Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ode to Coach Chuck

A friend of mine told me a couple of weeks ago that April is poetry month, and having not written any poems in a long time, I decided to do something about it on this last day of April.

Our coaches work hard every week with Team in Training, and especially on Saturdays during the team training. They do so much for us each and every week. But no one has a harder job that the TNT coaches assigned to go to the race with us. They are on the course all day, running back and forth, putting on 30 miles plus. Anyone from TNT that needs help, from any chapter, they help. If a non-TNT racer needs help, they help them. They work their butts off all day.

Our Virginia Team coach in Nashville was Chuck, who was also our assistant run coach for Richmond this season. This is my thank-you to him, to our other Richmond coaches Vicki, Kristi, and Cathy, to all of the TNT coaches at the race, and to TNT coaches all over the US and Canada. Team in Training could not happen without you, and you are appreciated by all of us “Purple People”. You're the best! But especially, this is my thank you to Chuck for all he did for us on a very tough day last Saturday. GO TEAM!!!!!

“Ode to Coach Chuck”

Guitars are humming
Banjo strings pluck
Country Music Team’s coming
Led by Coach Chuck!

From the “Mother of Presidents”
We arrived all a-quiver
There’s Peninsula residents
And folks near the James River

From Mr. Jefferson’s U
And Culpepper up North
And from Ridges of Blue
We all sallied forth

On the eve of the run
Our coach gave us advice
The heat won’t be fun
We’ll be paying a price

But he’ll be on the course
Helping us as we need
As a team, we’re a force
Doing such a good deed

Quite long before dawn
On the morn of our races
We stifled a yawn
But had smiles on our faces

We joined hands as a team
And were led in a cheer
Curing cancer’s our theme
Our goal is quite clear

For 30 miles that hot day
Chuck was all over
Helping us on our way
It was no bed of clover

He’d appear like a ghost
Running fast as a horse
When we needed him most
On that baking racecourse

In his big country hat
And a smile a mile wide
He’d run over to chat
And jog along at our side

Rather late in the day
He met a big fan
She said “I won’t stray
From such a good looking man!”

One by one he’d escort
Each of us towards that line
To the tent we’d report
That we’d finished just fine

Now I can’t be so bold
As to leave out Coach Vicki
She was there on days cold
And on those hot and sticky

And Coaches Cathy and Kristi
Each day walked the walk
Eyes get a bit misty
Just talking this talk

For a cure we race
And we are all blessed
Coach Chuck sets the pace.
Coach Chuck, you’re the best!

Art Ritter
April, 2009

Coach Chuck and me at around mile 5 Saturday

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

“Look! There’s One of the Leukemia Society People!”

I had a brief magical moment in Nashville last Thursday, the kind of instant that makes you want to smile and cry all at the same time. I cannot get this out of my mind, and decided to share it with the world – at least the small portion of the world who reads my Racing for a Cure Blog from time to time.

I decided to take a walk that afternoon from the hotel to the Cumberland River, get a bit more of the lay of the land in downtown Nashville. I was wearing a Team in Training shirt. As I rounded the corner by the convention center, two young women and two young girls passed me walking the other way. The girls were about six to eight, I would guess. I barely noticed any of them, given that I didn’t see them until I rounded the corner, and as quick as I walk we passed each other in less than 2 seconds. But then I heard one of the women speak to one of the girls: “Look! There’s one of the Leukemia Society people!”. I turned my head – they were now about 25 feet behind me – and looked at them. She was talking to one of the little girls, who happened to be bald with just a hint of hair growing back. And in an instant it hit me – “My God! This young girl has leukemia!” I smiled at her and waved, and she gave me a shy, sweet smile back. Then we went on our separate ways.

For a second I thought that I would go back and chat with them, tell them that I am a survivor and that she will be, too. I felt like I might be intruding, and decided to keep on going. But as I walked along, choking back tears for a short time, I thought of her. I thought about her as I sat by the Cumberland River a little later. I thought of her during the Inspiration Dinner the next night, and again during the race the day after that. And of course since then, which is why I am writing this now. I know I will wonder about her for a long time. Will she ultimately survive? Will she graduate from high school and college? Fall in love? Get married? Have her own children and maybe grandchildren someday? Maybe do a marathon herself with Team in Training for LLS? Discover a cure for cancer someday or invent something that helps the world?

And I thought “This is why I do this.” Why I get up at 4AM and 4:30AM to run and walk miles alone in the dark before work. Why I give up Saturday mornings when sleeping in and then relaxing with a cup of tea might sometimes be easier. Why I train so long at times that I have to soak in a tub of ice water from the waist down. Why I am willing to run and walk 13.1 miles two days later in the heat, and 26.2 miles three times before. Why blisters and blackened and lost toenails are tolerable. Why I am willing to ask people, many whom I barely know, for donations over and over and over, until now and then one of them will email back and say “Take me off your mailing list.” And it is why my teammates, thousands of them at any given time around North America, 650 of us in Nashville that weekend alone, do all of these things, too.

It is so this young girl, and others like her, can have a future. Seven years ago, I received the gift of life when I survived a form of blood cancer that was treatable only because of much medical research and clinical trials. So to do what I can to help others have this same chance now and in the future feels like the least I can do.

Whoever you are, young Nashville girl with leukemia, I hope you survive. I hope you have a long, productive, healthy and happy life! And I am glad that our lives crossed for a brief, bittersweet instant last Thursday.

Final Message from your Artful Mentor

Hello My Never-Quitting Nashville Marathoning Mentees,

‘Tis I, your Artful Mentor, with my regular weekly message to you. Ah, I know what you are thinking. “What??!!! Why is my Artful Mentor writing me again? My event is over! Plus he didn’t write last week. He didn’t write Tuesday night. I thought he had given up on bothering us! Oh, my Artful Menter is a crafty and sly devil. He gives us the week off to lull us into a false sense of security and to set us up. Then – Bam! He strikes again and blindsides us when we no longer expect him to bother us and our defenses are down. Why, oh why, was I stuck with such a wily and relentless mentor?”

Hey, suck it up, Marathoners! If you can survive the memorable experience of being slow-roasted in Nashville Saturday for 26.2 and 13.1 miles, you can survive one more goofy note from your Artful Mentor. Last one! Promise! Besides, there could come a time when Tuesdays seem empty and lonely without a note from your Artful Mentor. It could happen. Really, it could. Of course, a one-armed blind man using a garden rake for a club could hit a hole in one in the US Open. That could happen, too.

Congratulations to all of you for completing your race, and special congratulations to Nicole and Dave for their first marathon and first TNT event. It was fantastic for me to see all of you either towards the end of your race or just after. That is the first time that I have mentored for TNT that I have been able to see my mentees finishing their races, so it is a really great memory for me. I have attached a photo of us from our “cheerleading site”, and also am copying the coaches so that they can see it. Don’t those medals, marathoner smiles, and purple shirts (and not forgetting the purple hair) look good? I will be posting more photos and stories on my blog, hopefully within the next week as time permits. My computer is messed up, which is why I didn’t email you last night, so it might be a while.

Now, on to fund-raising topics one last time. If you have any questions about the reimbursement process, check processing, and deadlines, you need to ask Amber these questions. Then pay very close attention to her instructions. If you were charged earlier this month, it is important to press ahead and keep fund-raising. Send out another round of emails telling about your trip and the race and giving friends and family a last chance to donate. Have a victory party – charge $5.00 a beer (tell your friends this first so they don’t think that you are buying rounds to celebrate). See if your out-of-town friends can forward a note to their friends on your behalf. Have a garage sale. If you get cash at fund-raisers, then deposit the cash in your bank account and make an online donation on your web-page – no waiting for a check to post this way.

If you want to let me know how much you have yet to raise and what your plans and ideas are, I will be glad to try to brainstorm with you. But if I don’t know where you stand on things, I can’t help. So let me know, and I will do my best to help you. But time is obviously very short now.

That is about it, teammates. I am really proud of you for stepping up to the challenge of making the world a better place by helping in the fight against blood cancers. I hope that you are proud of your achievements as well. I hope that you stay in touch, and that I will see you on another team. There is no experience quite like Team in Training, and I am glad that you decided to join us this season. I am grateful to have had the chance to mentor you. Now, I will leave you alone and let you get back to FUNDRAISING!!!!

Art A.K.A. Your Artful Mentor

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Celebrating Seven Years in Style!

Exactly seven years ago today, a doctor told me that I had a large mass in the middle of my chest. This turned out to be Hodgkin lymphoma.

Yesterday, the very last day of the seventh year since receiving that news, I celebrated good health while at the same time giving back to others by participating in the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. This was my fourth event for Team in Training since 2005, and it felt great to be able to do this once again. It was also my first half marathon after three marathons.

We had a great team from Virginia, including many teammates that we met for the first time from other parts of the state . They were a wonderful group of young people.

I am so proud of my mentees who were there, two of them first time marathoners and the third doing her third TNT event. More importantly, they have raised a ton of money for the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

It was a very hot day, reaching a high of 87. While I was out there, it probably only reached the low 80's but in the sun you felt like you were in an oven. Dozens of participants were taken to hospitals and at least one tragically collapsed and died at the finish. That was so sad to hear.

My time of just over 2:44 was slower than I had hoped for but in the heat it was important to slow one's pace a bit and just finish and survive. So for my first half-marathon, and also running this much in a race longer than a 10K for the first time, I am happy with it. I ran most of the first half but by the last 6 miles could only muster about half running and half walking.

Mostly I am just so grateful to be on God's green earth seven years after getting that grim medical news, and to be healthy enough to do something like this again.

Over the coming week or so I will post more details and lots of photos from the trip.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yee Haw! Nashville, Here I Come

The honoree names are written on my race shirt, my bags are packed, and the alarm is set for 4:25. In the morning, this show gets on the road, traveling from Richmond to Charlotte to Nashville. I can't wait to do my fourth Team in Training event!

I took a short run after work, just a couple of miles. I've been trying to take it easy and rest my foot, which I am pretty sure is going to hurt a bit at some point on Saturday. I looked at my pedometer records tonight, and in the last 3.5 months, I have trained 379 miles and traveled on foot a total of about 755 miles. So that is plenty of stress on one's feet and legs. At that rate, my once new running shoes will need replacement very soon. They cost a small fortune, so it is a good thing that I only do a race every year or so.

In Charlotte, the rest of Team Virginia should form up and we will meet our teammates from other parts of the state. We have a small team - small but mighty!

My last fund-raising request note Monday night brought in almost $600, so even though I almost certainly won't meet my goal, I am over 50% there in a really bad economy. So I need to look on the glass being half full in that regard.

Not having a PC with me on the trip, I won't be blogging until next week, but I should have plenty of trip and race reports at that point.

Wish me luck, because ready or not, Nashville here I come!!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Purple Shirt of Honor

Tonight, I added honoree names to my race shirt for Saturday's race in Nashville. These folks, some survivors like me, some not, will be coming along for the ride for 13.1 miles that day. It is my honor to carry them with me, because for me, this is not just a footrace - it is honoring the memory and spirit of those who fought the good fight but lost in the end, and celebrating the victories over cancer of the survivors. If I hit a rough time in the race, if I feel tired, all I need to do is think about my duty to carry these names to the finish line, to not give up - just as they fought as hard as they could.

You can read my complete list of honorees here.

To Shoot or Not to Shoot, That is the Question!

What would you do? This is my fourth long distance race, the previous three being marathons. In the first and third, I brought my camera and got some great pictures and memories along the way. In my second, San Diego, I didn't bring a camera on the race and regretted not having photos.

I have trained most of the season with a camera on my waist. If you follow this blog at all that should be obvious - either that or I have a personal assistant running along with me carrying my camera. So even though it will slow me down Saturday, probably adding about a minute to my time for every 4 photos I take, I am taking the camera unless it is pouring. As I tell people, it is not your time in the race that counts, but your time at the race. And having great photos is part of the time at the race. Plus, I can always say later, "yeah I ran a 2:59 half marathon, but if it hadn't been for all the photos I took and that long porta-potty line, I am pretty sure it would have been 1:29." Hard to disprove that, right? So my trusty Coolpix is coming along.

Speaking of pictures, how is this for an omen? 36 hours before leaving, check out this rainbow that was over our neighborhood tonight. If you look closely, you will see that it is a double rainbow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Making a Difference in the World!

My Fellow Americans, and Citizens of the World,

I address you tonight from the Elliptical Office with my last campaign message before heading to Nashville to complete the Country Music Half-Marathon this coming Saturday. I am amazed how fast the last 5-6 months of this campaign have gone by.

First, I will take this opportunity to thank all those who have donated to my 2009 campaign – over 120 of you! If you did not “cast your ballot” yet but would like to, you can donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by going to my web page:

My web page also has campaign updates and other information about what I am doing, including links to my blog with additional details about my Team in Training Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. You can also get me a check payable to LLS.

On the morning of April 25, I will get on a bus at 4:30AM along with my purple-clad teammates, and be driven to the race staging area in Nashville. At 7AM, I will take the first step in running, with some walking, 13.1 miles. That date, as it turns out, has special significance to me. It was on that same date in 2002 that I noticed an odd pain in my lower ribcage with every breath, which I ignored for 24 hours.

When I saw the doctor the next day, he suspected pleurisy and ordered a chest X-ray. I will never forget him looking rather grimly at the X-ray and saying “You have a large mass in the center of your chest, something that definitely should not be there.” For about 10 seconds I could not say a word, but stared at the X-ray and this word that the radiologist had written on the image’s margin: “lymphoma?”, with a question mark after it. In 10 seconds, 6 months worth of thoughts raced through my head, the dominant one being whether I would still be alive at the end of the year or not.

When I recovered from lymphoma, I had two choices. I could get back on with my life. Or I could get back on with my life, and do more to make a difference in the world. I am fortunate to be strong and healthy enough to have completed three marathons and raised thousands of dollars to combat cancer as part of these efforts. On the 25th, I will add a half-marathon to the mix. But at the same time, I have these sobering thoughts: in the seven years between receiving that scary news and the day of my race, 368,000 Americans have died of a blood cancer. I am truly blessed and incredibly fortunate not to be counted among that total, because it didn’t have to turn out the way it did. And consider that, on the day of my race - just one day – about 288 people in the United States will get the shocking news that they have a blood cancer – leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or multiple myeloma. They, too, will try to hear what the doctor is telling them while thoughts race through their heads. They, too, will wonder if they will still be alive by Christmas. That is just in one country: the United States. And it is from one genera of cancer only: blood cancers. So there is plenty of work to be done.

That is why those of us who are lucky enough to be healthy need to try to make a difference. That is what I have attempted to do with this campaign – to play a small part in an ultimate human victory over cancers of all types. If you would like to help with a donation, then you become part of that effort as well. And unlike me, on the 25th, you can do this without getting up at 3:30AM and running 13.1 miles (or 26.2, like some of my teammates are doing). So sleep in, have a second cup of coffee, and smile knowing that you helped to make the world a better place. I’ll do the early wake up and running for you!

Thanks so much to those of you who made a donation, and thanks to those of you still considering doing so!


(I’m Art Ritter, and I whole-heartedly approved this message, because far too many people are affected by cancers of all types)

Art Ritter in 2009 – He Will go the Distance for You!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Team Send Off

We had our team send-off today at Coach Chuck's house, getting our purple race shirts, final instructions, and tickets. Plus we got a special "Virginia is for Cures" shirt - a take on the famous slogan "Virginia is for Lovers". The whole team will wear these blue shirts at the pasta party, now called the inspiration party. Can't wait! Just 3 days of work this week, then Nashville here we come!
We all put our race shirts on over our shirts and posed for a photo, including Coach Chuck (who will be the Virginia Team coach at the race) and Coach Vicki (who was the head coach this season but is not making the trip with us.

Seven Memorable Hikes

It has been a while since I have written anything in my “surviving seven years series”, memories and things in my life during the seven years since I got diagnosed with cancer. In this post, I will discuss seven memorable hikes, presented in the order that they occurred.

My previous posts in this series are seven amazing experiences, seven great Team in Training memories, and seven cool wildlife experiences.

# 1 – First Post-Cancer Hike. Riprap Hollow, July 2003. Riprap Hollow, reached by way of a 9.6 mile circuit hike on the Appalachian Trail, Riprap Hollow Trail and Wildcat Ridge trail, is one of my favorite spots in Shenandoah National Park. It is a moderately difficult hike, especially when one is recovering from the ravages of chemotherapy. This was my first post-chemo hike, and although tiring, it was just incredible to be alive and hiking again. I saw two black bear cubs, one of which shot 30 feet straight up a tree. I took a cool dip in a beautiful pool in the stream. I slowly hiked uphill for nearly 3 miles on the way out, several young people passing me like I was standing still. My pictures from that day, in a standard film camera, were somehow ruined, but you can see photos from last year’s hike to this wonderful spot here.

Riprap Hollow

# 2 – A Promise Kept. Tumbledown Mountain, Weld, Maine, August 2003. I have written about this hike in detail here, and won’t repeat the story. But I will never forget this day. It fulfilled a promise I made the prior summer while I was so ill – that by the summer of 2003 I would be well enough to hike to the top of Tumbledown Mountain.

With my friends Chip and Amy near the alpine pond on Tumbledown Mountain

# 3 – A Branch Snaps in Grizzly Country. Ptarmigan Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana, September 2005. We had already done a seven mile hike, through prime grizzly country, that morning, on full alert with each step. That afternoon, I took off, alone, on a 5 mile round-trip hike up to Ptarmigan Falls. It was beautiful, hiking along an open ridge with spectacular scenery all around and great views of the massive Ptarmigan Wall straight ahead. I lingered at the falls for a while, then headed back down in late afternoon. Suddenly, the sound of branch being broken just off trail rang out like a pistol shot and I froze in my tracks. Other branches snapped – there was a very large animal very close by and I stood there for several minutes scanning down the slope with naked eye and binoculars. It was the tips of the antlers sticking above the saplings and brush that gave away the animal and its location – a huge bull moose. His antlers reminded me of an Irish elk! My adrenalin level dropped a bit when I discovered it was not a grizzly bear, and I watched him for about 20 minutes before reluctantly hiking the remaining mile or so back to base.

View towards Ptarmigan Wall

Ptarmingan Falls

A huge moose that gave me pause when he snapped a branch

View from the ridge that I hiked along

# 4 – The Mountain Goats’ Realm. Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, September 2005. Located off the incredibly scenic Going to the Sun Highway, this hike is one of those where the scenery per effort ratio is very high. Lots of scenery for minimal hiking effort. There was lots of wildlife to see, including Columbian ground squirrels, marmots, and mountain goats from near and afar. I put mountain goat pictures on this post so won’t repeat most of them here.

Columbian ground squirrel

An alpine meadow at Logan Pass

Amazing geology in these landscapes

Alpine lake

Bearhat Mountain

Mother and kid

# 5 – That's A Lotta Bull. Cascade Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, September 2005. You ever run into a situation where the biggest impression is a lotta bull? Well, that was this hike. The hike itself was not spectacular, but a lone bull bison was about 100 feet from the trail on the way towards the lake and we gingerly tiptoed past him. As we got about a half mile from the lake, a good sized herd of bison was scattered all about. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that hiking through a bison herd might have negative results and we turned back. We watched bull elk bugling from afar and kept our ears and eyes open for grizzly. We were also aware that we would have to slip past the bull again, and were shocked to find that he now stood nearly on the path, right where a little log bridge crossed the stream. We bushwhacked up through the woods to get a couple of hundred feet away from him and then crossed the stream – better wet boots than facing down a large bull bison. He was fine as long as we didn’t invade his space, and we completed the hike with no further adventures.

The hike was through open country for the most part

The bull bison kept getting closer and closer to the trail...

Until he basically blocked it

# 6 – Remembering 40 Years. Mount Washington, White Mountains of New Hampshire, July, 2007. In August 1967 my Dad took my brother Nur and me camping in Vermont and New Hampshire. The highlight of the trip was a hike to the top of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern US. My brother and I decided to do a 40 anniversary hike, and spent three days hiking in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains with my 83 year old friend Dick. We stayed in the famed AMC huts – backpacking in style! We “bagged” five tall peaks on the hike – Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, and Washington.

View back to Lake of the Clouds

The summit of Mount Washington looms just ahead

My brother and me near sunset on Mt. Monroe

Sunset from Mount Monroe

The moon over Mount Monroe on the hike back to the hut

# 7 – A Beautiful Hike in New England. Bald Mountain, Southern New Hampshire, August, 2008. This hike was on my sister-in-law Martha’s birthday, and she, my brother, and I celebrated by hiking up Bald Mountain. I have fully described the hike here with many photos. A few highlights were watching and hearing a loon – one of my favorite birds – at the start of the hike, the many incredible and vividly colored mushrooms that we saw, the beauty of eating lunch on cliffs overlooking the pond, and having a cool dip in the pond at the end of the hike.

View from Bald Mountain

Honorable mention would be last fall’s hike up Old Rag.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hooray for Hollywood!

It was a bittersweet morning today at 7:15 - the last time our 2009 Spring Team trains together, as the race is a week from today. A few of the Shamrockers joined us Country Music folk, and we had just incredible weather - the kind that you wish you could bottle. There are so many things in bloom that the colors make your head spin. Many trees are leafing out. There is no mistaking anymore that this is the Spring Team!

We did one of the traditional last team runs - Hollywood Cemetary. This scenic final resting place of two US Presidents and numerous famous Confederates (including George Pickett of "Pickett's Charge" fame) have made this their final resting place. Coach Chuck announced before training that we were doing this run at my request (true) and so if anyone got lost it was therefore my fault. The cemetary sits high on a hill overlooking the James River, Belle Isle, and the city of Richmond, and is very scenic.

Kristin, visiting from New Jersey to see her dad, gave our mission moment. She talked about a college friend who had leukemia and is now doing well after some tough moments. Coach Chuck led us in a final cheer and we were off: just over 6 miles for half-marathons (people who got lost in the cemetary, ahem, did 7 miles) and 9 for the marathoners. Here are some photos from our last day of training together.

The runners gather at Nicki's SAG Wagon in the "Fan". Nicki did a great job supporting the team all over the place today! Thanks Nicki - YOU ROCK!

View of the James, looking upriver, from one of the high points in the Cemetary. Plenty of hill work today. I kept up with the runners until this point then started alternating walking and running and didn't see them until we all got back to the park.

View of Hollywood Rapids from the same point, with Belle Isle in the distance. We trained on Belle Isle earlier this season.

Spring colors were in abundance today.
Gravesite and memorial to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. I knew for sure I had misread the directions when I came onto this about 5 or so minutes after passing it the first time. I retraced my steps and was able to find the correct route.
The sun hitting this beautiful dogwood was incredible.
Gravesite of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart
The "Black Dog" is a beautiful grave marker that everyone who tours this cemetary looks for.
The Memorial to Conferate Women is a very impressive pyramid.
Azaleas are becoming more prominant.
Nicki snapped this photo of me when I exited the cemetary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Honorees for Nashville

NOTE: I am keeping this post near the top, because these people are one of the big reasons that I do this.

Every time I do a race for Team in Training, I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society so that their mission of curing blood cancers can be reached. In addition, I am celebrating my own great fortune for not only surviving cancer but returning to good health, and I am honoring those who have had to battle cancer. For Nashville, I will write these names on my marathon shirt, and will do my best to honor each and every one of them when I race the Country Music Marathon.

First, there are four family members diagnosed with cancer in the last year and a half: Ann Ritter (my sister), Chris Ritter (my brother), Rhoda Ritter (my step-mother), Stuart Silverman (my step-father, deceased September 2008)

Then, there are our Team Patient Honorees, all such inspirations to our entire team: Emma McFeeley, Nicki Patton, Ed Stone, Kristi Garstang, Paul Zamecnic, Eric Lamp, Olin Patel

Finally, there are other honorees who have bravely faced cancer. Some are fortunate like me, and are survivors. Others fought the good fight but did not have a lucky outcome. May they rest in peace.

In Memory of: Dennis Ronan, Leroy Sievers, W. Scott Bivans, Alan Bernstein, Yvette Hamilton, Page Irby, Blake Wayland, Eloise E. Lindsey, Bob Caggiano, Joe Boisvert, Veronica Jameson, Courtney Davis, Ruth Loretta Bush, Randy Brown, Stephanie Dornbrook, Andrew Stevens, Jim Minich, Teresa Burton, Doris Reh Landis, Beatrice Chapman

In Honor of: Christine Grudinskas, Janice Wedwick, Bev Kuhlman, Meighan Daily, Kayla Kuhn, Gabrielle Bergerson, Joan F. Shipley, Barbara Moriarty, Pam Pollard, Wendi Eder, Michael Joseph, Wendy Wright, Bob Kuhlman, Marie Norton, Mary Beth Gibson, David Shoaf, Lillian Kerby, Jim Copland, Rita Conkle, Alicia Rainwater, Laura Hershberger, Laura Rumble Slater, Michael Marmion, Jeanne Fretz May, Bill Scherling, Elayne Minich, Julie Westcott, Kerry Allor, Salwa Miller, Phyllis Page, Mike Newcomb, Cindy Franklin, Austin Jones, Charisse Czaja, Meaghan Edelstein, Sandi Bender

Love that Taper!

I could get really used to this taper. In fact, that could be the problem - after the half-marathon, not tapering down to 0 and just sleeping in every day.

Yesterday, my schedule called for two miles. It was so easy that I came home from work, did a quick grocery shopping session, spent an hour plus helping LLS with a webinar on TNT fund-raising, then did the two miles! And still had dinner before 8PM!

This morning I was going to sleep in, but our sick cat threw up about 5:10 and woke me up. I got up, cleaned it up, then figured, why not get my three miles in? So I did, in a light mist. But that was better than the steady light rain that I would have had after work, so it all worked out for the best.

Running 2 or 3 miles at a time and having it feel pretty easy reminds me of how extreme half and full marathon training is. Plus the reduced miles will help my left foot heal a bit for Saturday's 6 mile outing. Tomorrow, I think I am going to do eliptical for my two mile equivalent, thus sparing my foot a bit more for Saturday's run in Hollywood Cemetary.

Yep, I am loving this taper period!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mentoring e-Mail # 23

Hello Team Nashville,

It is I, your Artful Mentor, with a taper week quiz for you! Let’s get started!

1. Taper refers to:
a. The reduced training mileage in the weeks leading up to a long distance race
b. The need to do less fund raising in the weeks leading up to a long distance race
c. A large hoofed animal of the family Tapiridae, indigenous to South America and Malaysia
d. Not sure, let me drink a cold beer and get back to you

2. If I have not yet reached my fund raising goal, during the taper period I should:
a. Relax and read a good book
b. Relax and go to a movie
c. Relax and drink beer
d. Work like crazy on fund raising

3. Reaching the $3,600 fund raising minimum for Nashville is:
a. Doable
b. Impossible
c. Not sure, let me drink a cold beer and get back to you

4. Someone on the Nashville team is:
a. going to run the full and the half marathon on the same day in Nashville
b. giving up on fund raising
c. going to have a birthday a couple of days after the race
d. Not sure, let me drink a cold beer and get back to you

5. You guys are:
a. A poor excuse for a team
b. Fantastic
c. Mediocre
d. Not sure, let me drink a cold beer and get back to you

6. For extra credit, my Artful Mentor is:
a. An idiot
b. A great mentor
c. Not sure, let me drink a cold beer and get back to you

Now to score your test, here are the correct answers: 1 (a); 2 (d); 3 (a); 4 (c); 5 (b); 6 (b)

Give yourself 20 points for each correct answer. Wrong answers are zero, but if you answered “a” to question number 6, please deduct 50 points.

Now let’s be clear, this wimpy taper thing (which I am really enjoying by the way) does not apply to fundraising, only training. So get out there and let’s close that gap between your fund raising goals and what you have raised to date.

See you Saturday for the Hollywood Cemetery run, which is a blast by the way. It is a very scenic place with great views of the city and river, and is especially beautiful this time of you. Also don’t forget send-off on Sunday. I assume we will get an e-vite and/or additional information.

Your Artful Mentor

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Wonderful Word

Taper! It's a wonderful word, one sure to bring a smile on the face of any long distance runner or walker!

No, not TAPIR!


This is the time where our long training runs and walks turn much shorter for nearly two weeks, until the day of the race 13 days from now. We all need it. Everyone on the team feels a little beat up. My foot continues to hurt, others have IT band issues. It is also a chance to get a little more sleep. No need to get up at 4:30 AM to run just two or three miles.

Next Saturday, instead of the 13 miles I did yesterday, I get to do 6! Or maybe I will do 8 and run with the marathon team for a while, but maybe not. At some point I slow to walk for a while and they keep running, so they are ahead anyway. All I know for sure is that only 2 or 3 miles at a time during the week sounds great. I hope with ice and less miles, my foot won't hurt as much for the next couple of weeks, then I can just suck it up for the race.

It also feels a little wistful for another season to be coming to an end, but end it must, as all things do. We had another great team, and I am really looking forward to doing the race and traveling to Nashville with them. Plus we have to be at least one step closer to a cure than we were when we started this season. We have to be!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Richmond Ramble

Today was the last long training for the spring team - 20 miles for the marathoners and 13 for the half-marathoners. We also had Nicki and Chad of the Shamrock team come back to run a bit and to help out. Nicki and Coach Vicki ran for a bit, but then provided roving "sag" wagons for support and fluids. Nicki also gave me some pretzels which totally hit the spot.

Before we started, Coach Chuck told us about a woman he knows through work who has a two year old grandson. The little boy has been battling brain cancer, and passed away this Tuesday. How sad! As a grandfather of a two year old girl, I cannot even begin to imagine this family's pain. Chuck then led on one us of his great cheers: "Walk or Run, Last Long One!" to celebrate our last long training day. Taper starts tomorrow!
The route was a good one - all over the place - so I kind of went nuts with the photos. It was such a beautiful spring day, the flowers were out all over, and I had a camera - so what can I say? We ran through the "Fan", past VCU, through downtown, down to Shockoe Bottom, doubled back to downtown - I detoured through the State Capital Grounds as you will see. From there it was back past VCU, through the "Fan" along Monument Avenue, then out to the Near West End, down to the "Wall" and west to the Westhampton area. We wrapped it up by running through some beautiful neighborhoods near the University of Richmond, did some hills through the university grounds, and ended at a Catholic Church. And that was just the 13 mile route. Vicki gave us a lift back to Byrd Park from the church.
While it was fun, it was a tough run for me. My left foot hurt continually from about mile 5, and just kept hurting more. My right foot hurt intermittantly. I ran too much at the start and ended up doing a 50:50 run - walk mix for the last 4 miles or so. But, no complaints. I am healthy enough to run and walk 13.4 miles, and that is more than I could have said nearly seven years ago when I started cancer treatments. And for a wonderful bonus, I ran into my 2005 teammate and 2006 mentee Vaunda at the grocery store where she works in Shockoe Bottom. It was great to see her again!
Here are photos from the day. The ones from the State Capital grounds were a little detour I did.
Chad, Nicole, Paul, and Dave near the start of training
"Rainbow" business buildings along Main Street near the "Fan" and VCU
Returning towards the downtown from Shockoe Bottom
I added at least 5 minutes to my run by walking slowly through the capital grounds snapping many photos on such a pretty day. This is the State Capital Building.
The Governor's Mansion. A new resident will take over this beautiful building some January, and there are already many people lined up who want that opportunity.
I love this monument! It is the Civil Rights monument that was dedicated last year, right here in the "Capital of the Confederacy". The quote is from Thurgood Marshall: "The legal system can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls, but it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me." This is the first and only monument at the capital with a young person, a female, and a minority.
Dogwoods on the Capital Grounds
George Washington (and several other famous Virginians) looks over the Capital Grounds
Downtown area from Capital
The first azaleas I've seen in bloom this year
Edgar Allan Poe. Earlier in the run, we ran by his house, the oldest surviving house in Richmond. We did not see any ravens.
Vicki snapped this shot of me at her sag wagon. I was only about 5-6 miles in and already tired with a sore foot.
The Five Star Jefferson Hotel, just west of downtown. It has a gorgeous courtyard ("The Palm Court") inside.
Pretty flowers at VCU
General J.E.B. Stuart guards the approach to Monument Avenue, ready for action
If this doesn't get you in the mood for spring, check your pulse!
Pink and white dogwoods (State flower) along Grove Avenue
A few years ago, these rockfish were all over the downtown area, each one decorated by a different artist. It was cool to see this one suddenly appear.
Pretty lane on the way to the University of Richmond
Most of the last mile or so went through the beautiful campus of the University of Richmond
Paying the price. Soaking one's feet in ice water for 10 minutes is such a pleasure (not). I am glad I was not doing 20 miles today. 13 felt quite long enough, thank you!