Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lessons From the 10K

Every race I do, I learn a few lessons. I don’t always remember the lessons, but I do learn something at each event. Sometimes I relearn a prior lesson, perhaps in a slightly different way.

Having made the switch from primarily a very fast walker to a runner / walker over the past 14 months or so, I still have a ton of things to learn about pace, aerobic conditioning, and mental attitude while racing. These all came into play during the Monument Avenue 10K this past Saturday.

One lesson relearned is to believe I can. My coach said that he thought I could set a PR. I never really believed it, because I have only been training sporadically at best, and only for the past two months. As I raced, I came to a point where I believed the PR was out of reach, probably by five minutes, maybe more. I slacked off a bit. I walked when I was a little tired. I didn’t push. I took probably 90 seconds to switch tops while stopped along the side. I stopped a couple of times to drink so I would not slosh the fluid on myself. As it turned out, I missed a PR by about 2.5 minutes. If you consider that stripping off the shirt cost me at least half of that, the PR was in reach for me all the time if I had pushed harder. But I didn’t believe it. And so it didn’t happen.

Another lesson is how much more work I have to develop a sense of the right pace. I never know what my pace is. Am I going too fast? Too slow? That will come with lengthening my run intervals and from experience, I hope. And maybe some work on the “dreadmill”, where your speed is known. At some point in the future, maybe I will get a runner's GPS, but I am saving money for a bike right now.

A third key lesson is to not listen to mind games. I’ll have been running for a while, and this conversation ensues: Me: “Been running for a pretty long time, don’t you think?” Other me: “Well, yeah, guess so. So?” Me: “Aren’t you worried about getting too tired?” Other me: “Yeah, a little, now that you brought it up.” Me: “What if you get so tired you can’t even walk?” Other me: “OMG! That could happen, couldn’t it?” Me: “Sure could! At least I think so, even though it never has.” Other me: “Maybe I should stop running and walk for a while.” Me: “Excellent idea, because you don’t normally run this long. You are not a strong runner. You are not capable of running more than a mile or so at a time, and you are asking for serious trouble. I see trouble coming. I see exhaustion coming. You're gonna be screwed!” Other me: “Legs, stop running. Start walking. Now, before we drop! Now!!!!” So much of endurance is mental. I need to improve my running conditioning so that I don’t listen to mind games. So that if I want to run 2 or 3 or 5 miles at a time, I can.

A final lesson, relearned, is to enjoy the experience and not stress over the race time. I generally do that, although I do wish I had pushed it just a bit and gotten that PR that really was just within range. I tell people all the time who are worried about their time: “It’s not your time in the race, but your time at the race that counts.” I think those are actually pretty good words of wisdom, coming from me, and I need to remember them myself.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Message #9 From Your Artful Mentor

Hello, my marvelous marathoning mentees. ‘Tis I, your Artful Mentor, with my weekly madcap message for you. I learned something tonight that turned me green with envy, and which will delight you – there are going to be 33 participants from Virginia in San Diego for the race, including the seven of you. Oh how cool that will be for you all. You will paint the town purple and green! Now, aren’t you glad that you recommitted?

For tonight’s message, I want to share just a couple of things, and then next week, we will get back to additional fundraising topics. My goal with my messages last week and this was to give your words of encouragement and positive attitude, starting last week with the poem “It Couldn’t be Done.”

Thing #1: I am meeting Lauren at 7PM tomorrow at the Willow Lawn Panera to talk fundraising. Please join us if you (a) are short on fundraising (b) are doing great and have ideas to share or (c) just want to hang out with some teammates. Please let me know if you are coming.

Thing #2: There will be a team fundraising event at California Pizza on April 22. Cate will have more details, but your fundraising will get credited 20% of business that you personally bring in to the restaurant that day.

Thing # 3: Last chance to do a March Madness fund raising party coming up. Get some friends to help and get creative to invite friends to the Big Dance while raising money to fight blood cancers.

Thing #4: I will not be at training this weekend. Remember to let one of the coaches (Chuck, Walter, or Betty) know any time you cannot make it.

At times, the idea of having recommitting to finish a long distance race and having to raise thousands of dollars is going to feel impossible. But it is not. Keep taking actions each day, and you will get there. Believe in yourself – that is half the battle. I will leave you with these words:

"You Can and You Will"

It’s easy to say
That there’s simply no way
To succeed and you’re at a standstill
But go for it now
And I think that somehow
You’ll find that you can and you will

Someday you might find
That deep in your mind
Comes the thought that you can’t climb that hill
But if you dig deep inside
With all of your pride
Then I tell you, you can and you will

Some people will rant
And shout loudly “You can’t!”
And grave doubt in your mind they’ll instill
Be resolved and take heart
For what sets you apart
Is believing you can and you will

Put your fears on the shelf
And have faith in yourself
If your goals you’re to ever fulfill
With a difficult chore
You can give up or soar
So believe that you can, and you will.

Go and set your goals high
Give things your best try
And don’t listen to nay-sayers shrill
For you never will know
How far you can go
If you don’t say “I can and I will”

Go Team!
Your Artful Mentor

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K Report

Today was the sixth year in a row that I have participated in the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K. It is always a blast, and today was no exception, despite the cold 30 degree start with a slight wind chill going. I stressed last night over what to wear, and finally decided on long pants and a long sleeved black undershirt with my purple TNT race shirt over it. I decided that anything else would be too warm once I got moving, and resolved that I would have to just put up with being a bit cold before the race while standing around. In fact, at about mile 4.5, I finally stripped from the waist up and removed my long sleeved shirt, even though it still had to be little more than 40. I just got too warm.

I parked the car about a half mile or so away and walked towards Monroe Park. I saw some of the TNT 10K team and chatted with a few of them, then looked at some of the displays and vendors in the park, including one for our new minor league baseball team, the Flying Squirrels. Go Squirrels!

Lots of people were milling about the park, trying to stay warm.

Eventually, I checked my little pack with a fleece and vest for after the race, shivering a bit once I took off my fleece. I put on my garbage bag poncho and sat in the sun for a while, hit the porta potties, and walked towards the start. There in the crowd, I spied my friend Kathy and joined her in her corral. We decided to run together until she warmed up and would go on at her faster pace. We spotted this wicked witch in the race crowd, along with Dorothy, ruby slippers and all. How they could run like this is beyond me.
One of the great things about this race is all of the amazing costumes that people run and walk in. There is so much creativity out there! Eventually, our corral neared the start and we were almost ready to go!
I took a look at the photo on the front of my race shirt of my sister Ann. I am running this race in her honor today as she continues her difficult battle with breast cancer. No race is as difficult as her struggle. Our corral got the start signal, and we were off!
Kathy and I ran together for about 7 or 8 minutes, at which point she got warmed up and I was ready to walk for a few minutes. We agreed to look for each lother at the finish. Just past Boulevard was the big Team in Training cheer station at Cate's apartment. Cate is our awesome LLS coordinator for most of the Richmond teams, including mine. It was a great pick-me-up to have these gals cheering for me!
Even though it was cold, the spring flowering trees, like these cherries, were so beautiful along this amazing avenue.
It was a blast to see some people I know along the way. Tina, who just ran her first half marathon at the Shamrock six days ago, was running. I passed Chopper Guy from my Nashville Team who was cheering. And my old pal Chelle was cheering at a point when I was getting a little tired and that was a huge boost to see her.
I had hoped, remotely, to get a personal record today, but I just have not trained enough to do that. So at some point, I realized that I was too far behind that pace to get it and I just tried to enjoy the sights, the crowd, the cheering, the bands, and the whole atmosphere that makes this such a fun race to be in - 37,000 people were running and walking today. I saw more cool costumes, like this couple with their pirate ships about a half mile from the end.
After this point, I picked up my pace a little to cruise to the finish line, a great feeling PR or not - not in this case. I don't know my official time, but think it was around 67 minutes, which would be my second fastest after last year's. Kathy and I found each other in Monroe Park and hung out for a while. Then she left to go home, and I started walking about a half mile or so west to go to my fundraiser at Great Wraps in the VCU area. They were giving LLS 20% of all business I bring in this weekend, so I wanted to go and support them. Along the way, I watched some of the runners coming in and did a little cheering. I saw a number of Team in Training people, including Chuck and Amber. Chuck had finished his race and doubled back to encourage people and run with them for a bit. Amber is our awesome Team in Training director for Virginia and is just amazing. She was doubling as TNT coach in the 10K. I was also thrilled to see Liz and Beverly walking - they were both mentors on my very first team.

Among the participants I saw were these three blind mice:

And a the J.E.B. Stuart Monument, I paused for a second and snapped this shot of people coming down the home stretch.
At Great Wraps, I got a great Buffalo chicken wrap, and was joined by my friend and teammate Nicki and her boyfriend Mark. They had run the race together and had come to support my fundraiser. Thanks, guys!
From there, I walked the mile or so back to my car. Stragglers were still coming down towards the finish line, but most of the spectators were gone. It was another fun race down beautiful Monument Avenue, thanks to Ukrops, the other sponsors, and thousands of volunteers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Recommitting at The Halfway Point

My fifth race for Team in Training, the Seattle Half Marathon, is exactly three months from today, and I am viewing right now as the halfway point.

Training wise, we are only a couple of months in, so training – based on time – is not yet at the halfway point. But tomorrow, I am getting out there to run the Monument Avenue 10K, and a 10K is pretty close to a quarter of a marathon. Plus last week, I ran and walked seven miles, and that is definitely more than half of a half marathon. So training distance wise, I am about at the half way point.

Fundraising wise, I have reached 49% of my goal of $8,500. I have three more months to come up with the rest, and it is going to be very difficult. This is by far the toughest fundraising I have seen in my five events. But I am halfway to that ambitious fundraising goal, and I have to be pleased with the results and generosity of people to date. Will I get the whole thing and dye my hair in purple for the race? Only time will tell, but I surely hope so.

I recommitted yesterday, meaning I signed paper work that I was actually going to do the event and go through with my fundraising and other obligations. There was never any doubt. Once I got my first donation, I was bonded to following through with this. As it has turned out, I am very close to the minimum fundraising amount of $4,700. And actually, factoring in some checks I haven’t sent in yet, the International House of Pancakes funds, and my Silent Auction proceeds, I will be over $5,000 once those funds post. So I am in no danger of not making the fundraising minimum.

I’m looking forward to the 10K tomorrow. The one last year was fun, and I set a personal record. It will be a lot tougher for me to do that this year, because I am not anywhere near that level of conditioning as I was this time last year. So I will do my best to run well and also to have fun!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two More Announcements from my Cancer Kickin' Campaign

This was my fifth note updating my campaign to potential donors....

I had a couple more big new announcements from my Team in Training Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. Fortunately, host Hal Larius of FSEN (Fundraising Sports Entertainment Network) let me appear on his show again to let the world know these exciting new developments. Following is a transcript of my recent interview with Hal:

Hal: Hi folks, tonight on my show, “Athletes in Grace and Disgrace,” we have a very special guest, Art Ritter – er – Cinco-ocho. I’m glad we could get you back on my show so soon, Art.
Art: Thanks, Hal. Great to be back!.
(Audience: thunderous applause and rhythmic chanting “Cin-co-o-cho”, “Cin-co-o-cho”)
I know you have two really big announcements tonight, but first, tell everyone about where your campaign stands.
Art: Well, as you know, I’m training for my fifth Team in Training event, the Seattle Half Marathon, and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I want to thank the many generous people who have contributed. People can go to my TNT web page at any time to donate, catch up on my latest updates, or see my list of honorees.
(The web site URL of my TNT page is shown on the TV screen):

Hal: So, you’ve reached nearly half of your fundraising goal, right?
Art: Yes. People have generously donated $4,100 so far. This money will be used to provide services to blood cancer patients and to work towards the ultimate goal of curing blood cancers: lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.
Hal: Well, what’s this about the color purple?
Art: Well, Hal, I am announcing here tonight that if I reach my fundraising goal by June 25, I am going to dye my hair purple for the race!
(Audience: a loud buzz fills the studio, and several young women in the audience scream)
Wow, that would be so cool! Hey, how about a purple Mohawk, Art?
Art: Let’s not go nuts with this, Hal.
Hal: Yeah, that would be pretty over the top and out of character for you, wouldn’t it?
Art: So that people can see how close I am to having purple hair for the race, on my TNT web page is a link to a cool new feature, my “Purpleometer.” I’ll update this as money continues to come in, and when “Mini-Me” has 100% purple hair, you know I’ll have purple hair too on race day! And after the race, I’ll post a photo of myself with purple hair on my blog, Racing for a Cure.
(Audience: breaks into cheering and stamping their feet; a few young women swoon)
Oh that is awesome! I can’t wait to check that out. So I just go to your web page and there is a link to your Purpleometer?
Art: Yep, it’s so easy, Hal. But I have another big announcement, too.
(Audience: collective sound of loud inhaling with excitement)
Well, don’t hold us in suspense, Art. What is it?
Art: Well, March Madness turned very quickly to March Sadness for me with Villanova losing in the second round, but I am going to turn it back to March Fadness by continuing my campaign’s wild and whacky hat fad!
Hal: Oh, exciting! How will March Fadness work, Art?
Art: Simple, Hal. For a $25 or larger donation for most teams, I will wear the college team hat of your choice for a day, and put a picture on my blog. Your team is still in March Madness? Rub it in, make me wear their hat. Your team is a ‘Nova arch rival in basketball, or even football – any Blue Hen, Spider, or Tribe fans out there? Go ahead, show LLS the money and I will wear your hat.
Hal: Wow, just 25 bucks? I think I see you wearing a Whittier Poets hat pretty soon, good buddy!
Art: Well, $25 for most teams. But for some teams, it is $50. All these teams either beat Villanova this year, or knocked us out of the tournament over the past few years. It is just so painful and humiliating to wear these teams’ hats, but for a good cause, I will: North Carolina, St. Mary’s, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, West Virginia, Syracuse, Pitt, Temple, UConn, Marquette, or Georgetown.
(a fan in the back jumps up and screams “’Nova stinks, Tarheels rule! The audience boos him)
I’d love to see you in a Syracuse or Georgetown hat, Art. Oh, the humiliation.
Art: Yeah, feels kind of rash right now, but I am not backing down! Go ahead, humiliate me, it is for a good cause. Make the donation and loan me the hat, and I will wear it! Even if it is one of a hated rival!
(A guy in the audience shouts “Yeah!” Applause starts rippling through the studio)
Well folks, that’s all we have time for tonight. Art, thanks for coming on. I’m going to be checking out that Purpleometer and getting you that Poets hat! Goodnight, everyone.

That’s the latest from my 2010 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign, Survivor in Seattle. Stay tuned for future updates!

Message From the Captain #17

How about those Shamrockers, eh? The smiles I saw on the race course were so bright that they would have powered a city. A great time was had by a great team.

I think we are at the stage where most participants who recommitted seem to be near or have already hit their fundraising goals. I’ve gotten emails from several you to that effect, although there are at least a few still trying to get there. I think the best case for anyone who completed their race is to continue to ask, and to have a victory party. Keep them cognizant of the reimbursement date, because LLS will not reimburse them after that date even if money comes in. The date varies with each event.

Going forward, because so many mentees are either done or doing well, I am going to work with you one on one instead of sending mass emails. At this point, we have a few Nashville participants, and then those for Tahoe and St. Anthonys. So I am going to depend on you to reach out and contact me about who you are still working with and have concerns about. I am mentoring with the summer team and going through the same issues you all have faced. There always seems to be two kinds of participants: those that hit their fundraising goals and higher with very little help, and those that struggle – often in silence. For the former group, encourage them to become rock stars. For the latter, continue to work with them if they respond to you. I know that is not always the case.

Let me know how I can help. I am glad to meet with you and your mentees and work one on one with you and them. I am doing fundraising right now as well and know it is still a bit tough out there, so we need to leave no stone unturned. But I am also finding that many people will respond if we ask them. Even with unemployment so high, 90% of people still have jobs.

And it is important to remember this one important fact: cancer is not, and has not been, in recession.

Thanks for all you do, and let me know what you need!

Message #8 From Your Artful Mentor

Hi Summer Team,

How’s everyone doing this week? I don’t know who has recommitted and who hasn’t, so you are all getting this note. If you didn’t recommit, let me know and I will take you off my list.

Who would like to meet some night next week and go over fundraising in a brainstorming session? Let me know, and which nights will work, and we will try to arrange something. I had a blast cheering for the Spring Team Sunday at the Shamrock Marathon, and couldn’t help but think that this will be you all in just a couple of months. Those huge half-marathon and marathoner smiles will be on your faces in San Diego!!!!!

I am going to stay away from any sage fundraising advice with this note and my next one, and instead focus on a positive attitude. So in this note we will discuss naysayers. You may have encountered naysayers this season when you told people what you were going to do. They are the people who might say: “You can’t do that! It’s not possible. You are not capable to (run a marathon / half marathon) (walk a marathon / half marathon) (raise thousands of dollar’s). You’re too (young) (old) (slow) (weak) (poorly connected) (use whatever term they might use).” Yes, these are naysayers – determined to rain on your parade and sap your confidence in yourself. Your Artful Mentor says “Pay no attention to these people.” Believe in yourself and prove them wrong. Now that you have recommitted, you are going to have to raise at least your minimum amount of close to $2,900, and you are going to have to run or walk a marathon or half-marathon. Naysayers won’t help, so ignore them.

I am pretty sure that Edgar A. Guest must have been inspired by naysayers when he penned these words. Given that every one of you remaining is female, I changed the “he” references to “she”, etc:

It Couldn’t be Done
by Edgar A. Guest

Somebody said it couldn't be done,
But she with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but she would be one
Who wouldn't say so till she'd tried.
So she buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On her face. If she worried she hid it.
She started to sing and she tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and she did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;

At least no one has ever done it";
But she took off her coat and she took off her hat,
And the first thing we knew she'd begun it.
With a lift of her chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
She started to sing and she tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and she did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

By recommitting, you have expressed the sentiment of the lines above – that the thing that others say can’t be done, you will find a way to do!

Let Coach Chuck know about your Monument 10K plans, and let me know if you want to talk fundraising next week!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shamrock On!

One of the really cool things about Team in Training is seeing people you meet along the way in their races. Today, I spent much of the day with my friends Nicki, Jenn, and Faith cheering for people in the Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. It was a lot of fun, but with tired legs and voices at the end of it all. I started at just after 7AM and kept going until just after 3PM when the last marathoner came by. We did take a nice little lunch break for some pizza, which hit the spot like you would not believe.

Many of the people we cheered for were on the current spring team, like first time half marathoners Claire, Tina, Barbara, Mindy, and Mike, and first time marathoners Karen and Jason. Then there were others from past events that we saw: Suzanne, Donna, Ann Marie, Kathy, and Sarah. And finally, there were teammates who were coaching on that long day, like Vicki, Kristi, Jamey, and Cheryl. Some of the people were at the brink of exhaustion as they came towards the finish. One woman was fighting back tears. Others looked near collapse. Most had big smiles. And many had colorful and innovative costumes or hats to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day theme of the race.

Here are a bunch of photos from the day:

We started out the cheering from the mile 6 point in the half marathon. Here are Nicki, Jenn, and Faith holding our sign and cheering. Nicki, Faith, and I are all blood cancer survivors.

Tina (first time half-marathoner) and Ann Marie making the turn at the six mile point.
Claire (first time half-marathoner) making the turn at the six mile point. I mentored Claire's sister Mary Nell in 2006 when she participated in the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon. One of the treats of the day was unexpectedly running into Mary Nell later when we moved down towards the finish line.
Not too long after Claire came by, we drove into Virginia Beach and made our way to the boardwalk at about the 12.9 (half) and 25.9 (full) mile points. The light was better for pictures and so I got a bunch of them, including these two comely Irish lasses.
Long distance races can be tough, but they also form a lot of camraderie, on display here.
This is Kathy's third half marathon, and a personal record. I mentored Kathy last spring until she switched to the summer season after an injury. Her race day smile is in effect here.
Multiple myeloma survivor Barbara is heading down the stretch to finish her first half marathon as a cancer survivor!
This handsome couple really got into the spirit of the race!
Multiple myeloma survivor Mindy is heading down the stretch to finish her first half marathon. Her husband Mike, fighting back injuries all season, was on the spring team and joined her for the last few miles.
King Neptune watches the race finish. He has the best seat in the house.
Nicki, Ann Marie, and Jenn congratulate Tina on her first half marathon.
'Tis a great day for the Irish!
Coach Jamey escorts some more runners to the finish line in the full marathon. Coaches do an incredible job helping the team get to the finish line. They often put in more than 30 miles that day.
Karen still has a few hundred more meters to go to be a marathoner, but she already has the marathoner smile going. Congratulations, Karen - 26.2!!!!
After we saw Karen, my friends headed for home back in Richmond, but I had heard that Cheryl, whom I met in Anchorage in 2005 when we both walked the Midnight Sun Marathon, was the sweep. I've only seen her once since then, so I thought it would be worth the extra couple of hours to say hi. So I walked about a half mile or so up to where the official TNT cheer spot was to link up with Elliot and Amber, two of the fantastic Richmond LLS staff. Amber is a cell phone with the answer to the question "Who's Calling?" being "Team in Training." And I think that Hemingway would be proud of Elliot's sign: "Ask not for whom the horn blows. It blows for thee!"
So I thought that "sweep" the very last one, and as I took photos of this group, I saw two more TNT people behind them. So I wasn't even looking for Cheryl here (with the frog on her head). I saw Vicki, who has coached almost every team I've been on, and fellow Hodgkin survivor and teammate Kristi. When the last two came by and neither of them was Cheryl, I was so disappointed. I'd waited almost two hours to say hi! Had she been hurt? Was my info about her being sweep incorrect? So I figured I would catch up with Kristi and Vicki anyway and ran to catch them. I asked Kristi is she were the sweep, and she said "No, Cheryl is." I told her I hadn't seen Cheryl, and she pointed to a woman just ahead of us with a big green frog on her head. She had gone right by me, and in fact I had taken a photo of her. So all was well that ended well, and I got to say hi and catch up for a minute. The two hour wait was worth it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer Team on First Day of Spring

Our little summer team gathered for some training at 7:30 on the first day of spring. The day started cool but was warm enough after an hour or so. Faith came out to give us a mission moment, telling us of her recent battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. Then we headed out for our 4 to 7 mile routes, an out and back up Boulevard. My route was 7 miles, and it felt good to do a distance longer than a 10K a week before the Monument Avenue 10K. At the end, a few of us went out for breakfast together.
Here are a few photos from the day.
Cannons guard the Daughters of the Confederacy
Minutes into our run, a bird deposited the results of its previous day's meal on Lelia's shirt. Is this good luck? We don't think so, but she took it in stride.
Cherries in bloom - spring at last!
Monoment to Confederate General A.P. Hill.
Daffodils in bloom - love it!
Cool stone arch at Bellvue, my turn around point.
Monoment to Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and his horse Little Sorrell.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My "Purpleometer"

Will my hair be purple on race day, June 26, at the Seattle Half Marathon? My "Purpleometer" shows how close I am getting. I will dye my hair purple for the race IF I hit my fundraising goal. Want to help turn my hair purple? Make a donation to my Team in Training 2010 Cancer Kickin' Campaign:

Donate here!

"Purpleometer" as of June 17, 2010:


Thanks to my friend Lissa for helping me with my "Purpleometer."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thanking My Silent Auction Donors

Last night, the Summer Team had our silent auction. Our team is small, and so was the auction, but the people who came out had fun and got some good deals.

I want to thank the local businesses that donated items to me to sell at the auction. The items I sold at the auction go directly to my fundraising quota for Team in Training, and support the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: to cure blood cancers.

Thank you to these fine Richmond, Virginia establishments:

Tripps - good general restaurant, a local favorite
Cha Cha's Cantina - Fun place, great margaritas and food
Sam Millers – excellent food, great raw bar
Lucky Buddha – fun Asian bistro
India K' Raja – my favorite local Indian place. Can you spell naan?
Linden Row Inn – excellent boutique hotel in the downtown area
Bottoms Up Pizza – best pizza in Richmond
Nuevo Mexico Restaurante – great place to eat Mexican food and enjoy a cold Corona

Thanks to these fine local businesses for supporting this important cause.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Message #7 From Your Artful Mentor

Hi everyone! Happy March Madness! ‘Tis I, your Artful Mentor, with my weekly message. This week, I have a reminder or two, a brief discussion of recommitment, and a mission moment.

Reminder # 1 – Silent auction this coming Tuesday, 6:30, Blackfinns. If you have items but have not told Cate about them, please tell her today or tomorrow at the latest. And tell your friends about it. Let’s hope for a great turnout!

Reminder # 2 – I think we are going to try for a team breakfast after training Saturday, right Coach Chuck? I am voting for Kitchen 64.

Reminder # 3 – Most of you missed the fundraising clinic. Let Cate or I know if you want to review any of the material or have questions.

Reminder # 4 – Don’t forget to check out the online TNT fundraising webinar:

Now, about recommitment – this happens Friday for those of you going to San Diego. Only you can decide what you will do, but please talk to Cate or I if you have any questions or concerns. Once you recommit, LLS starts making financial obligations on your behalf and so there is no going back. If you want to talk about your fundraising campaign, bounce ideas around, or brainstorm, get in touch with me. It is a busy week for me, and I am not available Thursday at all (going to see Wicked), but I will try to help you all I can. If you recommit, you will have about two months before you get charged for any shortages between what you raised and the minimum and until some time in June – roughly three more months – to finish raising the money and get reimbursed for anything you paid out. Cate can clarify this.

Mission Moment: This past week in Texas, a little girl named Layla Grace lost her battle from cancer. It would appear from her photo that she was about 2-3 years old. On March 7, shortly before she died, her mother wrote this in her blog. To me, her words are a powerful reminder of what children with cancer and their families go through, and why continuing to ask for donations to ultimately find cures for all cancers is so important:

“There isn’t much change with Layla. She is getting weaker by the day. She’s refusing ice chips, juice chips, small bites of jello…basically she’s not opening her mouth for anything. She can no longer sit up on her own and can hardly lift her head when laying on my shoulder. This is much slower and much more painful than we could have ever imagined.

The past year has been one obstacle after another. We’ve had doctors and others that have walked this road, try to help us by telling us what to expect each step of the way. While it’s been helpful, until you’re put right in the thick of it you have no idea how to react. The past 3 weeks have been pure hell. Watching Layla go through this suffering has been pure hell. Being away from our other 2 kids has been pure hell. The only think keeping me sane is faith. When I’m holding her and just want to cry uncontrollably, the only thing that holds me together is faith. That’s all I have left to cling to.”

Sad words to end on, but I hope our efforts will make this type of sadness less and less common.


Just For the Hill of It!

I have no photos from yesterday’s training. It had rained the evening before and all night, and threatened more rain Saturday morning. My ubiquitous camera was left safely at home, along with my cell phone. But it was mild – mid-50’s – and so I wore shorts, a long-sleeved top, and a tee over that.

Why is it always so cold at the lake? The wind blew gale force, geese were frozen into the pond, and small song birds dropped from the sky coated in ice. All right, it wasn’t really that cold, but standing around shivering in shorts waiting for people to arrive, it sure felt that way! Eventually our team gathered – me, Nancy, and Beth along with our three coaches. Where is everyone else? Meanwhile Betty, already wearing long pants, a top, and a jacket, went to her car to put on another layer. I wonder if she has a parka I could wear? As she returned, I thought of how quickly we warm up once we (a) move and (b) get the hell away from this accursed lake.

Eventually, we decided that the six of us was it, so we got moving. Coach Walter said that our route, the second half of which I have never done before, will involve hills. There were indeed hills, but what it didn’t involve was a bathroom. I really could have used a bathroom. The nice, brand new one at the park was locked up tight as a drum, as it always is. Why did they bother to build it? Sure, it is beautiful, but why build a bathroom building that is always locked? Maybe it is a monument to bathrooms everywhere, kind of like a statue: to be viewed but not used (other than by pigeons). Someone said that they must lock it at night. Given some of the things that clearly go on around that park – which my blog is too delicate to discuss in any detail – I can understand that. But as I said, gesturing at all the daylight, “does it look like night?”

We ran on, going past some other lakes. In a few weeks, spring will be busting out. The rain held off, and for now, so did any accidents caused by tightly locked bathroom buildings. Walter and I were going a little faster, so we pulled ahead. I did my run and walk alternating pace, the mark of a true runalker. “Any bathrooms around here?” I asked Walter. “Maybe at the Carillon,” was his reply. So while he went on, I ran over the Carillon and past Dogwood Dell, checking them out fruitlessly. Oh well, grin and bear it. I linked back up with Walter, and we headed down the steep grade of Pumphouse Road. It is very pretty back there, and the pump house is really neat. I remember running here, but up the hill, last spring with the Nashville and Shamrock team. “Glad we are not going uphill,” I said. By now, the cold-feeling start was long forgotten, and I stripped off my tops – one advantage of being male – and put back on just the tee. I was soaked from sweat but there was still no rain.

As we reached the Nickel Bridge, I shifted to walk mode. Partway across, Walter suggested that I start running again, and run up the hill on the other side of the bridge, so I started running again. I started heading up the hill. I climbed. And climbed. My quads burned. It was so steep. We passed a caravan of yaks, while mountain sheep watched us warily. I climbed. We passed the mountain sheep. I climbed. A vulture soared by at eye level. Will this hill ever end? I was tired but didn’t want to go back to walking until I got to the end of it, assuming there was an end. I crossed snow covered peaks. Still, I climbed. The James River was a tiny ribbon far below. Hey, what’s the chance there will be a porta potty at the top of this hill? I reached the crest of the hill, and changed to a walk, my breath labored. No bathroom awaited at the top.

I made the jog to the left past our water stop, then ran downhill along the river, enjoying the pretty views, and the first sight of daffodils in bloom. A large contingent of the Urkops 10K Training Team labored uphill coming towards us. “Glad that it not us,” I thought to myself as I shifted back into a run. Within minutes the grade bottomed out and began to climb. Oh well. We passed numerous other people out running. When we completed our loop back to the bridge, we met the rest of the team emerging from the clouds at the top of that hill. Beth was nowhere to be found, and we assumed she was up ahead in the loop. Coaches Chuck and Walter went to look for her while I continued the rest of the way back to the park by myself. It was uneventful, other than seeing the first pink blooms of a couple of cherry trees. Spring really is coming!

Back at the park, I was greeted by Beth and Cate. “Hey, Beth, Chuck and Walter think you are a couple of miles from here across the river!” I said. Cate called off the hunt with her cell phone, and soon enough we all gathered at the park, along with a few of the Team in Training 10K team. Another successful training, with some hill work thrown it! That will be important, because Seattle is supposed to be hilly!

Okay, the hills were slightly exaggerated in my account, but they felt like it at the time. Last night and today, I notice that my left knee hurts, and my glutes are slightly sore. I need to keep an eye on the knee pain, because I have noticed that from time to time as I run more. So I will take it easy with the running this week, walk a bit more, and see how it works out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Big Announcement From My Cancer Kicking Campaign

This was my fourth campaign note to potential donors. After two pretty serious notes in a row, it was time for a whacky one, and I hope that this one fit the bill.

We super-athletes seem to have two major ways of drawing attention to ourselves – doing something incredibly stupid and illegal, or appearing on a sports talk show. The US Bureau of Prisons kindly allowed me to meet some of the folks that I could share living quarters with from 5 – 15 years if I took the former approach. I found them to be incompatible, and so I decided on the latter course of action. Following is a transcript of my recent interview by host Hal Larius of FSEN (Funky Sports Entertainment Network).

Hal: Welcome to my show, “Athletes in Good Grace and Disgrace,” Art. We’ve been trying to get you on for some time, and I’m glad we could finally connect.
Art: Thanks, Hal. Great to be here at last.
(Audience: loud applause and some cheers)
Hal: I know you have a big announcement tonight, but first, tell everyone about where your campaign stands right now.
Art: Well, I’m training for my fifth Team in Training event, the Seattle Half Marathon, and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. People have been very generous, and I want to thank everyone who has contributed. People can go to my web page at any time to donate, catch up on my latest updates, or see my list of honorees.
(The web site URL of my TNT page is shown on the TV screen):

Hal: So, it sounds like your campaign is off to a good start!
Art: Yes, very good. People have generously donated about $2,500 so far. This money will be used to provide services to cancer patients and to work towards the ultimate goal of curing blood cancers: lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.
Hal: Well, what about that big announcement you are planning on tonight?
Art: Well, Hal, after a lot of thought, I am going to change my name!
(Audience: loud murmur of excitement)
Wow, that will give you instant name recognition and notoriety. Think Kareem Abdul Jabbar! And of course, Mohammed Ali and Hulk Hogan! And then there is Chad Ochocinco, Old Number 85 of the Cincinnati Bengals! Who even remembers Chad Johnson, right? Ochocinco is now one of the most recognizable names in sports! What flair!
Art: That’s right, Hal. That’s the kind of publicity I’m looking for!
Hal: Okay, don’t keep us in suspense, Art – what’s it going to be?
(At this point, there is so much palpable excitement in the air that it creates an electric surge, and the power shorts out. A few minutes later, the show is back on the air.)
Sorry about that folks, but it isn’t everyday we get this much excitement on our show. So, what’s your new name, Art?
Art: Well, keep in mind that this is my fifth event for Team in Training, coming eight years after surviving lymphoma. So, my new name will be…
(Audience: murmuring expressing almost unbearable tension)
Art Cinco-ocho!
(Audience: a loud gasp)
Now, that is powerful, Art! Very powerful. Short of shooting yourself in the leg in a nightclub, starting your own dog fighting ring, or getting involved in a barroom brawl, I don’t think you could get any more publicity than that!
(Audience: intense cheering and whistling)
Yep, that’s the idea. Kind of take my campaign to the next level. Blood cancer is such a serious problem, with an American getting diagnosed every four minutes. Tens of thousands die every year because we just don’t have effective enough cures. People who donate to my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign will ultimately help to change that. Maybe not this year, or even next, but soon.
Hal: One question, Art. What about next year, when you are a nine year survivor? Your new name won’t quite fit then, will it? Have you thought about that?
Art: Uhh…
Hal: Or when you do your sixth TNT event?
Art: Uhh…
Hal: Won’t you have to change your name again then?
Art: Uhh…
Hal: Well folks, that’s all we have time for tonight. Art, I know you are considering another big campaign announcement soon. So once you get that finalized, let’s have you back on here in a couple weeks to talk about that, okay? Remember, folks, if an athlete is in the public's good grace or in disgrace, you will hear about him or her on my show! Goodnight, everyone.
(Stirring music plays while videos of athletes making incredible plays in slow motion and other athletes engaged in a big barroom brawl are shown)

That’s the latest from my 2010 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign, Survivor in Seattle. Stay tuned for future announcements!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back to Back Runs

After yesterday's fun run with Lelia and our two team run coaches, I decided to run again today. I need to get in the habit of working out and running with great regularity, and a spring like day in daylight seemed like just the ticket. So I ran and walked six laps in Echo Lake Park.

I am really enjoying having Lelia on my team. First, we go pretty far back with Team in Training. She was my walk coach for my first two seasons on the team. Secondly, she is a "runalker" like me, and we are both working out at fairly similar paces. She has a runner's GPS, and that helps keep us both on pace and with intervals that work. Third, she is a fun person to talk to and having someone to chat with makes the miles just slip by. The last time I did TNT I ended up training by myself a good bit because I was the only person doing a run / walk combination. So I am definitely enjoying not being out there by myself all the time this go-around. I am really glad that she is back on the team.

At the end of training yesterday, I ran into several former teammates. That is another great thing about TNT - you meet a lot of really good people, and it is a lot of fun to run into them in other seasons. Yesterday, I saw Liz, who was on my first team ever. Vicki, who was the run coach for that team, is coaching the spring team. Betty, Summer Team walk coach, was on my first team. Chuck, my roommate for the Arizona marathon in 2008, is our team run coach. And Sarah, my Arizona coach, was out coaching the Monument Avenue 10K team. It felt like a mini-reunion!

Message #6 From Your Artful Mentor

Hi Guys! Yes, it is I, your Artful Mentor, with my weekly message for you.

I’m going to start by remind you about a few dates:

1. Tomorrow, March 8 – Fund Raising Clinic, Buffalo Wild Wings, 6:30. Please be there if at all possible. In any event, please let Cate know one way or another if you will be there or not.

2. Tuesday, March 16 – Silent Auction, Blackfinns Restaurant, 6:30. You should be collecting items, and as you get items, let Cate know what they are and the value. Do this as you get items so she can prepare bid sheets as time goes on. That way she doesn’t have a last minute rush.

3. Saturday, March 20 – after training, we are talking about having a team breakfast. It is a good chance to relax, and enjoy good food and good conversation with your teammates.

About half of you are doing great with your fundraising. But particularly if you are lagging behind a bit, the silent auction can be a great opportunity to make up ground quickly. I have seen people make as much as $1,000 from this one event. If your fundraising needs a jump, this is a great opportunity to get some money coming in. Every item you provide for the auction and that gets sold goes directly to your fundraising. So you have this week remaining to get as many of items as possible – go out and beat the bushes. Let your friends know about it – send out emails, call and text them, and put up posters. You want to let them know as early as possible so they can set aside the date and time. Remember – this is a one time opportunity, so take advantage of it. A successful auction depends on two things: lots of great items and lots of people coming to bid. So do all you can to make that happen.

If you are not participating in the auction, then you should be using this week to get out an update and/or your letter.

Fund raising idea – March Madness is about to kick into high gear. Offer to wear the cap of your team’s rivals for a day or so in exchange for an appropriate donation. The more hated the rival, the bigger the donation.

Let me know if you need help. I am trying not to bug you (yet) but am always glad to chat. I hope I see you all at the fundraising clinic tomorrow night.

Message From the Captain #16

Right now, your mentees are in one of two categories. The first, and preferred category, is that of butt-kicking fundraiser. You know the type – they are zipping along, money coming in, no worries. Clearly, they have an incredible mentor!

The second category, though, is of more concern. This would be a mentee who continues to struggle with fundraising. Either their recommitment date has not yet arrived and they are struggling, or they have recommitted but are lagging behind where they need to be to escape having to pay their own money in. This is the group you need to focus on, now and for the next month or so. Try to meet with them one on one if at all possible. You need to see if you can get them to reveal their fundraising plans, and allow you to help shape these. I will be glad to help meet with them and you if you need me to. Just let me know what you need, and what they are up against. For me to get involved in helping you, drop me a line and let me know who you are concerned with – let’s quantify this so we know exactly how many people we are concerned about.

A couple specific ideas that are time dependent, both involving March Madness: One is my hat idea – participants offer to wear the hat of a hated team in return for a suitable donation. I am going to try this one more time in my note for this week. The next idea would be to have some March Madness parties. If their team is out in the cold, and those of their friends are looking strong, especially if they are hated rivals, all the better. They can tell their friends that people can come to their party to watch them suffer. Or band together to route against a common foe. Sell tickets. People can get as creative as they wish – it is a party!

If you are mentoring new participants, remind them about the Fund Raising Clinic for the Summer Team tomorrow night. And remind them about the Summer Team Silent Auction on the 16th.

That is about all from the Captain’s Chair this week. GO TEAM!
Cap’n Art

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blair's Tale

We had a very special guest at training today, a walking miracle named Blair. Blair celebrated 40 years in remission from acute lymphocytic leukemia this past January. She was three years old when her mom realized she was sick. They had just moved to Memphis, and went to St. Jude's Hospital to get her checked out. Her blood was pink, and after testing, the doctor said that she would likely have a month to live. At that time, the odds of surviving A.L.L. was 4%, but Blair with the grace of God ended up in that group. She had a tough fight. Everything was experimental. She was placed in the experimental group that got a treatment that worked. Children randomly put in other groups died.

Blair put it so well. She said that childhood cancer was tough, but she looks on her life as a tapestry. Some of the threads are dark, but when she stands back and looks at the tapestry, it is multi-colored and beautiful. Radiation rendered her infertile, but she and her husband were able to adopt two beautiful children. She is happy in her adult life. It was touching to see a photo of her in the St. Jude's magazine when she was 4 years old getting treatment. And it was inspirational to see a reunion photo from last year of survivors who had been treated at St. Judes. 40 years ago, a little girl in Tennessee had only a 4 percent chance of living. And here she is today, another miracle girl.

Thank you Blair, for coming out and standing around an hour in the cold talking to our three teams. You inspired us all.

Only a few people came to training today. Our route was a simple out and back 5 miler. Lelia and I and coaches Chuck and Walter ran / walked together. It was a really good workout, once we warmed up from the chilly start. It is a great day to be alive!

Here is a shot of the spring team running up Boulevard. They only have two weeks until their event in Virginia Beach, the Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon.

Lelia and Coach Chuck, having fun running along Grove Avenue:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Flipped When I Heard the News!

For almost two weeks, my fundraising has been as flat as a pancake. But today, I got the official news from LLS about the results of the IHOP in Fredericksburg that I helped crew last week. The donations were split equally among the five of us that volunteered for a shift, and each of us got a pat of butter over $500! I flipped when I got the news! What a great boost to my fundraising, all at once. It translates to almost 6% of my fundraising goal from just one activity.

I had heard this unofficially before, but dared not to fully believe it until I knew for sure. I had volunteered for the shift feeling that $200 would be pretty good, and $300 would be great. But $500? Now that is sweeter than maple syrup! Thanks again, International House of Pancakes!

So while I write this, I will give a brief fundraising report. I have just over $2,400 registered with LLS, and $75 of checks in the mail – no really, they are! Add the $500 from the IHOP guests to it, and I am about the thickness of a flapjack away for $3,000. I also have $400 in corporate matching gifts that have not cleared yet, and probably won’t for a while. But counting that money in, I am at about $3,400. All in all, two months into fundraising, that is a very good start.

I’ve been concentrating on getting silent auction items this week, but next week, I seriously need to send out my fourth campaign update. I am trying to decide on a theme for the note, and have an idea. My last two, about the little girl in Nashville with leukemia, and about our team’s February Miracle Girls, were serious. So I think this fourth one needs a little whackiness. What do you think?

Monday, March 1, 2010

February Progress on My 2010 Goals

At the end of 2009, I identified ten goals for myself for the upcoming year. I decided to do a little progress report at the end of each month to see how I am doing on each of these. So here is where things stand after two months into the New Year!

1. Do my fifth Team in Training event. I signed up for the Summer Team to run the Seattle half marathon. Training has been going on for three weeks.

2. Get a bike. Initially, this means saving money for a bike. This takes money I don't have right now, and I have not made any progress on this goal.

3. Eclipse $50,000 (cumulative) in fund raising for Team in Training. I need to raise $8,500 this season to hit this target. I've raised 28% of this amount so far, which is a really good start.

4. Lose my extra 10 pounds. It is slow going, but I have lost about two pounds of it so far.

5. Practice swimming. I’ve made no progress on this goal.

6. Write something, get it published, and get paid for it. I’ve made no progress on this goal.

7. Run the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K this March. I am signed up and training.

8. Hike more, and try to backpack again. I’ve managed a couple of short hikes. This is a longer term goal for spring, summer, and fall anyhow.

9. Do something about my work situation. No progress on this at all.

10. Continue this blog, as well as my blog “Oh, to be Hiking,” through 2010. I’ve written 52 posts on this blog this year, and five posts on my hiking blog in 2010. So I am doing well on this goal.

Summary – mixed. After two months, I have made good progress on four of my goals, some progress on two others, and no progress on the other four.