Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fourteen Hilly Miles in C’Ville!

Today, part of Team Richmond joined our Charlottesville teammates in their home city, home of the University of Virginia, for training. Here is a photo I took of our combined teams:

My mileage allotment was 14 miles, although according to my pedometer, I went closer to 15 – so call it 14.5. In any event, it was a good workout on a fairly cold and windy day. It felt great to do more than half-marathon distance again for the first time since the Arizona Marathon. The hills were fantastic workouts for Nashville, which has a very hilly course. I started out running and actually ran the first three miles, then switched to my more recent walk / run mode. However, after about 10 miles or so, my legs were increasingly tired and my walk intervals became longer and longer, and my run intervals gradually faded to nothing for the last mile and a half. There was one hill that I walked up where I was out of breath at the crest just from walking.

The C’Ville Team was very gracious and helpful, and Coach Andy stuck with the slowest of us, including yours truly, even though he clearly could have finished long before we did. They had great people doing the water stops, and clearly marked the course with chalk and pink tape. Despite this, several of us missed turns and got a bit lost. But in the end, we all got back to the starting point, then had lunch together at Panera Bread.

I also got to see my Arizona Teammate and fellow lymphoma survivor Briana, who is a coach for the Charlottesville Team. It was good to see her again and see that she is doing well and is still so involved with TNT.

Getting home, I decided to do the always pleasurable ice water lower body bath, watching the clock like a hawk to make sure I stayed in there not a nanosecond beyond 15 minutes. Hopefully, the soreness I feel right now will lesson by tomorrow.

Some of the team running near the University of Virginia.

We ran through the Downtown Mall about five miles into the run. In warmer weather, it is a wonderful pedestrian friendly shopping and eating area. We have been there many times with my step-sister and her family, who live nearby.

Some of the crew at a water stop. They had these little bottles of chocolate filled with whiskey or other spirit. You drink the contents and eat the bottle - that's what I'm talking about!

Nicole, Kristin, and Andy running through a park. Several miles of the training went through two nice little parks - almost like taking a hike!

The Rivanna River ran right along the trail for a mile or so - pretty but cold and windy down that way.

Nicole and Kristin carefully traverse an ice covered section of the path. One spot was so steep and icy we simply slid down on our butts - it was the safest way down.

Mr. Jefferson's University. The Rotunda is the most famous building on the UVA campus and was designed by Thomas Jefferson. If I remember correctly, on TJ's tombstone on the grounds of Monticello, the inscription he wanted said that he was founder of the University of Virginia, but doesn't even mention that he was the third President of the United States!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Musings

I’ll just throw out a hodge-podge of thoughts tonight.

First, TGIF!!! Two days off from work, and even better, a training free day! My legs are always a little tired by Friday. This morning, I even took the elevator at work, seven floors up, which I almost never do. With 14 miles to do come morning, I tried to take it easy today, but still put over 9,000 steps on my pedometer.

Tomorrow, Team Richmond does a road trip to train with Team Charlottesville, about 70 miles from here. I imagine we will all be starved after training and will do a team meal – guilt-free calories. It is supposed to be fairly cold – low 20s – but dry, which sounds fine after the mess we had earlier this week.

Miles for the week: In the last seven days (Friday to Thursday), I trained 30.3 miles and traveled on foot a total of about 54.4 miles. That translates to just over 100,000 steps in 7 days.

I really need new shoes! Mine are about 15 months old and I did the Arizona Marathon in them over a year ago! I was blogging about needing new shoes months ago!

I got all my training done this week, even though Wednesday’s seven miles was on the treadmill, a rarity for me as most miles I do are outdoors. But I can see doing some more treadmill sessions – I like the idea of keeping an exact running pace while I try to figure out the best pace for continuing to do more running. Somewhere in there is a running pace that I can maintain for a much longer distance. When I run outside, I must go just a bit faster than is comfortable, because I usually start to get winded within 5 – 7 minutes.

Finally, I signed up for the Monument Avenue 10K for the fifth year in a row. I am shooting to beat last year’s PR of about 1 hour 9 minutes. It is an amazingly fun race – 35,000 runners and walkers. For the first time, Team in Training will have a fund-raising team in this race, so I will look for the Purple People and cheer them on when I run this race.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are You a Man or a Hamster?

For centuries, manly men all over the world have been asked the question: “Are you a man or a mouse?” Tonight, I was asked a similar question by the weather gods: “Are you a man or a hamster?” “A hamster,” I squeaked meekly as I stepped onto the treadmill.

Now, I’ve seen the weather reports from the Plains through the Great Lakes through the Northeast, and what we have had to deal with the last two days here in Central Virginia is minor by comparison. But I decided last night that I would not be getting up at 4:15 to do my 7 miles this morning. It was supposed to be 32 and raining. It is too risky to run in the dark when there might be ice. Instead, I would do the miles tonight after work, when weather forecasts called for scattered showers and 50's. I even skipped my carpool and went in early so I could leave early and get an early start on training., about a half hour before I left, said it was 57! “Wow,” thought I, “Training in mild temperatures and daylight for a change.”

After work, I stepped outside into a driving rainstorm, with temperatures in the low 40’s and a genuine wind chill. What the ….!!!??? 57??? By the time I walked to my car just five blocks away, I was completely soaked and very chilled. I drove home, and waited a half hour to see if the rain would slacken. It did a bit but was still coming steadily down. So I drove to our community fitness room and used the treadmill for seven miles, feeling a bit like a hamster on an exercise wheel and very wimpy.

Now, I know I should not be admitting this, especially not to the world. Manly men do not admit such weakness! In fact, I should be telling you, “Yeah, it was rough out there. Rain coming down in buckets! Gale force winds howling like a banshee! So cold that the polar bear at the zoo went indoors. But I soldiered on! I almost quit when I slipped on the cakes of ice as I leaped on them to cross the stream, and fell into the raging waters. I barely made it out alive, and my shoes were swept off. But then I thought, manly men don’t quit! I only have three miles to go, and only a couple of miles of it are in the snow over that path with the sharp rocks, so barefoot shouldn’t be so bad. I got a little worried – not scared, mind you, just worried – when that pack of wild dogs swept out of the woods and circled for the attack. But I growled and went into a defensive posture, and with one look at me (or maybe it was the smell of my running clothes?), they changed their minds and fled, yelping, into the night.”

That is what a manly man would have said, I am pretty sure. But not a hamster. And tonight, despite doing an entire marathon in a cold rain once in Alaska, and plenty of other hiking and training under pretty crappy conditions, I decided to be a hamster. I'll admit it!

It actually was kind of nice in a way. You can set a nice even pace on a treadmill. It gives your pace, miles, and the times exactly, making it easy to do my 8 minute walking (4.5 mph) and 7 minute running (5.7 mph) splits. And the running pace felt very easy, for a change. Outside, I don’t enjoy the running as much and get tired and out of breath. On the treadmill, it felt easy enough that I ran the last mile and a half. I did the whole seven miles, walking and running, in about 83 minutes. Not so bad – for a hamster! That is almost 30 seconds a mile faster than the last time I trained on a treadmill, which was only for 5K, or less than half of what I did today.

Less than 10 hours after finishing my workout, I will be getting up at 4:50AM tomorrow morning to do my 4 miles for Thursday. For that, I promise I will be a manly man, not a hamster!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Training at “O-Dark Hundred”

I did my first real “O-Dark Hundred” training of the season Monday morning, getting out there five minutes after 4:30 AM. Because of a predicted ice storm Tuesday, I decided to do my Tuesday miles on Monday, and use Tuesday as a weight and cross training day. Prior to yesterday, the earliest I have trained this year was about 4:45.

It feels strange to be up and about that early, the first of many times I will do so over the next three months if I am going to keep up with training. I only had just over five miles to do, but actually woke before the alarm, and decided to get an earlier start by about 15 minutes. You feel like you are the only person alive in the world, and I didn’t see a single soul or car during the training. It was very dark, with no moon and the sky coated in leaden clouds and air that felt of snow, even though there wasn’t any precipitation until more than 24 hours later.

Part of my route went through a wooded park, and I always need to walk, not run, that section when it is dark, as it would be easy to turn an ankle on the trail. Somewhere in a nearby neighborhood, a dog became very agitated to hear me moving through the woods at such an early hour, and began barking continuously. I am sure the neighbors were thrilled. It was a cool morning – mid-20’s – but I sweated through my three layers from the exertion. Back home by 5:45, I had plenty of time to stretch, watch a little TV, and drink a mug of hot tea before getting a shower – a rare luxury.

It is easy to wish at times that I were sleeping in a warm bed instead of out training so early, but all I have to do is think of the people suffering from cancer. At the exact hour I am up so early training, there are thousands of people getting up to go to chemo, surgery, or radiation. There are people who have been awake all night because they are sick or fearful, or because all the drugs keep them awake. There are people who are dying from cancer while I train, and those left behind grieving them. These sentiments where the motivation behind my poem, “Relentless”, and I try not to forget them, even if I am tired at that time of day. Training at “O-Dark Hundred” is far easier than dealing with cancer, and I am grateful to be healthy enough be able to do this.

On the other hand, should I win the lottery tonight and not have to work anymore, sleeping in until 6 or so and then going out to do my miles would suit me just fine!

Mentoring E-Mail # 12

Hello Everyone,

It is the time of the week, when you hunch over your computer, gripped with anticipation, palms all sweaty, wondering “Will I get a note tonight from my Artful Mentor? Or will he forget us this week?” Well, it can now be answered, yes to question # 1, and no to question #2. How could I forget my amazing mentees, as you press onward to raise money to cure blood cancers, all while training for half-marathons and marathons? Pretty astounding, I would say.

Everyone is doing great. All of you have money coming in, and Lexi and Leslie have already passed their minimums for Shamrock, Lexi by enough to be a Virginia Rock Star. Who will be the next Rock Star? By the way, if you want to see a photo of Lexi with her star, it is out on my blog:

Thanks to those of you who participated in the Silent Auction last week, or who told friends about it. It was a rousing success, with nearly $4,000 raised for the team! Great job! And especially a huge THANK YOU to Nicki!

The next big date is February 23rd, about 4 weeks away. That is recommitment date for Country Music, so keep in mind that you will want to have raised $900 or more by then. Obviously, the more you can raise by that date, the more comfortable recommitment is – don’t stop at $900 if you can do more. So, what will you each do this week, if you need to, to get a little closer? Well, is it time for another email update? If it has been more than three weeks, the answer is yes. In fact, if you still have money to raise to hit recommitment, I would advocate for an email update this week, one more in two weeks, and a third a day or so before recommitment. Then after that, slack off to one every three weeks or so.

What else can you do? Well, Nicki has provided me with a list of 25 fund-raising ideas, which I have attached for you. No, you don’t have to do them all. You don’t have to do any of them. But I bet there will be 2 or 3 of these that will appeal to you, and will work for you. Look the list over, and think what might work. Another idea – put up a poster at work advertising your TNT endeavor. If you are interested in this and want ideas, let me know.

We are also discussing having a group “brain-storming” session some evening if there is interest. If any of you would find this useful, please let me know so that I can inform Nicki.

This being the 253rd birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I wanted to use a quote from him. But it turns out that he was too busy composing incredible music – he wrote his first symphony at the age of 8 – to train for marathons. Plus in the 1700’s, the concept of curing cancer was pretty foreign. But giving it some thought, if Mozart was alive today, I think he would say something like this:

“I am immortal through my music. Those of you who make a difference in the world, perhaps by assisting in finding a cure for cancer, will also be immortal through your works.”

Let’s go make some beautiful fund-raising music, Team!

Your Artful Mentor

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Little Boy Named Olin

A week ago, our team learned about a little boy named Olin. His story is one more poignant reminder of why we do Team in Training. Why we get up at 4AM and 5AM to train in the dark. Why we ask and ask again for donations, even when it feels a bit uncomfortable, even when we suspect people are sick of us asking. Why we push ourselves physically to do our miles, even when tired, cold, hot, or wet. Why we are relentless for a cure. It is not right that little children, and their families, have to go through this. My fervant hope is that someday relatively soon, they won't. Someday there will be sure cures for these terrible diseases, and if I am still on God's green earth when this happens, I will rejoice knowing that my little efforts had a tiny part in making this happen.

Here is his story, written by his parents:

Olin is 3 years old and is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). In August, when he was only 19 months old, Olin woke up from his nap unable to walk. After a month of testing, x-rays, and head scratching-during which Olin became fussier and suffered constant fevers and leg pain - a final blood test on September 25, 2007 gave us the bad news: Olin had leukemia. He immediately began more testing and chemotherapy at the University of Virginia Medical Center. A month of intensive chemotherapy sent his leukemia into remission. But then he suffered a very significant stroke caused by the chemotherapy (a rare yet known potential side effect of the cancer drug asparaginase). He was left unable to speak and completely paralyzed on the right side of his body.
Now, after five months of rehabilitation, he is able to walk and speak but has not yet gained back the full use of his right arm or hand. Olin has 3 more years of chemotherapy ahead of him and many more months of rehabilitation. It's been tough. But Olin's magical personality - his undiminished smile and good humor - have remained; he and his equally sunny sister have made this bearable.
Olin's unflagging good spirits and strength of will remind us that he will fight this and win. Leukemia is no match for Olin! Our family is deeply grateful to everyone out there running/walking/cycling for Team In Training to raise money toward less toxic treatments and, ultimately, a cure, for leukemia and all blood cancers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Belle Isle Run

Often I am awake before the alarm on Saturday mornings. But not today. When the alarm sounded at 5:30 I was dead to the world. I struggled to wake up as I shaved. Fortunately, I was able to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and get ready for training.

It was about 45 degrees warmer for our team training today than it was a week ago, even though temperatures slowly dropped as we trained. No frozen Gator Aid this week! Our route was one of my favorites because it went out to Belle Island in the James River, on a footpath by the Hollywood Rapids. That part is almost like doing a little hike. My training was about 11 miles, according to my pedometer – not counting our warm-up lap around the lake. I ran about 20% of the first half and about 50% of the second part of training.
Our teammate Eric gave the mission moment today, talking about his brother Mark who perished from Leukemia as a young man. He talked about his (Eric's) son joining him for the last 10K of his first marathon in honor of his Uncle Mark, who he had never met. He also talked about a spectator in that marathon stepping in front of him on the race course with a big sign that said "thanks to you, I am alive!" It was very moving to us all.

I took lots of photos, so you will get good views of much of the route.

Amber prepares one of many chalk messages for the new Monument Avenue 10K Team, which started training today. You have to get up pretty early on a Saturday to be ahead of us!

Another one of Amber's messages to our teams.

We put our hearts, our souls, and our feet into doing Team in Training with the hope of curing cancer in our lifetimes!

Yours Truly with "Coach Henry", Coach Getchen's dog. His coaching advice to me was "go home, chew on a rawhide toy for a while, and take a nap!"

The team starts out on our training with a jog around the lake as it starts to get lighter.

A couple of miles in, we came to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a beautiful church outside and especially inside.

Paul returns across the Belle Isle foot bridge, about a mile ahead of Theresa and I, who are heading towards the island.

The view upriver from the footbridge suspended under the Robert E. Lee Bridge.

Looking downriver towards downtown Richmond. The tall building in the center is the Federal Reserve, designed by the same architect who designed the World Trade Center.

Hollywood Rapids from the path on Belle Isle.
Hollywood Cemetery across the James River.

The one mile footpath that circles Belle Isle is the nicest part of this training route and is my favorite spot in downtown. You have no idea you are in a major city. Belle Isle was a horrific prisoner of war camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War. It is now a peaceful and serene place.

The Hollywood Rapids are class 3 and 4, and often attract canoeists and kayakers. They would be far above my abilities, but it always looks like they are having a lot of fun. No one was using the river today. People drown on occasion here, so caution and life jackets are necessary.
Here, Theresa and I meet Kristi, Nancy, and Cathy coming towards the island as we leave it.

The route from Belle Isle headed east for a while, then north, and finally to the west, passing the State Capital.

The historic Bell Tower on the capital grounds. From here, I headed down Franklin Street through the downtown, past Virginia Commonwealth University, and down beautiful Monument Avenue.

Monument to Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern about 10 miles north of Richmond, May, 1864.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits astride Traveler.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis is giving a speech, I guess. I think he is saying "Boy, I never thought I'd see a monument to civil rights and racial equality in this town!" But we do indeed have a beautiful memorial to this cause, as of 2008, right on our capital grounds!
At the Virginia Historical Society is one of the saddest monuments I've ever seen, dedicated to the 1,500,000 horses and mules that perished during the American Civil War from battle, starvation, disease, and exhaustion. You cannot look at this statue of a starving, exhausted horse without feeling sad.
Back at the park, another one of Amber's chalk messages. Team in Training is indeed dynamite!!!
Jen, Amber, and Nicki return from the training run.
For some reason, I felt so hungry the last couple of miles, with my energy flagging. So to find out that Paul had made corn muffins for the team AND brought a jar of honey to go with them was like striking gold! Oh but they were good!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Miles for the Last Two Weeks

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to count my steps again using my trusty Omron pedometer. I have a good idea of how many training miles I do each week, but was curious about the total mileage. I am measuring this from Friday to Thursday, and here they are for the last two weeks:

Seven days ending Thursday, January 15: Total miles: 51.7; training miles: 28.0
Seven days ending Thursday, January 22: Total miles: 45.2; training miles: 26.4

As mentioned in my last post, I missed 7 miles of training on Wednesday, thus my miles were lower than they should have been this week. But it is an indication of how just routine walking and moving can add a lot of miles to one’s actual training miles.

I determined my stride length for walking long ago, and measured it for running a few weeks ago. My running stride is slightly longer. My pedometer tracks “aerobic steps”, meaning continuous running or walking for 10 minutes or more. I estimate what percentage of my training on a given day was running, and can then compute an average stride length for the aerobic steps that day.

My non-aerobic steps are always going to be walking – from parking to work, up and down stairs, around the office, around the house, maybe a short walk at lunch on an errand. I could use my stride length for walking, but that would over-estimate the miles, because going up and down stairs, and short trips in the office or home are going to be a shorter stride that 36 inches. So I use 30 inches as a good average.

Therefore my steps can easily be converted to an estimate of miles for the week that I believe is within a few percentage points one way or the other of being accurate.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Starry Night

With a some late nights organizing my auction activities and other mentoring tasks, I skipped training Wednesday, which should have been a seven mile jaunt. I unrealistically told myself that I would just do it Thursday morning. But after getting to bed last night well past 11 after wrapping up a our silent auction, getting up at 4:30 was not in the cards for me.

So instead, I went out tonight for a four miler, after we got off work and visited a friend who is in the hospital. It was nearly 6:45 when I started the run / walk, roughly running half and walking half. It was cold and clear but not frigid. The stars were beautiful and so bright, made all the brighter by a small moon tonight. Venus shown like an oncoming airplane, Orion lit up the southern sky, and Cassiopeia dominated the north.

About a half mile of my route went through dark woods along a narrow path. I had to walk this section because without moonlight, it is very difficult to see in this area and there is the risk of turning an ankle in the dark, or tripping over something. I only saw a few people during the whole four miles, but did see a dog chasing a terrified cottontail rabbit shortly after I came out of the woods. The dog was slowly gaining on the sprinting bunny, but I think the latter was able to reach the woods because I could see the dog racing back and forth like he was searching for it. I wish people would keep their dogs under control.

It felt good to get a little training in again – my first miles since Monday and badly needed with 10 miles coming up Saturday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Successful Auction

Our team silent auction was a big hit tonight. If anything, it was too popular with very crowded conditions and tables overflowing with something like 150 different items. We may actually do another one, because some team members couldn't put all of their donations out.

Our team took in over $3,700 from the event, which is great – and that doesn’t include the donation from the venue, Big Al’s Sports Bar and Grill. They are donating 10% of the food sales for the evening to our team.

Tremendous thanks are due Big Al’s, the many people and organizations who donated so many great objects to us, and all the people that came out to enjoy the event, have a burger and a beer, and bid on our auction items. Then of course, one cannot say enough about Nicki, who organized the event and did so many crucial things behind the scenes, and Amber and Jen, who provided so much logistical support and ran the event.

I personally must thank all the people and companies who donated to my fundraising through this auction:

Cha-Cha's Cantina
Sam Millers
Penny Lane Pub
Richmond Symphony
Omni Hotel, Richmond
Linden Row Inn
La Grotta Ristorante
Mary Nell Jackson Pottery
Nuevo Mexico Restaurante
Tommy Stratton
Jan Stratton
Rita Thompson
Kathy Jackson
Susan Geary

Finally, thanks are due my many teammates who worked so hard to get donations for this very successful auction!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mentoring E-Mail # 11

Hello my hard working Mentees,

It is I, your Artful Mentor, with yet one more weekly message. You are wondering why, even on such an historic day, I could not leave you alone. As you read my email you grumble “Why, oh why, could not my Artful Mentor have gone to Washington DC for the day, walked about 30 miles, stood out in the cold all day, and therefore not been able to bother us tonight?” The answer is simple – because I could not get a flexible day off from work today. So see, it is really all my boss’s fault!

My note shall be brief. Please come to the Silent Auction tomorrow. I know that at least four of you have items to get bids on, which is great. We have close to 140 items, so ask your friends – invite a lot of people. Get there as early as possible if you have items for the auction.

Other than that, you should get letters out ASAP if you have not. And send out an email update if you haven’t yet this year. It is important to ask, ask, ask, especially this year. People who have stable jobs will donate, they need to be reminded that the same recession that hits corporations and governments also hits non-profits and charities.

Here is a fund-raising idea for you: Throw a Super Bowl party. Ask your guests for a donation to your cause. Or better yet, conduct a raffle and split the proceeds 50/50 between LLS and the winner. The raffle can be based on point spread, final score, and so forth. Someone I met in 2005 had done this and took in $400!

On this historic inauguration day, I have quotes from two presidents:

Yes, we can!” – President Barack Obama (multiple times).

Yes, we can hit our fund raising minimum! Yes, we can complete a half marathon or a marathon! Yes, we can help cure cancers! Yes, we can make a positive difference in the world!

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” President John F. Kennedy 12 September 1962

What we are doing is not rocket science, but it is hard. And when you think about it, we choose to raise thousands of dollars and train for a long distance race not because these things are easy, but because they are hard. We like that challenge. And when we attain those goals, we feel good about attaining them because they were difficult goals to achieve. But believe me, when you attain them, the feeling is amazing – I know this from first hand experience from my past three TNT events. Think about it – would you brag to your friends “Hey, I am training to run a quarter mile and raising $25 to help with cancer research?” Probably not. But reaching your TNT goals will give you the right to brag a bit if you choose, or at least feel great about reaching for the sky and touching it.

I hope to see most of you tomorrow night at Big Al’s!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gimme Five (Degrees)!

The mercury read about 5 degrees Fahrenheit this morning at the start of training. I have done TNT five times since 2005, including one season as a non-participating mentor, and have trained in the months of December, January, and/or February every time, but this set a low temperature record by a good 10 degrees. As cold as it was in Ole Virginney, I can't imagine what TNT athletes up north were facing today.

I wore briefs, long underwear, and my running pants on the bottom, and two long sleeved shirts, a tee, and a fleece on top. I had a winter hat on my head, gloves, and a turtle fleece around my neck. I had hand warmers in my gloves, and it still took about two miles before my finger tips were not feeling frozen. It was just plain cold. Despite running shoes and one pair of socks, my feet never felt cold.

Because we had both walk coaches and a walk mentor show up, I decided walk the whole 12.5 miles. One coach and my mentor did about half of that, so after that point it was Coach Kristi and me. Theresa, my awesome mentor, gave us a bag of gummy worms when she left us. Coach Kristi is a Hodgkin survivor like me, although unlike me, she was pregnant at the time of her diagnosis. She is also a faster walker than I am, even though I can book along at 13.5 – 14 minutes per mile. So that pushed me a little bit to go faster, and there were some miles that we averaged a 12.75 minute pace, which was great.

The route today is so nice, with beautiful river views for much of it, and interesting neighborhoods to walk and run through. Originally, I planned to bring my camera but it was just too cold. We saw some cool woodpeckers, a large flock of some kind of diving duck, other types of ducks and geese, and some other songbirds. It is a very hilly route, which is good preparation for Nashville, we hear.

The Gator Aid we left out turned to slush, my water bottle froze, and my power bar felt like a piece of iron when I tried to bite it, even though I had it in my pants pocket right against my thigh. I put it inside my second shirt, and after about 10 minutes, I could gnaw small pieces off of it. The pace we set let to a feeling reasonably warm, other than my fingers at times and my face. I would periodically take off my glasses and pull the turtle fleece over my mouth and icy nose. Leaving my glasses on and trying this caused them to totally fog over. The fast pace led to plenty of sweating, and my four layers soaked through, then the sweat froze on the back of my fleece with a white frosting. Kristi drew a happy face in the frost at one point.

It was not very windy, which was a blessing. Despite the cold, it felt great to be alive and to be healthy enough to go over 12 miles over a very pretty route. Several teammates went 14 miles and two of them, Rose and Nicole, did their longest distance ever, which was exciting. We were all cold but no one froze, and Jamie made double fudge brownies for the team – that alone was worth going 12 miles for!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Come to Our Silent Auction

(I am keeping this near the top of my blog until after the silent auction)

If you live in the Richmond area, come to our team's silent auction!

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6PM - 7:30PM

Where: Big Al's Sports Bar and Grill, Richmond's West End near I-64 and I-295

Big Al's is non-smoking and that night is burger night! Five dollar burgers, for which they received an award. It is also Lady's Night.

So mark your calendar, and come on out! Hey, you have to eat, right? And maybe you can get some great things for good prices while supporting a wonderful cause.

Click Here for a partial list of items at the auction.

The following people / companies / organizations have donated items to me for sale at the TNT silent auction. I want to publicly thank them for their generosity:

Cha-Cha's Cantina
Sam Millers
Penny Lane Pub
Richmond Symphony
Omni Hotel, Richmond
Linden Row Inn
La Grotta Ristorante
Mary Nell Jackson Pottery
Nuevo Mexico Restaurante
Tommy Stratton
Jan Stratton
Rita Thompson
Kathy Jackson
Susan Geary

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Recession Story You Won’t See

My Fellow Americans, and Citizens of the World:

The presidential election is over, it is a New Year, and a new president will be inaugurated shortly. Through all this, my 2009 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign rolls on. I have given all of you a nice holiday from my updates, but have been fund-raising in different ways through that time. Thanks to so many generous people, my campaign has now raised nearly $4,200 – almost 30% of my goal. This money goes towards the vital mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: to cure blood cancers and to provide services and support to those afflicted with these awful diseases. So if you are one of my many generous donors, thanks again, very much. To see how I am doing or to make a donation, you can go to my TNT Web Page:

For those of us doing Team in Training, there is no extended holiday. Not only are we fund-raising, but we are training. I ran on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and New Year’s Day. I’ve run in the dark, in daylight, on warm days, on cold days, on sunny days, and in the rain. Saturday, I ran and walked 11 miles, the longest distance I have gone since the Arizona Marathon a year ago. I am grateful to be healthy enough to do so.

Most of my recent fund raising activities are related to our team silent auction, January 21st at 6PM at Big Al’s. I’ll be there along with my running mates. If you live in the Richmond area, please come. Not only is it Burger Night there (hey, you have to eat, right?) and Ladies Night, but we will have a large number of spectacular items to auction off: restaurant coupons, nights at hotels, entertainment, sports memorabilia, jewelry, and merchandise of many kinds. So come have fun, get a great burger or other good food, support a fantastic cause, and buy something that you would like to have. For more information, go to this section of my blog:

We are in a terrible recession right now. Layoffs by the thousands. Stock market crashes. Bernie Madoff who made off with billions. The collapse of the financial firms and the subsequent bailout. The bailout of the “Big Three”. The burst housing bubble. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that the same recession that affects everyone also affects charitable organizations like the LLS. So even though it feels especially difficult to ask for donations in these times, those of us doing Team in Training actually need to try harder in a recession. If you have donated already, thank you. If you are considering donating, thank you. And if you are not in a position right now to donate, but you may by April and you take the time to read my messages or blog and reflect on the fact that blood cancers kill someone in this country every 10 minutes, then thank you.

Every day, there seems to be a new and dreadful story about the recession. But here is one story that you won’t see:

“Washington, DC. January 13, 2009. Cancer in Recessionary Plunge! Annual figures released late yesterday by the government confirmed the recent fears of analysts: cancer rates have plunged 37.5%! This news caused near panic in many parts of the country, and American Cancer Futures opened 48% lower. Analysts are worried that this same trend will spread to the European and Asian markets, and indications are that Cancer Futures there will be down sharply. Experts from the National Institute of Health have no explanation for this trend. Dr. Sammy Samuel Samuelson from NIH was quoted as saying, ‘If this trends continues, we could see cancer virtually gone by 2011! It looks like the same recessionary pressures that have hit homes, banks, auto companies, and Christmas shoppers have now come home to roost in cancer.’ There are fears that oncology centers will be the latest group to ask for a federal bailout.”

No, cancer is definitely not in recession. In fact, some cancers, including lymphomas, are on the increase. However, cancer death rates have declined due to medical advances. Donations to support the work of LLS are one way of continuing this trend. So thanks again for your donation, or for considering my request to donate. Ultimately, there will be cures for most cancers, and when that day arrives you will have helped to make it so if you joined my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign.

I hope I see many of you at our Silent Auction on January 21st, 6PM, at Big Al’s. It will be a lot of fun. Come out and say hi to me and my running mates!

Best wishes,

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

Mentoring E-Mail # 10

Surprise, my shocked mentees!

It is I, your Artful Mentor, with my regular weekly message, a day early. You are thinking “My Artful Mentor is a sly one! I thought checking my emails today would be safe, but he was one step ahead of me! Darn!” You have to get up pretty early to be ahead of your Artful mentor! No, you really do! I was awake at 3:30 today for some reason, and never did doze off again. Maybe it was the excitement of the Philadelphia Eagles moving on in the NFL playoffs. Maybe it was the excitement and anticipation of having the alarm set for 4:50 to get up and go out for four miles. Or maybe it was the thrill of another work week starting – hmmm, that is the least likely of the three possibilities. We shall never know for sure. But I sure am tired today!

I am writing you early this week because it is important to finalize the Silent Auction, and I wanted to give you – and therefore Nicki – the maximum time. I have heard from three of you about the Silent Auction. Each of you participating needs to email Nicki directly the following information for each item:

* The name of the item
* The person / company / organization who donated it
* The retail value
* The minimum bid that you will accept (generally about 50% of the value, but you can go higher or lower of course)
* The bid increment (usually in whole dollar increments, this amount is also up to you. Quite often, you can make this as 10% of the value, but you might want to make it smaller for really expensive items.

As an example, I have a hotel package worth $400 – 440 face value, but I think 50% is too high. So I am going to set the opening bid to $130 with increments of $5 or $10. I think a $40 increment is too high.

I have a restaurant certificate worth $25. I will probably set the minimum bid to $10 with increments of $1.00 or $2.00.

So please, no later than Thursday, email Nicki the above information for each item. Even if you have not contacted me about participating, it is not too late. And if a stray item comes in after Thursday, that is fine – we just want the bulk of them into Nicki so she can prepare bid sheets, which with so many items is a very big job!

Second, invite some friends to come. You should have all the particulars, but if not, I have the information here on my blog:

You can send an e-vite, as mentioned last week, or just email people. Heck, you can give them an engraved invitation with personalized calligraphy if you want – it is up to you. Just let’s get people coming to this.

We have a great selection of things to bid on, over 65 to date. You may want to publicize this to the people that you are inviting, so that they know there will be many great things for the bidding on. Here is the list to date:

Eat out at - Melting Pot, Melito's, Cheesecake Factory, Cupertino's NY Bagels and Deli, Grapevine, Awful Arthur's, TGI Fridays, Sam Millers, Penny Lane Pub, Cha Cha's Cantina, Paradise Diner or Stir Crazy

For a night out - tickets to The Richmond Funny Bone

For a weekend away - Wintergreen package, golf greens fees for Golden Horseshoe Golf course in Williamsburg, greens fees for Meadows Farms Golf course, Two night stay at the Linden Row Inn or One weekend night stay at the Omni in Shockoe Slip

For the Sports Collectors - Autographed hockey puck, An Authentic Capitals Jersey, Signed Washington Redskins Helmet or Yankees - Derek Jeter framed picture

For the Sports Fans - $1000 suite at Colonial Downs Track, tickets to Colonial Downs

For the athelete - Road ID, gym membership, Foot Locker gift certificate, 3 Sports - winter weather basket, Bogey’s Sports Park certificates or 1 month free Jazzercise

For the Music Fans - Several CDs and t-shirts from various musical performers or Richmond Symphony tickets

Pamper your car- Oil Changes, Tire Rotations, State Inspection or a Car Wash

Pamper yourself - Hair cuts, massage, Jewelry items or a Mary Kay Satin Hands kit

Organize with a - Creative Memories set or a Gift certificate from a local Professional Organizer

For the Kitchen - Pampered Chef item, Tupperware Set or a Hand carved knife

To decorate the house - Framed photographs - of animals and sites in Europe

What everyone could use - Gift certificate for tax and bookkeeping services

Just a quick couple of notes on other items. Lexi is the winner of my fund-raising competition, raising over $2,500 since I threw down the gauntlet in late November. Her prize is a TNT beach towel – hopefully, you can take a dip studying soils by a lake or beach this summer, Lexi. Congratulations to all of you for raising a bunch of money during the last seven weeks!

Recommitment is fast approaching for Shamrock – next Friday. What can I, Nicki, or Jen do to help if you are lagging? Then in about five more weeks, there is recommitment for Nashville. That sounds like a lot of time, but with a $900 minimum, it is not. How can I help?

Congratulations to Lexi, Kathy, Leslie, and Kristi for all passing their recommitment minimums! Way to go! Lexi is already a Virginia Rock Star – who will the next one be?

I won’t be at training this Saturday but will see you at the Silent Auction and at next training.

This is a long note with a lot of information, so I am going to end it now. Thanks for making a difference by doing Team in Training!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cool Those Legs!

Today was my first chance in a while to train with the team, and it was good to be back out with TNT again on cold but not bitter early Saturday morning. Ann gave our mission moment, talking about the death of her son at age 19 from leukemia. She held up a photo of him in his high school football uniform – handsome, strong, healthy, and his life seemingly ahead of him. It is so unfair that those so young get ill and die, and I hope that in my lifetime, effective cancer cures will make that outcome a very rare exception to the rule.

I went 11 miles today, not counting the initial lap around Swan Lake, running I would guess about 7 miles of it. This makes it (a) my longest journey on foot since last January 13 when I walked (and ran a little of) the Arizona Marathon (b) the most I have gone in 2009 (duh!) and (c) the most miles I have probably run in my life in a single day - since my three marathons were all either entirely or predominantly walked. It took on the order of two hours and 20 minutes to go 11 miles.

The other people there today were mostly exclusively runners. I was the only run / walk person, and the other two walkers and their coach were only going about 6 miles, so that was why I decided to run so much more this time. Despite walking quite a bit of it, I was able to stay close to one group of runners and on occasion join up with them for a bit and have some teammates to talk with. Also, at different times, our run coaches ran or walked with me a bit. Hopefully, I can add some stamina and run more.

One of my mentees, Nicole, did 12 miles today, which is the furthest she has ever run. We are all proud of her!

When I got home, I felt like I am going to have fairly sore legs from all the running, so I made the decision to take an ice water soak. It was a decision reluctantly made. Evidently the little white angel was too optimistic about me not needing ice water baths until I get to higher mileages. Running so much uses my legs differently enough, I suppose, to cause more soreness. So I dumped a large container of ice into the bath tub, filled it with cold water, and stepped in – then sat down. I stayed in for 12 minutes, which was plenty – it was cold enough that there was still un-melted ice floating at the end. Hopefully I will be less sore tomorrow as a result.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Fundraising "Secret"

Hello, my motivated mentees.

‘Tis I, your Artful Mentor, once more. I know you didn’t expect to hear from me so soon again, so I am calling this message 9-a. Some weeks you just have great luck, eh?

One of you had a question today: “What’s your secret for raising so much money so far?” This is a very profound question. I don’t think I have been asked anything so profound since the day a man staggered the remaining few feet to the top of the mountain I was standing on and said “Oh great Mystical Guru. I have traveled all this way to seek you. Can you please tell me the meaning of life?” My reply then was “Beat’s me. I just got here myself and was admiring the view.”

Fortunately (or maybe not) for you, this time I do have a clear answer. Let’s examine this. First, I hasten to say while I have passed my minimum fundraising, I am not a Virginia Rock Star, unlike one of you. Also, I have done pretty well raising money for each of my first three events, but each time at the pasta party when the leading fund-raisers are announced, there are people who have raised truly staggering amounts of money. So everything is relative. That being said, here are the steps I have taken the last couple of times that have worked pretty well.

Everything I have raised so far, just under $4,400, has come from my email campaign and letter campaign. In years past, I have gotten large assistance from a couple of out of state friends doing fund raising for me, but that has not happened to date this year and may not. I also have added nice chunks with bake sales and silent auctions, and hope to use these soon too. But so far, it is just my solicitations. Now many of you are doing really well with very original fund raisers, things that are more clever than the things I do. I am amazed when I hear some of the cool things many of you have going on to bring in the dough for LLS.

Of the donations so far, roughly 90% have either come from on-line donations or checks sent me as a result of online solicitations. I sent out one USPS mailing that ended up bringing in maybe $400, and I will not do another mailing because the cost is high relative to the reward. So my focus is and will be on the email side of things.

Everyone I know that I have an email address for gets on my email list. The only exceptions are former and current TNT participants, then I give them the option because some of them may have trouble sleeping at night and reading my campaign emails can help with that. If you are family or a close friend, you get emails. If you are a casual friend, you get an email. If I got your email address from someone else, you get an email. If I know you directly or indirectly from work, you get an email. If you had the misfortune to give me a business card, you get an email. If you are a neighbor, you get an email. I make very few exceptions to all this, knowing that many people will never donate. Because every time I do this I get many donations from people I barely know, because they are not donating to me – they are donating to the cause of curing cancer.

I personalize the message. As a lymphoma survivor, it is easy for me, because I am trying to give back in gratitude for survival. What if I had never had cancer? I would use the story of relatives, friends or the team’s patient honorees. Almost everyone is affected by cancer. I am reminded by this when people donate and say “thank you for doing this, my niece (or aunt, or mom, or friend, or brother – need I go on) had cancer.”

Then I send out frequent reminders. Every 2 – 3 weeks a brand new reminder goes out, totally written from scratch. I always have a theme to it, and I always word it as a thank you to those who donated and an update about how I am doing. The theme could be almost anything – something I read about regarding cancer, someone I learned of, something from my experience or a friend’s experience, something from training and how it related to the mission. Or often it is a “Q and A” type of thing. Often I try to use some humor (we can debate this of course). This year, with the presidential election, I took a totally different tack – I ran most of my emails as aspects of a campaign: kicking off the campaign, a press conference, an attack ad, and so forth. I even had "campaign buttons" created by a friend. Now that the election is over, I will still use that theme to some extent but not as exclusively.

If you go to this area of my blog, you will see every note I have sent to potential donors for this campaign and for my last one (Arizona a year ago):

Maybe some of these will be useful or have ideas, and if so feel free to use them. Everyone has their own style and own approach. Since I am doing this for the 4th time in the last 5 years, essentially to many of the same people, I need to try to vary things a bit. Plus even in one year, if I sent the same thing over and over, no one would read it. Hopefully, by being original enough, some people at least will read enough of it to get inspired to donate.

My next note (update to donors) will go out next week, probably Monday night. Why is this important to keep sending them out? Because people have good intentions but if they don’t donate immediately, then my email will be buried alive - screaming, sobbing, and gasping for air - in their inbox. Every time I send an update, I get 6-10 donations. That is why I send an update every few weeks.

So that is the basic gist of it:

1. Everyone (virtually) I know gets on my list
2. I send frequent and original updates – but I always subtly ask again for a donation IF you haven’t already done so.

Ask, ask, ask – without bugging people. And in the same note, thank those again who have donated already. Make it clear you are not asking them to donate again.

Well, this is long enough, but I wanted to get it all out there for you, because it has worked pretty well for me going on four campaigns now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rain and Migraine

It was a dark and stormy night….. No, really, it was! That is how it felt tonight, running and walking for four miles. The skies alternated between heavy clouds, then moderate rain, then open areas with a moon like a spotlight, and finally, leaden clouds that dumped a cold, drenching rain while winds gusted up to about 25 knots. I was drenched and chilled when I got home. But it still felt good, because it was my first workout in four days.

I took last Saturday off as my rest day after doing 10 miles on Friday, then was going to do weights Sunday while watching some football. But in the late morning, I developed a migraine – my first in several months. I had forgotten what fun they are. On Monday, I still had it, and so I took off work. Monday night, I was feeling better, and put the finishing touches to the story about the little red devil and the little white angel, which I had worked on touch and go for a week or so. But I did not feel well enough to do water aerobics, my scheduled activity, or run.

Sunday night the rains started, and it has been raining more or less continually since. Having the migraine gave me a convenient excuse to stay indoors, but then I was feeling pretty good Tuesday morning and went to work. I watched the rain coming down and realized that I would get pretty wet that night training. Again, saved – if one wants to call it that – by a migraine, which came on suddenly and viciously. My head felt like it was being split and I felt sick to my stomach. I left work mid-afternoon, and lay in bed in the dark for a couple of hours. I felt well enough that night to write my note to my mentees.

Today, while I don’t feel great, I did get in a full day at work and with 11 miles coming up Saturday with the team, I really had to train. The weather cooperated only a little – the moon was out during the short portion of my 4 miles when I was moving through woods on a trail. I was excited that the rain was stopping and made the mistake of thinking it too earnestly, as suddenly the high winds and heavy, cold rain started back up.

Even so, I will take being soaked and cold, getting some exercise, over having a migraine. So I am grateful to be moving around again!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mentoring E-Mail # 9

Hey Gang!

So, Happy New Year from your Artful Mentor! I hope it was a great start to a great year. One of my resolutions – lose those extra few pounds I so easily gained over the last month or so. Another resolution – help each of you hit your fund-raising goals! So let’s get started again, with resolve to reach those fundraising goals in 2009. We can do it, yes we can. We will do it.

Now, I know a couple of you getting this may be in a transitional status – one switching to the summer season to do a race in the Great Land, the Land of the Midnight Sun, another of you dealing with an injury and may need to switch events. Some people will do anything, even employ desperate measures, to stop getting weekly notes from their Artful Mentor. But I tell you, it will not work. It simply does not work. Nice try, though! Seriously, I will keep you on my list until Jen tells me “Hey, Art, let’s cut her a break, she has been through enough.”

Now on to this week’s topics:

Topic # 1 – Silent Auction items. I have heard from two of you about what incredible and wondrous prizes you have come up with. What about the rest of you? I want to let Nicki know so that she can let Big Al’s know so that they can plan space.

Topic # 2 – Silent Auction percentage. Big Al’s is going to donate 10% of the proceeds on food from 6PM to close to TNT. Better news – if you participate with even on single item, even if it doesn’t sell, you will get an equal share of that 10% directly towards your fund-raising. Now is that a no brainer or what? So come on, bring an item and get a share of that 10%. You will never have easier funds to raise, thanks to Nicki and Big Al’s.

Topic # 3 – Silent Auction advertising – I challenge each of you to let 10 local friends know about the silent auction. Did I say 10? 10 is for rookies! You can ask 20, can’t you? The more the merrier! Why? (a) more people buying food, thus that 10% goes up (b) more people bidding against our fantastic auction items thus maybe you get more for your items, and maybe all items sell – and – (c) it is more fun having a bigger crowd. It just is at something like this. So send out and email, include an ad in your next fund-raising note, or send an e-vite:

Topic # 4 – I’ll be sending out my next email reminder / update to my contacts early next week. It is probably time for you to do the same, eh? If you want a good and easy one, use that “Gimme Five” format. Jen sent it out before, but if you need it just let me know. It is also out on my blog from last year, as is every note that I sent in my 2008 and 2009 campaigns.

Topic # 5 – Recommitment! For you superb and speedy Shamrockers, it is January 23rd and you must have raised at least $475 by that date. For you creative and capable Country Music folk, the recommitment date is February 23rd and the amount you need to raise by then is $900. So you know what needs to be done and by when, the task now is to make it so.

Who needs help? I, Jen, and Nicki will gladly meet with any of you who needs the help. Please, speak up if you are concerned, what to brainstorm, or want to share something.

What else? Well, don’t forget to have fun. You are doing a wonderful thing, for yourself and for others, and the cause is so worthy. But it is still OK, and preferred, to have a great time while doing Team in Training, and build some fantastic memories. Even your Artful Mentor has been known to crack a smile during all this when he thinks that no one is looking. It has never been captured on camera, though, not even the time a wily photographer put out brownies and hid in the brush for 3 hours with their camera waiting for me to smile. ;-)

As always, let one of the coaches (I am copying them this week on my note) know if you won’t be at training.

For a little mission moment this week, I will share something I wrote that I call “Relentless”. It expresses pretty well why I do TNT, and maybe it does for you as well:

Have a great rest of the week. I shall see you Saturday morning at the park, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Little Red Devil and the Little White Angel

The strangest thing happened to me the other day…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether to go for the full marathon again, or just do the half marathon in Nashville. 26.2 or 13.1; 13.1 or 26.2? Back and forth, back and forth. I ponder the question when I am out training, or sometimes when I am just relaxing. So the other day, back from another early training run / walk and still a little bleary eyed, I was shaving prior to jumping into the shower. I glanced up at the mirror, shrieked like a little girl, and dropped my razor in the sink. There on my shoulders were two tiny figures!

On my left shoulder was a little red devil. He had tiny red horns and cloven feet, a lashing crimson tail with a point on the end, and a little pitchfork. He wore a little red shirt with a “26.2” emblazoned on the front of it. His devilish little red beard came to a point, and his vermillion face had a nasty sneering expression. Tendrils of smoke swirled around him, and there was a faint aroma of burning sulfur.

On my right shoulder was a tiny white angel. She had lovely white wings, wore a golden halo over her yellow locks, and carried a tiny harp. On the front of her flowing white robe, in a sky-blue color, was inscribed “13.1”. She looked peaceful and, well, angelic. I regained my composure and asked the angel to turn her head for second while I reached for a towel, which I wrapped around my waist. Then I queried “OK, you two. What’s going on?”

The tiny red devil spoke first. “What’s this about you thinking of only doing a half marathon this time? What, are you a wimp?”

The little white angel chimed in. “A wimp? No one who is a wimp can do a half marathon. That is 13.1 miles! Seems to me that he is using good judgment, and trying to take proper care of his body.”

With a mocking tone, and a sneer, red devil said “Oh, he is taking proper care of his body, is he? That’s different! Art, I can’t believe you! Three marathons under your belt and now you have these doubts about another one. Come on, man-up here, bucko!”

White angel replied quickly. “A real man knows when to take good care of his body, to listen to his inner thoughts. 13.1 is right for you this time, Art.”

Sparks flew from the red devils mouth! “You make me sick, both of you!” he shouted. He calmed down a bit, and said “Think of it, Art. Another 26.2 pin for your TNT hat. How would that look?”

I spoke for the first time in this debate. “It would look great. I would love to earn my fourth 26.2 pin for my hat. That is why I am training, so far, for the full marathon.”

The red devil gave an impish grin. “Attaboy!” he exclaimed. “I knew that I could count on you.”

The little white angel shook her head calmly. “No Art, it is too much. You are too old. Look at your beard – it is as snow-white as my gown!”

I got a little irritated. “Too old??? I am not too old. Also, I don’t have a beard. That is shaving cream, little angel.”

“Ohhhhh! Sorry!” The little angel realized that she had made a tactical error – never tell a 50-something person that they are too old – and changed tacks a bit. “Look, remember in ‘You! The Owner’s Manual’ the statement that running a full marathon is not good for your body? Remember that? At any age! Those guys are doctors, Art.”

The fire engine-red devil sneered again. “So what do they know? They have never met you, Art. What, did your legs fall off after the first three marathons? Have you noted any damage to your body? Of course not! You were fine. Don’t listen to her! You know you really want to go 26.2! Trust your primal urges. You know you want to do it! Angels are always trying to spoil everyone’s fun by getting you to deny what you want.”

The little white angel showed just a hint of irritation, but took a few seconds to play some beautiful music on her harp, and spoke back up, quite calmly. “Well as far as fun goes, let’s see. Are ice baths fun? If you do a half marathon, you won’t need any ice water baths, or maybe one or two at most. How about that?”

I glanced at her in the mirror, and replied “That’s a really good point. Those ice water baths are pretty tough.”

The devil snorted, and flames shot from his nostrils. “Ice water baths, tough? Do you have any idea what cancer patients go through? It makes ice water baths look like a picnic!”

Now it was my turn to be annoyed with him. “For your information, yes, I know quite well what cancer patients go through, and yes, it does make ice water baths seem pretty tame. But I still wouldn’t call them fun. And aren’t you devils all supposed to be about fun?”

The little devil ignored that retort, and the white angel chimed in. “Think of all the extra sleep you will get. Instead of having to get up at 4AM and do 9 or 10 miles before work, you can sleep until 4:45 and only do 5 or 6 miles. How does that sound?”

“You know, I really hate those 4AM alarm sets…”

Quick as a flash, the little devil jabbed me in the neck with his pitchfork! I shouted “Ouch! Son of a … That hurt!”

“Oh, did that hurt?” he mocked. “Good, glad I’ve gotten your attention. Now stay with me here, big guy. Why don’t you read your own poem, ‘Relentless’? Do you remember writing that? Think of all the cancer patients you wrote about instead of getting a little extra beauty sleep which, no offense, isn’t exactly doing you any good.”

The little angel was quick to reply. “What difference does it make to cancer patients if he does a half marathon instead of a full? Besides, you’ve never done a half marathon, Art. It would be a new experience, and you would earn a 13.1 TNT pin. That would look cool on your hat with the three 26.2 pins.”

I mulled that over for a bit, and replied “That’s true. I have never done a half marathon…”

The devil’s face turned a livid shade of crimson and he fairly exploded. “You’re morons, both of you! He has too done a half marathon, he just does them two at a time. You’ve done that three times now, Art. For God’s sake …” He stopped suddenly, an expression of pure fear flashing over his face like a shadow. He looked around quickly, then glanced downward and said “I didn’t mean that, it’s just an expression!” Then he looked up at me and said “You want to do a half marathon? Do the Shamrock in March. It would be a great tune-up for the full marathon in April in Nashville.”

The little white angel looked worried, because she knew the nasty little vermillion fellow had made some good points. She said “Shin splints. IT band issues. Hip bursitis. Metatarsalgia. Morton’s neuroma. Plantar fasciaitis...”

The little red devil said “All temporary, and none of them assured. Doing a marathon – permanent!”

The angel ignored this interruption and continued her litany of ailments: “Black toe. Lost toenails. Massive blisters. Blisters on blisters.”

“Give me a break, you foolish little goody two-shoes!” The little red devil guffawed as he lashed his tail. “Those are badges of honor to marathoners. You are not a true marathoner until you have had some or all of those. True?”

I had to agree with him. Then he said “Usually we devils want people to lie, cheat and steal, but I want you to tell us the truth, Art. Didn’t you feel kind of proud the first time your toenail turned the black and purple color of an August thunderstorm?”

I said “Well, other than it hurt like hell and it took 10 months for the nail to grow back, yeah, it was kind of cool.”

The little angel looked a little seasick as her beatific face turned a whiter shade of pale. The little devil glowed a cherry red as he grinned triumphantly and turned a cartwheel ‘cross my shoulder. Then he pumped his right arm, pitchfork in his grip, upwards several times. He chortled and exclaimed “Hurt like hell! I love that expression!”

The white angel composed herself and said “Look Art, angels always have your best interests at heart. What is it you carry in your pocket every day? It is your guardian angel medallion. You never heard of a guardian devil, have you?”

“Excellent point!” I had to agree with that one, big time. The concept of a guardian devil was certainly not one the nuns of my childhood would have advocated. “That really hurts,” said the little devil.

The little white angel started playing some more beautiful music on her harp – it sounded like the harp part from Mozart’s concerto for flute, harp, and orchestra – and smiled sweetly. The little red devil shouted loudly at her. “Will you stop playing that damn thing? I hate music!” Steam shot from his tiny, pointed ears, and he turned beet-red as he glowered at her. “Come on, Art! Don’t listen to her! You know you want to go the distance. Trust your instincts. Trust your desires, your urges. Trust …”

“Look,” I interrupted, “That doesn’t mean I’ve made up my mind. You both have good arguments and valid points. The decision is mine, and it doesn’t have to be made today. What does need to happen today, and soon, is that I need to shave and then get a shower. And I don’t need the help of either of you with that, OK? So, thanks for the advice, but scram!”

The small white angel folded her harp, put her hands together, smiled at me in the mirror, and disappeared upward in a wispy mist. The little red devil muttered something, snarled, and leaped off my shoulder, disappearing downward in a flash of flame and a tiny thunderbolt. And me? As I got into the shower, I thought that I will have a devil of a time this year making up my mind between 13.1 and 26.2, 26.2 and 13.1.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Double Digit Day

A year ago, double digit mileage workouts were the norm, and 12 – 20 mile workouts happened every Saturday. This time last year, I was less than two weeks away from the Arizona Marathon. But that was then, and this is now. What was easy 12 months ago no longer is.

I’m at the beach for a couple of days, and will miss the team workout tomorrow. So I decided to do my Saturday workout today, and take tomorrow as my “rest day”. On the docket was 10 miles, my longest distance since the marathon last January - even a bit longer than my 9.6 mile hike to Rip Rap Hollow last July.

I left my water belt at home by mistake, and that made a tough ten miler a little tougher. It was colder than I expected, but I had left the gloves behind thinking that it would be too warm - forecast was for mid-50's but it was nothing like that - low 30's without the frequent wind chill. I wore a vest over my long sleeved shirt with a tee over that, and so my arms were cold. My ears were cold. My hands were cold. My nose ran constantly (TMI?). I did a mix of running and walking, slanted toward walking because I could shove my hands in my pockets. I started off with five minutes of running and five of walking, but after a couple of miles I switched to five minutes of running and ten of walking.

The route I ran and walked was five miles north along the beach and then five miles back. It was scenic and very flat, but especially coming back into a brisk wind was tough and cold. Since I couldn’t carry water, I stopped at a store 6.5 miles into the training to buy a bottle of Gator Aid. My hands were so cold that I asked the lady at the register to open the bottle for me. Then I had a bulky bottle to carry, although it fit reasonable well in the pocket of my vest.

It took me 126 minutes to go 10 miles (not counting 4 minutes in the store looking for Gator Aid). So given about a 1/3 running, 2/3 walking mix, I feel fairly good about that pace. It felt like a difficult workout, in part because of the cold and wind. But it also feels good to be back in double digit territory. Plus, even though I was really glad to be done and was very tired, I know that if I had to, I could do a half marathon - but I am a very long way from being ready for a full marathon, if that is what I choose to do.

It was also a reminder of how much harder it is to do long miles by oneself rather than with teammates.

Note to self: BUY BODY GLIDE!!!!!!!!! Major chafing! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! And next time, bring the water belt and gloves!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Silent Auction Items

Here is a partial list of things up for bid at our Team Silent Auction, January 21. There is a great selection and something for everyone!

Eat out at - Melting Pot, Melito's, Cheesecake Factory, Cupertino's NY Bagels and Deli, Grapevine, Awful Arthur's, TGI Fridays, Sam Millers, Penny Lane Pub, Cha Cha's Cantina, Paradise Diner, La Grotta, Stir Crazy

For a night out - tickets to The Richmond Funny Bone

For a weekend away - Wintergreen package, golf greens fees for Golden Horseshoe Golf course in Williamsburg, greens fees for Meadows Farms Golf course, Two night stay at the Linden Row Inn, One weekend night stay at the Omni in Shockoe Slip

For the Sports Collectors - Autographed hockey puck, An Authentic Capitals Jersey, Signed Washington Redskins Helmet or Yankees - Derek Jeter framed picture

For the Sports Fans - $1000 suite at Colonial Downs Track, tickets to Colonial Downs

For the athelete - Road ID, gym membership, Foot Locker gift certificate, 3 Sports - winter weather basket, Bogey’s Sports Park certificates, 1 month free Jazzercise

For the Music Fans - Several CDs and t-shirts from various musical performers, Richmond Symphony tickets

Pamper your car - Oil Changes, Tire Rotations, State Inspection, a Car Wash

Pamper yourself - Hair cuts, massage, Jewelry items, a Mary Kay Satin Hands kit

Organize with a - Creative Memories set, a Gift certificate from a local Professional Organizer

For the Kitchen - Pampered Chef item, Tupperware Set or a Hand carved knife

To decorate the house - Framed photographs - of animals and sites in Europe

What everyone could use - Gift certificate for tax and bookkeeping services