole. In back, from left - Kathy, Nancy, Theresa, Kristi.

Our route went through the "Fan", then up Lombardy to Monument Avenue, then back to the west along Monument. It is a very beautiful street, especially in spring time. Here is a monument to Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, guarding the approaches to inner Richmond.

General Robert E. Lee is immortalized in bronze atop his famous steed, Traveler.

Theresa and Nicole during a walk phase of our walk - run training.

Monument to Mathew Fontaine Maury, "The Pathfinder of the Seas". This is my favorite monument, mainly because of the globe at the top.

The globe is very dramatic and includes many images of people and animals caught in ship wrecks. Maury's work made navigation across oceans safer.

Images of people caught in a shipwreck. The work for this monument back in the 1930's was very controversial in conservative Richmond. The artist sketched nude models and fully clothed models soaked to the skin to get the images right.

Monument to tennis great and Richmond native, Arthur Ashe. Growing up in Richmond under segregation laws, he was not allowed to play tennis at the public courts because of his race. Today, a statue to him stands on Richmond's most famous street.

View along Roseneath Street on the way back to Byrd Park - only about a mile or so to go.

Back at the park, I ran into three teammates from my very first season with Team in Training. They had gathered there for a Saturday morning walk together, as they often do. It was great to see them. From left: Betty, Liz, Art, Beverly. Betty and Liz coach and mentor for some of our TNT seasons, and Beverly was my first mentor.

At the restaurant where some of the team gathered for breakfast after training, Jen and Amber model a little extra Ho-Ho-Ho with little Santas and reindeer on their hats. Jen and Amber work for LLS, but often give of their own time on Saturdays to come out and train with the team. Both of them have done races for Team and Training and raised money in the process.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Combining Exercise with Fundraising

I am tired tonight! My day started about 5AM when I went out and ran and walked 2 miles. Why only two miles? Because I had a hint that I would be doing some more miles later in the day.

We are doing a team silent auction next month, and I have been too busy to try to collect items. Today, I decided it was time to get my sorry butt in gear and collect some items. After all, a silent auction with nothing to bid on is a pretty poor excuse for an auction, wouldn’t you say?

So I took a little time off from work this afternoon, and walked all over downtown Richmond. I wore my trusty pedometer, and ended up walking nearly five miles to solicit things. I got some nice donations: several great restaurant gift certificates, two tickets for up to four each at the Richmond Symphony, and a night at a nice downtown hotel, the Omni. Plus I left letters with at least 10 places for their consideration. I have a few more places to try as well, so will be walking about tomorrow also, but maybe not quite as far.

One business owner, after hearing me tell him what I was doing, said “Why not? At least you came in here in person – most people asking for things just call on the phone.” He was impressed when I told him that I had walked 4.5 miles by that point trying to roust up some nice items for people to bid on.

So, all in all, it was a good Team in Training day. I got some nice items from generous businesses that I can hopefully turn into cash in the battle against blood cancers. And I got some fresh air and exercise. All in all, for the entire day, I walked over 18,000 steps, which is about 10 miles. So I am going to go have a piece of apple pie – I think I have earned it today!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Fundraising Milestone

This week, I have crossed my first fundraising milestone for my 2009 Team in Training Campaign. I have raised over $3,600, which is the minimum amount necessary to compete in my event. Counting a few checks that I have just received, I am at about $3,696.

When I do a marathon, I always have a number of goals. For example, last year my goal was to finish in 5:55:55 or less, in honor of five years in remission from cancer. That was my “A” goal. But I had a “B” goal – to set a PR (personal record), which would have been to do better than about a 6:14. Now if I got out there and things were not going my way at all, I also had a “C” goal – to finish the race, whether I walked, ran, or crawled across the line (or was dragged over the finish line by someone else, shot out of a cannon, etc.).

It is the same way with my fundraising goal, a marathon of sorts by itself. My “C” goal is to raise the minimum amount required by LLS to participate in the Country Music Marathon. That is the absolute bottom line, what I must achieve, and it feels good to be past that milestone with four months of fundraising still ahead.

I don’t know if I can attain my “A” goal of $14,645 this year. The economy is pretty awful and bad news triggers panic even among folks who are doing OK. People have been generous – there is no way to even reach my minimum goal without a lot of generous people - but it has been tougher than usual. In order to hit my “A” goal, I am going to have to leave my comfort zone for fundraising and try some new things. What things? I have no idea right now, but I am thinking about it a lot.

Now if I only had a Senate Seat that I could fill ….

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mentoring e-Mail # 6

Hello, my Great, Gregarious Group of FUNdraisers,

‘Tis your Artful Mentor once more, with another Tuesday message. You are groaning and wondering “Why, oh why, couldn’t I have been assigned a laconic, relatively sane mentor?” I don’t have the answer to that, but perhaps it is to make you better at enduring being around whacky people. I’m sure that there is a reason, even if we can’t figure it out. Certainly, all will be revealed in time.

But fear not this week – I don’t have a ton of things to harangue you about, just a few reminders:

* Silent Auction – remember, you should be collecting things for this. I need to follow that same advice! Respond to Jen’s e-vite if you have not done so already. That date and location again? January 21st, 6PM, Big Al’s on Cox Road. It should be fun and hopefully good fund raising.

* Team Breakfast – following training this Saturday, at Baker’s Crust in Carytown. I have prior plans and so will not be at breakfast.

* If you cannot make training, please let Coach Chuck or Coach Kristi know. I learned last night that Vicki’s dad just died and so she will be away.

* My Fund Raising Contest – who is going to win? What amazing prize awaits? Keep plugging away, as the time is about 50% done – my little contest ends January 4. As a rule of thumb, you want to be close to 20% of your minimum right now. If you have any concerns or questions, need to chat, need to brainstorm, need to meet one on one, please contact me. It will be tight with the holidays ahead but just let me know and we will work together.

* Are you a good gift wrapper? If so, maybe it is not too late to contact a book store and see if you can get a night to wrap there for donations. I am so poor at wrapping gifts that stores pay me not to wrap gifts there, so I have never attempted this myself.

I went running in shorts and a tee last night and it felt great after Saturday’s gloves, long underwear, hat, and three layers on top. I hope that you are getting in some good training as well. Tonight, with this cold, miserable rain, I am just as happy not being outdoors running along.

I was recently thinking about my goals, with fundraising and with training, trying to evaluate where I was with things this season. When doing TNT, we are trying to accomplish two difficult things simultaneously – to raise thousands of dollars for a great cause and to train for and complete an endurance event. We really do set our sights high with TNT, and I came across this quote that expresses it pretty well:

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
Arnold Toynbee (1889 - 1975)

Give a little thought to your goals and how you plan to achieve them. What steps do you need to accomplish to get there, and when will you take these steps? Set your goals high, and maybe at the end you will not only hit your minimum but be a Virginia Rock Star!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seven Miles with the Team

Yesterday, we had our team training once more, as we do every Saturday morning. It was another cold start to the day, the temperatures being in the low 20’s at the start. It was one of those days where you will be too hot, too cold, or both simultaneously – kind of like if your feet are in the oven and your head in the refrigerator, on average you will be quite comfortable.

I really like this team, but of course, I have really liked every team that I have trained with. I go back a ways with several people on the team. Coach Vicki was the run coach on two of my prior teams. Coach Chuck was my roommate in Arizona, and waited for me at the finish line after he ran his marathon. Theresa is my mentor, and we trained on the winter team together last year. Coach Kristi, the walk coach, is also a Hodgkin lymphoma survivor, and we have trained together in the past. Nicki and I were on the 2006 San Diego marathon team together, and Paul trained for Disney last year while I trained for Arizona with the winter team.

We did four to seven miles as a group. I was in the seven mile group, which is probably about as far as I have run and walked since the Arizona Marathon, other than a hike or two. I am still trying to decide between running and walking, so again did a mix of the two. The walk team is very small, the run team is good size, and I seem to be the only one combining the two. So for the running part, I was usually running with some of the group. For the walking part I was by myself for the most part. I am approximating that I ran about 4 miles and walked about 3. The route was enjoyable - through Byrd Park, up past the Carillion, along Douglasdale towards the University of Richmond Stadium, and then through Windsor Farms, one of Richmond's loveliest neighborhoods. We ended up heading up Locke to Grove, and the along Grove a few blocks past "The Wall" as we call it.

It was a very good workout, and I have some soreness today from the running part. So I took it easy today. Tomorrow is soon enough for another workout.

After training, we had our nutrition and stretching clinic, which is always good information.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Limericks about Governor Blagojevich

It has been a long time since I have been inspired to attempt some limericks. I made it through the entire Obama - McCain campain without writing any, which I can hardly believe. But the corrupt antics of Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois have left me no choice. I mean, what can you say about a guy that follows his predecessor's, George Ryan's, corrupt ways in putting state government up for sale? And to top it all off - to try to sell a US Senator's seat to the highest bidder!

Now that I think about it, the last time I wrote limericks, it was also because of a governor -Elliot Spitzer of New York. Despite having several teen age daughters (and a wife) he was caught cavorting with a prostitute barely older than his daughters. But Ryan and Blagojevich are even sleazier.

Ryan is now reflecting on his administration from prison, although I hear he is trying to get a pardon from President Bush. If that doens't work out, maybe Ryan and Blagojevich can be cell mates.

So here is a little break from training, fundraising, and cancer (other than the cancer of political corruption).

In the Midwestern Land of Abe Lincoln
There is something so rotten it’s stinkin’
Two govs in a row
Off to prison will go
Cause to get rich was all they were thinkin’

A Governor, name of Blagojevich
Through corruption had hoped to get rich
But his words caught on tape
Leave little hope of escape
From a major mid-life career switch.

In a reeking state government drama
Up for sale went the seat of Obama
While talking some trash
Rodney B. asked for cash
Pray tell, what would say his poor Mama?

Said Rod “Who’ll the next senator be?
Give a huge wad of cash right to me.
If I may be so bold
This thing’s made of gold
Did you think that you’d get it for free?”

With a tone that was quite like the mob
He demanded some loot or a job
For a Senator’s seat
In speech far from discrete
And many an F-Bomb he’d lob

Said George Ryan let me give you advice
Now that Govs will be locked up here twice
Please don’t be a dope
Never pick up the soap
Cause the folks you meet here are not nice

Governors stand on top of the heap
But Rod’s tastes and his wife’s were not cheap
If he goes to the Pen,
Is not heard from again,
I much doubt that folks will give a (bleep).

Art Ritter
December 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gimme Five, Plus One More!

Today marks my six year anniversary date of officially being in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma! Last year, my five year mark, is the really big one, but actually, once you hit five years, you just want to keep going. My odds were pretty good – about 80% of surviving at least five years with stage 3 HL. I celebrated that milestone with a little get-together with my teammates after training with bagels and purple and green balloons, all organized by Coach Michal. Plus I really looked on participating in the Arizona Marathon about a month later as the true celebration.

This year is more laid back. My cold is over and I celebrated by feeling well enough to go out and run / walk 4 miles in the pre-dawn darkness. Although sleeping in always feels good (see my poem “Relentless”), I am so blessed and fortunate to be alive and healthy enough to do this. Then at lunch, I took a quick 2.5 mile walk down to Belle Isle and back. It feels great to start being active again after 3 weeks with a cold and one week on the road before that.

It is easy to take this health and level of physical fitness for granted, and I work very hard not to do so. Lots of people, never mind people coming up on so called “old age” in a few years, cannot dream of walking or running even five miles, much less a marathon – even if they have never had cancer.

I learned something pretty neat today – in 2012 on December 9, the 10th anniversary of my remission from cancer, the Honolulu Marathon will be held. How amazing would it be to still be healthy and fit enough to walk or run this, and what a great way that would be to celebrate 10 years remission! Plus I have never been to Hawaii. Now I know that is putting the cart before the horse and is assuming a lot of things, but it gives me something to think about and set my sights on for 4 years from now.

For now, I had better just concentrate on getting conditioned enough for Nashville and feel grateful for the six year remission mark. None of this was guaranteed, not by a long shot. I am very lucky and happy to still be on this amazing earth.

Mentoring e-Mail # 5

This was my fifth note to my spring season mentees:

Hello, my Fantastic, Fun-loving Fundraisers!

It is I, your Artful Mentor, once again with my weekly message. Perhaps you are thinking “Oh no, it is Tuesday and I dare not check my email, I may be getting yet one more whacky message from my Artful Mentor.” Well, if you are thinking along those lines, I do not blame you, but it is too late. You are already reading this email and thinking “I KNEW I shouldn’t check email tonight!” Shows to trust your instincts, doesn’t it?

But I will be merciful and keep this short. It essentially will just be a few reminders and a couple of other things.

* I know you are thinking “why don’t I have a mentor that sends me useful documents that I can actually use?” You are in luck, for you do indeed have that kind of mentor, at least for this week. Of course, this is only because I have that type of mentor, Theresa. She sent me a great FUNdraising FAQ, and it was far better than anything I could have come up with, so of course I had to share it with you, with Theresa’s permission.

* Remember that after training this Saturday at Byrd Park, we will have our stretching and injury prevention clinic. If you can only make one clinic, make it this one. I can tell you first hand that training for a marathon, full or half, puts stress on so many parts of your body, and you want to know how to treat yourself right and stay healthy and pain-free.

* Team breakfast a week from Saturday after training (December 20).

* Are you collecting items for the Silent Auction, and have you replied to Jen’s e-vite? It is Wednesday night, January 21st at Big Als. The attached FAQ gives some really good ideas on collecting items, tips from Theresa, the Silent Auction Goddess. People still whisper with subdued awe and wonderment about the amazing items that Theresa has collected for auctions past.

* How is everyone doing on fundraising? Recommitment for the Shamrock Marathon is January 23rd, and you must have at least 25% ($475) of your minimum raised by then. But I know you can do better than 25%!

I will give you a brief mission moment for this week, from my own experience. Today marks six years in remission from cancer for me. I am alive today largely because 20 or 30 years ago, medical researchers figured out how to solve Hodgkin Lymphoma 80-90% of the time. I give thanks for being so lucky nearly every day. If it had turned out differently for me, not only would I have missed out on a lot of living over the past six years, but even worse, you would not be getting this email right now. Now THAT would be a tragedy!!! By what you are doing with Team in Training, others in the near and longer term future will have their chances of survival enhanced. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

My quote this week is from me, with some thanks to Sarah Palin (or her speechwriter) for the idea:

“The difference between a cancer patient and a pit bull? Chemo!” Art Ritter, Lymphoma Survivor, TNT Marathoner, and your Artful Mentor. 1951 - ???? :)


Monday, December 8, 2008

Welcome, Canadian Visitors!

I noticed that my blog had a couple of visitors from Canada. I wanted to make you aware of something I wrote earlier this year about the kindness of several Canadian participants at the Arizona Marathon last November. I have called this "O, Canada!".

Whether you visit from the good ole USA or from our great neighbor to the north, or from other parts of our amazing world, welcome to my blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Friends' Amazing 50 Mile Race

One of the truly great things one experiences through doing Team in Training is the amazing people that you meet and become friends with. Two of these for me are Holly and Amanda, who I met in 2005 training for my first event. I was doing the Anchorage Marathon and they were doing the San Diego Marathon. These two friends were so close and always together, so we just referred to them as "HollyandAmanda". You never saw one without the other. Still don't!

Holly is the mom of one of my patient honorees, Emma, who developed leukemia as a 10 week old. That is a separate, but also an amazing, story but the bottom line is that Emma is now an 8 year old!

A little while ago, I got an email from Holly about a simply amazing thing that she and Amanda had done - the JFK 50 miler. This distance is nearly 2 marathons, all in one day, and part of it along the Appalacian Trail. With Holly's permission, I have posted her account here.

Warning - reading this account is likely to cause a feeling of being inspired and amazed, and could result in a few tears. I am grateful to know people like "HollyandAmanda".

Continue to Holly's pre-race write-up.

Holly and Amanda's Amazing Race - Pre-Race

This is written by Holly about preparation for her and Amanda's 50 mile race.

November 22, 2008…this day might mean nothing to some, to others it might be a birthday or the day selected to begin the Thanksgiving holiday. Some might recognize it as the 45th anniversary of the tragic passing of President John F. Kennedy. For me, this day will always be remembered as the day I completed the "46th Annual John F. Kennedy 50 Mile".

A Little History…the JFK 50-Miler was first held in 1963 as a part of the nation answering Kennedy's "call to fitness". Most of the numerous JFK 50 Mile Challenge events staged around the country in 1963 were never held again. The one in Washington County, Maryland has continued for 46 consecutive years, making it the last surviving original "JFK 50 Mile Challenge" event.

Amanda & I had begun contemplating the JFK 50-miler the day after completing the HAT 50k (31 miles) in March. We did some research, came up with a training plan & mailed in our registration.

To be an official finisher of the JFK 50-miler you not only have to complete all 50.2 miles, but you have to pass through numerous check points along the way, completing each section in under the time cut-offs set by the race director. You must be across the finish line by 7:00 pm. This gives you 12 hours if you start at 7:00 am OR 14 hours if you are accepted into the 5:00 am start. Amanda & I were part of the lucky 250 to be accepted into the early start.

We knew that if we had any chance of completing this race we would need all the time we could get. This meant we needed the early start. We also knew we would need a support crew to be at the aid stations with our gear, offering up snacks, drinks & most importantly – words of encouragement. I asked my mom & she immediately agreed. It was official, Amanda & I were registered & we had our own crew!

Training…training was long & hard, but it was going well & we were feeling pretty confident. Enter the injuries…I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot & had months of massage therapy & a couple of cortisone shots. Pain turned to discomfort & the discomfort lingered. Next up, osteoarthritis in my right knee. For that the doctor gave me a prescription & informed me that 50 miles would hurt like hell.

The pain & discomfort combined with the feelings of exhaustion & being burned out. I found myself trying to convince Amanda to scrap the race all together. I won't lie, I was not very happy when Amanda told me she was going to run it with or without me. I begrudgingly agreed to run it with her (after all she is already 1 marathon up on me…I couldn't have her 1 ultra up too!).

Knowing myself, I knew that I would be devastated if I failed at this attempt. Nothing less then 50.2 miles & a medal would make the day worthwhile. I knew for us to be successful we would need to be positive & focused on the goal. I learned in my yoga training about the yoga sutras. Two in particular struck a chord with me….

1.30: Carelessness, dullness, doubt, laziness, false perception, failure to reach firm ground & slipping from the ground gained are the obstacles/distractions of the mind.

We all have strength but we don't seem to know it. We need to be challenged & tested to understand our own capacities.

1:32: The practice of concentration on a single subject is the best way to prevent obstacles.

Decide on one thing & stick to it – whatever happens.

So, I typed it up, printed it out, posted it & repeated it.

The details that follow are about as accurate as I can remember…keep in mind, it was a long day! The text in blue was written by my mom & serves as the perspective of the person not running 50.2 miles, but being out there for just as long serving as the support crew.

Continue to Part 1 of Holly and Amanda's 50 Miler

Holly and Amanda's Amazing Race - Part 1

Note from Art - this is the part 1 about my friends Holly and Amanda and their participation in the JFK 50 miler. Holly's text is in black, her mother's in blue.

Race day…the day begins with the buzzing of our alarms…it is 3 AM. To our surprise, we are wide-awake & ready to begin. We dress & pack & by 3:45 we are on our way to the start. In about 30 minutes my mom & Emma are dropping us off in the Boonsboro High School parking lot. A few hundred of us gather in the gymnasium to hear our final instructions. By 4:35 we are all walking into downtown Boonsboro to the starting area (a distance of about 1,000 meters & no it does not count towards the 50.2 miles!). The temperature on the clock of a local bank reads 16°F…it is cold & snowing lightly.

3 AM - alarm clock and wake up call sounds. Drag myself and Emma out of bed, bundle up for the biting cold. Experiencing either a heart attack or severe anxiety from the pressure of crewing for Holly and Amanda at the JFK 50-miler. The pressure of knowing that Holly and Amanda were depending on me to be at the prearranged spot at the approximately prearranged time (so that they could swap gear and whatever else they needed, words of encouragement, kiss on the cheek) was immense. We drove to the Boonesborostart point. Dropped off Holly and Amanda with tears in my eyes, they walked toward the school and I wished I'd taken a photo of them at the start of the race. Drove myself and Emma back to the hotel to shower and change clothes.

5:00 AM…headlamps on & the race begins! The first 2.5 miles are on a paved road that climbs up about 500 feet to meet the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) The next 13 miles basically follow the rolling & sometimes very rocky section of the North-South footpath. At about mile 14.5 the course gets dangerous as we go down a series of very steep switchbacks. This was the course description…our race day perceptions…the first 5 miles are pretty much up hill. This makes us nervous, knowing that what goes up must come down! The pack walks the up hills & runs the flats & down hills. Amanda & I decide we are sheep & follow suit (after all this is our first time!). For all the pre-race worries this portion of the course caused us, it really isn't as bad as we imagined. By the time we reach the really rocky portion of the trail, the sun is coming up & we can see. To my surprise, I find this part of the course to be wonderful. It is peaceful & lovely. We watch the sunrise from the A.T. overlooking Boonsboro, Maryland. It is a breathtaking sight.

By 6:30 AM we were back on the road driving to the Weaverton Cliffs 15.7 mile stop point.

7:00 AM…two hours after our start, the rest of the pack begins. By 8:30 the leaders are passing us on the trail. So as we are maneuvering our way over & around rocks & slipping on leaves, we are also jumping out of the way for the "fast pack", knowing that one of these guys will win this race. We shout out words of encouragement to them & they return the kind words. It is awesome to see these guys running so fast down these steep & dangerous trails.

Around 9:30, after 15.5 miles we are thrilled to get off the A.T.! The crowd is thick & so supportive. We easily find my mom & Emma, who had been there for hours. We get hugs, change socks & shoes, drop off our night gear, grab a drink, get more hugs & are off running again. Before starting our journey on the C&O Canal Towpath we happily have some snacks & drinks at a fully stocked aid station. These aid stations, along with our support crew, will be our lifelines on this long journey.

The Weaverton Cliffs stop was beautiful, it was that the Appalachian Trail drops off from the mountain onto another narrow pathway. We got there early as I was worried about finding a parking place. After about 1 hour of my arriving there was no place to park and people were blocking in other cars. Emma and I set up our spot, two chairs, two sets of changing gear bags and a bag of medical gear, water and snacks. Oh, plus two big fuzzy blankets because it was about 20 degrees! I was getting more and more nervous as time went by and when I finally spotted Holly and Amanda both Emma and I cheered with glee! They both changed their socks and shoes, grabbed a few gulps of Gator Ade and off they went. See you at the Antietam Aqueduct! We all yelled.

The next 26.3 miles are almost totally flat, unpaved dirt surface, free from all automobile traffic. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal construction began July 4, 1828 in Washington D.C. I wish I could say that I will use my time here to think about the history, however, I will not. The C&O portion is so long (a full marathon in itself) & it all looks the same. It looses its appeal & soon becomes boring. We both need to hear the sutra…"Aches & pains are just distractions of the mind…focus on the goal…we will complete the JFK 50-miler today…we will get our medal. This is a test of our physical & mental strength…we are strong." It helps. As we run by Harpers Ferry I briefly reminisce about a trip made about 10 years earlier. I was in such bad shape I was unable to hike 100-yards up the mountain (technically a hill). I take some pleasure in how much things have changed!

About 12:30, coming upon mile 27.1, we are running across the historic Antiietam Aqueduct, a triple-arch stone aqueduct built in 1833 to carry the C&O canal over Antietam Creek. Amanda's foot catches the stone & she falls off the aqueduct into the dry canal bed below…a fall of about 5-6 feet. As soon as I realize what has happened, two other people have already gotten to her. She is face down & her arm seems to be twisted oddly beneath her. I am certain it is broken. She gets up teary & shaken. Cut, bruised & swollen, she continues moving forward. Shortly thereafter we find my mom & Emma who gives extra hugs. Emma is having a great time, jumping in leaves, collecting nuts & playing with new friends. We change socks (& shoes again for me), have a bite to eat & move along. Again, we both need to hear the sutra…"Aches & pains are just distractions of the mind…focus on the goal…we will complete the JFK 50-miler today…we will get our medal. This is a test of our physical & mental strength…we are strong."

Emma and I navigated the narrow, windy country roads ( swear most of them were only wide enough for one car to get through) and found our way to the next stop point, a beautiful spot along the C&O Canal. It was extremely hard to navigate the road and read the map to see which way to go at the same time. All the while Emma sat in the back seat watching a DVD, oblivious to my anxiety attack. I was so worried that we wouldn't get there in time to meet them. Mile 27.1 We got to Antietam Aqueduct about 3 hours before we expected Holly and Amanda to arrive, but I was so worried about missing them that we gathered up all the gear, 2 chairs, 2 bags of changing gear, a bag of medical gear, water and snacks; PLUS two big fuzzy blankets for the cold, and trudged up and down a hill till we got to the canal path. Emma quickly made some friends and set out collecting a huge pile of horse apples, grapefruit-sized lumpy green balls. My feet were frozen and my hands as well. I was bundled up in a big cow blanket and cheered on the other runners. About 1/2 hour before the cut off point I spotted Holly and Amanda. This time Amanda had an injury and I learned that she'd fallen. I thought for sure she'd broken her wrist. Again, with tears in my eyes I hugged them both, gave them the gear they needed and sent them on their way. "You're doing great! Love you guys, see you at the next stop!" gathered up our bags and chairs and trudged up and down the hill again, fell on the up hill and had a park ranger help me up. I told myself that they had just finished one marathonand were now at the start of a second.

Continue to part 2 of the race report

Holly and Amanda's Amazing Race - Part 2

Note from Art - this is the part 2 about my friends Holly and Amanda and their participation in the JFK 50 miler. Holly's text is in black, her mother's in blue.

The next checkpoint will be mile 34.4 & we have to be past it by 2:45. We worried about this one, but thankfully we breeze in & out with time to spare. Next up, mile 38.4 by 4:00. This station is known as the 38-special. Here they serve up extra goodies like potatoes, soup & Mt. Dew. There are so many spectators cheering, it is a great stop. It helps that we continue to pass through with time to spare. About half a mile down the trail we find my mom. She is so happy to see us. She proclaims us her heroes (or maybe superheroes we decide a little later) & gives us more hugs. This portion of the trail has no protection from the wind, which is gusting. It is freezing! Mom is bundled up in a blanket & Emma sits in the warm car watching movies. At the sight of us, Emma is out of the car to give big hugs. At this point we pick up our headlamps as we will not being seeing mom & Emma again until the finish…

Mondell, Mile 38. 38! Another spot along the C&O canal. This was a fun spot as there were several bicyclers with radios and CD players playing loud up-beat music. Emma stayed in the warm car and watched another DVD. I was able to park right where I was waiting and could keep an eye on her andwatch for my team at the same time. Again, 1/2 hour before cut off there they were. Exchanged gear, gave my girls their head lamps and off they went, spirits high. They looked in great shape.

It is this point where we really start to focus on getting off the C&O. At Dam #4, 41.8 miles & about 4:30, we reach the checkpoint/aid station, pick up our reflective vests, do a little dance, and sing a little song & happily wave goodbye to the C&O!

Mile 50, finish line. We arrived at the finish line with about 3 hours till quitting time. Gathered up our gear and headed to the school cafeteria where we waiting until about 1 hour prior to 7 PM. We went outside, cheered on the runners as they came across the finish line. We were surprised to hear that two runners were 80 years old! Most of the runners seemed to be between 35-55 years old.

Our celebration does not last long. Up until this point, the course has had no mile markers except at aid stations. It is here on these back country roads, with 8 miles to go, they start to count down. While we celebrate each one, it grows harder & harder to do anything. The sun has set. The already cold temperatures have dropped. Our bodies are struggling to regulate our body temperatures & we are freezing. Our conversations grow thin. We walk. When someone runs past we are amazed…they usually stop to walk shortly thereafter. We run & we walk. Our runs are more likely to be described as a shuffle, but it is all that we can pull out. We walk faster then we have ever walked during training. It hurts to walk, so we run. After a few minutes it hurts to run so we walk. There are times when I don't think I can continue. I imagine how good it might feel to sit down…probably cold…I keep moving forward. I tell myself "Aches & pains are just distractions of the mind…focus on the goal…we will complete the JFK 50-miler today…we will get our medal. This is a test of our physical & mental strength…we are strong."

At 6:25 PM Emma started worrying and crying "I know she's not going to make it". She was so upset. I didn't worry though, I knew that my team would make it on time. I searched the ridge on the horizon for their headlamps as by this time it was pitch dark. So many thoughts racing through my head, so many questions I had, how did they feel at the beginning, at mile point 15.7, how was the AT, how did they feel once they hit the pavement, was it easier, was it harder, when did they KNOW they would make it, and on and on.

I really expected this portion of the course to give me a second wind. It was after all paved roads & the last 8.4 miles. I was wrong! It is by far the hardest part & my lowest. Each checkpoint we manage to pass through with time to spare. We are cautiously optimistic. We are going to finish & get our medals! We wait & wait to see the sign, 2 miles to go. It's not coming & we are growing discouraged. FINALLY! 2 to go! The next aid station they tell us that the sign is in the wrong spot & we only have 1.5 miles to go. This is great to hear!

6:30.not yet. 6:35.not yet. 6:40.not yet. Now I was getting worried. The whole race they were 1/2 hour before cut off. What if they don't make it? What if they make it at 7:01? What if they got turned back at the previous check point? What if they got hurt? What if, what if, what if.

Next sign…1 mile to go! At this point we know…we will finish…we will collect our medals! The tears come & go as we are overcome with emotions. While I was confident in July when we registered, I was not confident in October. I had tried so hard to convince Amanda to call it quits. I almost succeeded. At this point, I am SO thankful that Amanda was not swayed by me, but instead she swayed me. All of our training…hours & hours…miles & miles…it has paid off.

6:44..THERE THEY ARE!!! EMMA, I SEE THEM!!! Cheers of joy, tears of joy, tears of love and pride. They made it! We made it.

The finish line is within our sights & we run. After all these hours, there they are…my mom & Emma…still cheering for us. After getting this far with their help & support, I stop & give hugs & my thanks. Then, together, Amanda & I cross the finish line…50.2 miles in 13 hours & 44 minutes. Tears stream as the medals are placed around our necks.

Love and pride for my Holly and Amanda, off we walked in the darkness, my two crazy runners, Emma and me, the four of us, to a nice warm car and a nice warm hotel for a nice warm night of sleep.

Continue to post race report

Holly and Amanda's Amazing Race - Post Race Report

Note from Art - this is the last of the sections about my friends Holly and Amanda and their participation in the JFK 50 miler. Holly's text is in black, her mother's in blue.

This was the most physically demanding challenge I have ever gone through & the most rewarding! We proceed into the school for a medical opinion on Amanda's wrist, pizza & a bathroom. The nurse suggests that Amanda hold off on a trip to the ER, that her wrist is probably not broken. We are happy to avoid a trip to the ER. It is a long walk to the car & a short drive to the hotel.

It is at the hotel where the pain would set in. My hot shower caused my cold skin to itch & I spent about 10 minutes crying & scratching. That passed & the chills set it. Even with the heat cranked up, I shivered. I laid under the covers & hurt everywhere. Never had I hurt like this before! Amanda & I insisted we would NEVER do this again. No desire to run another ultra. With our eyes closed, our head still seemed to move up & down as if we were still moving. The sleep was bad…it hurt to be still & it hurt to move.

Sunday morning, we are still sore, however, it was much better…it's soreness not pain! At breakfast we reflected on the prior day. We continued to reflect all the way home. Amanda & I told my mom "never again". She insisted that we will run it again within the next 2 years. While I'm not so sure, I'm also not so sure we won't!

In retrospect, I didn't need to have packed a ton of activities and books to occupy Emma's and my down-time. We raced from stop to stop like mad men, only to wait, but couldn't have done any crafts or anything, there were runners that needed cheering to, encouraging words to be passed. Next time I'll pack some electronic hand warmers, wear warm boots, pack hot tea or chicken soup for my team. Next time....I remember hearing them both say, just this once, we're only running this once. Yeah right.

This was unlike any other race I have completed. There was a camaraderie that I had never felt before. We all wanted the same thing, for ourselves & everyone else to finish & collect our medals. The fast people we not too full of their own personal goals to say "thank you" as we moved aside so they could pass, or to say "good job" or "keep it up". This is a race…an event, where strangers will stop for a walk & chat, wish you well & move along…spectators will be inspired by you & they'll be sure to tell you. You can be sure that after completing this race you will have inspired yourself!

A week has passed since I completed the JFK 50-miler. I can tell you that the soreness only lasted a few days & was no worse than my first marathon. Within 2 days I was back at yoga & biking. I ran the Turkey Trot 10k on Thanksgiving morning. I can tell you with certainty, I don't care to know how much further I can run…50.2 is good enough for me! I can also tell you that I will most certainly do this race again. I will do it for the fun & for the beauty. I will do it for the inspiration & to be reminded of my own mental & physical strength.

Next up for me…rest! Expect to hear from me again in 2009 when I will begin fundraising & training for the Augusta Half Ironman…70.3 miles…but I get to swim & bike some of them!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Training in Spider Land

Today, I felt well enough to try training with the team, starting at the beautiful University of Richmond campus - home of the Fighting Spiders. It was a cold morning for Virginia - 23 degrees at the end of training. Typical cold weather training once you get moving - your face feels raw, your hands are cold, but your torso is soaked in sweat.

It felt great to be outdoors moving along for five miles. I did a run walk combo, running the first mile and a half, and walking the rest except for two intervals of maybe 5 minutes each. My congestion is mostly gone, so breathing was easier. I have to get back into condition for longer distances, so it felt great to start that process and to feel pretty healthy again.

Here are some photos from today's training:
Doing a pre-training lap around the U of R track
Pre-training group stretch
This pretty building on campus is decked out for Christmas
James River from the Hugenaut Bridge
James River from the flat along Riverside Drive

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beyond Boobs

Don’t worry, this is not X-rated. Maybe PG at the most.

When my friend Mary Beth learned that she had breast cancer a few years ago at about age 40, she went through a lot – chemotherapy, double-mastectomy, and radiation. She could have adopted a negative, crappy attitude but far from it – not Mary Beth. Instead she stayed strong and positive, and resolved to make a difference. She formed a new organization, Beyond Boobs.

If you are interested in breast health, check out her web site and organization. Right now they are selling their wonderful and tastefully done 2009 calendar, which is really a breast health manual disguised as a calendar. This is very reasonably priced, helps to support what her non-profit organization does, and most importantly, contains a wealth of educational, inspirational, and just plain fun information. I encourage you to look into this amazing calendar, which is far more than just a calendar.

So who cares about breast health? Well, if you are a woman reading this, then I hope that you do. If you are a man, like the person writing this, should you care? After all, men only very rarely get breast cancer. Well, if you have a wife, sister, mother, girlfriend, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, daughter, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, grandmother, or female friend, then I submit that you, too, should care about breast health. In fact, you should also care about the way that women are treated, violence against women, exploitation of women, equal educational and economic opportunities world-wide for women, and so forth, but I digress.

Check out Mary Beth’s great organization, Beyond Boobs! And check out her “calendar to live by”. It would make a great Christmas gift. And it is a gift that could help save your life or the life of a woman that you love.

To see other posts in my blog related to breast cancer, search the breast cancer label.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finally, a Few Miles!

For the past couple of weeks, I start my day out by coughing for a couple of hours in the morning. This week, this has lessened to about an hour, then about half an hour. So I decided to try a few miles and see how it felt.

Yesterday, I walked 3 miles on my lunch break, about all I can do in my 45 minute break and still have a couple of minutes to wolf a sandwich and cool down a bit. I don’t feel as bad from my cold mid-day, and it was a sunny and cool day. I walked across the James River on the footbridge to Belle Isle, walked along the path by the Hollywood Rapids, and turned around at 1.5 miles. Even though I started out feeling cold from the windy day in the lower 40s, by about 2 miles or so I had to remove my fleece and walk in my short-sleeved shirt because the exercise was generating so much heat. It was a good workout in my old, battered running shoes that were not fit for training anymore about 8 months ago. But I am trying to save my half decent pair of shoes for at least another month or two of training. Obviously, I have been thinking about shoes for months, if you see my older post on getting some New Balance in my life.

Then tonight, my cold feels even less, and I decided to try a couple miles of mixed running and walking on the treadmill where I can set the pace. It was my first running in nearly three weeks, and even alternating between 3 minutes of running and five of walking for two miles wore me out. I can see that this weekend, I may want to start out slow and maybe only run a minute or two at a time, which is discouraging. But it is also reality. I have been just trying to get better for the last three weeks, and my fitness level has temporarily suffered.

But it sure feels good that this cold is loosening its grip, and it felt good to do a few miles again. Looking forward to training this weekend!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mentoring E-Mail # 4

Hello, my Merry, Magnificent Marathoners-to-be,

It is I, your Artful Mentor, once more with my weekly update message. I hope that each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am hoping to be over this cold by training this weekend, which would give me one more thing to be thankful for this year. Remember that the training venue is different this week and that there is a shoe clinic after training – check the email from Coach Vicki if you have questions. And please let our coaches know if you won’t be there.

I will keep my note short this week. Lucky you! It looks like most of you have your web pages personalized and bringing in some bucks for our mission of curing blood cancers. If you are not one of those people, then you know who you are, and you know that it is time to get moving on this, right? Right! Hint, hint…. Remember that we have a little fundraising contest going, with a great prize yet to be named. It will be something nice to have, and should I win the $128,000,000 lottery tonight, it will be really nice to have. I mean really, really nice! So keep raising those fundraising efforts coming. Who raises the most between last Tuesday and December 31 – OK, let’s make it January 2 so I am not trying to look at your fundraising pages on New Years Eve – that would be pretty pathetic, wouldn’t it?

Speaking of fundraising, we now have a date, time, and venue for our Team Silent Auction: Wednesday, January 21st at Big Al's Sports Bar & Grille from 6 – 8

It is a Non-smoking facility in the West End near 64/295 and 288 with plenty of parking. That night is Burger Night - which they received an award for and they are only $5. Also, it is Ladies night. They hope to have a good crowd.

I’ve attached a sample letter that you can use, so start going after donations. Anything that people donate to you, you apply directly to your fundraising.

So, your goals for this week:

* Get your letters to Jen – I am working on finalizing that tonight myself
* If you have not customized your web page, please do so, and get emails out.
* Start collecting items for the Silent Auction.

Please, please, please contact me if you have questions. I will be at training but will not be at the shoe clinic afterwards. If you want to talk in person, I am glad to meet you at the park before training – just let me know! Or I could meet you Thursday after work.

Finally, here is a little quote for you, so stay busy! Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)


Monday, December 1, 2008

TNT Update: Some Good News

My fellow Americans, and Citizens of the World:

I have three items of good news for you! No, I didn’t save a bunch of money on car insurance. First, this is my last update for 2008! I will give you a little holiday break from my Team in Training emails until early in the New Year. Now to be clear, you get the holiday break, not me. I’ll still be working hard at TNT. Second, unlike the previous notes for my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign, this note will take a serious bent, rather than my whacky attempts at humor.

Third, if you have been meaning to donate and are looking for a great cause for a final charitable tax donation for 2008 (or an early one for 2009), then a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provides fits the bill! My TNT web page, where you can make a donation or check on progress with links to my blog, can be reached at:

Contact me if you would like to donate by check instead of on-line.

I want to again thank the 50 people who have already donated to LLS through my Team in Training efforts. Through their generosity, I have raised just over $2,600 to date. Even though I will not be sending out another note for about five weeks, I will be actively training, fund-raising, and blogging during that time period. The battle against cancer takes no holidays! So if you want to check in and see what’s going on, either go to my TNT web page or to my blog, Racing for a Cure:

During my training and fund raising efforts, I hear about a lot of people who have battled cancers of many different kinds: “My daughter died of leukemia when she was 30.” My husband died from cancer after we had only been married for four years.” “My father died after fighting lymphoma for several years.” “My sister-in-law discovered that she had lymphoma shortly after giving birth to her first child.” “I was in remission for a year but now I have metastatic cancer.” I could go on and on, but I won’t.

When I am out training, often very early in the morning in the dark and cold, I think about the people I have heard about, and why I am doing this again, and I came up with these thoughts:

I awake with a start, what on earth is that sound?
I spring from the bed, and my feet hit the ground
And I dash ‘cross the room to shut off the alarm
Just a little more sleep surely wouldn’t cause harm

I throw on my clothes before I lose all willpower
For I’d rather be sleeping at this ungodly hour
I pull on my fleece and lace my running shoes tight
And step out, so quiet, in a world that’s still night

Cold air hits my face; from the streets, not a peep
“This is crazy,” think I, “All the world’s still asleep”.
It would be so easy to stay in a warm bed,
But the reasons I do this creep into my head

There’s the man saying goodbye to his dear grieving wife
As cancer is robbing what’s left of his life.
There’s the mother who’s weeping, her daughter’s so ill
In leukemia’s grip, she is going downhill

And somewhere, right now, a son’s losing his mother;
A father, his daughter; a sister, her brother.
And someone in this world, as I ….

So as to not clog your email, here is the link to the entire poem, in case you are interested in reading the rest of it.

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or happy winter holiday of your choice. I am about to hit six years remission from lymphoma in about another week, which is about as great a gift as I could receive. I hope to use my good fortune to make a difference in the lives of others who are not so fortunate, and I thank you kindly for your generous assistance.

Best wishes,

“Art Ritter in 2009 – He Will Go the Distance for You!”